Was relatively social this weekend, which was impressive considering that I was swamped at work because we have 50,000 things going on and I’m stressed about half of them and I haven’t even thought about the other half. And, I was going into to a four-day weekend. (Gotta love livin’ in a place where you get Mardi Gras off instead of President’s Day.) In my defense, I actually said I was coming to work on Monday and my boss was like, “No, you need the day off.” (Don’t tell him that I’m actually going to work from home some today. That’s our little secret.) Thursday evening we celebrated a friend’s birthday with margaritas and a great show at a small venue. At work I’d texted back and forth with my friend about the relative number of margaritas each of us would drink that night. We were both stressed out and busier than can be and we’ve been unable to one-up each other lately since we’re both swamped. (Me: “I would drink now while I’m at work, but that would make the baby Jesus cry.” She told me later that her co-workers thought she lost it when she got that one because she laughed so hard.) So we munched on spinach queso and fresh chips and let frozen ritas bring us back to life that evening. We knew we’d regret going out the next day at work, but at that point in the evening, neither of us cared. The show was good. However, as it grew later in the evening, the crowd (our age and older) seemed to get a touch restless. “Seriously, I have to go to work tomorrow,” she said. “I know, just one more song,” I argued. Ten minutes later, she groaned. “Seriously.” “I know, you would think they’d understand that their audience is getting old now and as such needs a certain amount of rest in order to have a productive day on Friday.” We stayed to the end of the show, leaving the venue after 1 a.m., grumpy and with our little spirits slightly broken that we’d both become so “adult” that we hadn’t enjoyed the last hour or so because we were obsessed with the running “To Do” lists in our heads. (We were not the only ones. I saw a lot of people checking their Treos or Blackberrys.) (And I refuse to pluralize “Blackberry” the device as I would the fruit, since it is a brand name.) Friday morning came early. I rolled over and groaned. I’d done a half-assed job of taking my makeup off the night before and my hair was a tangle of curls and flat sections. (I’d botched an attempt at hot roller beauty the night before and had to resort to pining it all back as I ran out the door.) I smelled like bar, my head hurt and I DID NOT want to go anywhere but back under my comforter. Unfortunately, I pay the bills around here. I snoozed until well after 7 a.m. The latest possible time for me to leave home and still be in my chair on time is 7:30, so I had to resort to a tactic not used since college one time when I had decided that studying for a very hard final was stupid and had gone out and had my fair share of Jager and then had borrowed someone’s car to drive to the test in my PJs, still smelling like vodka. (I didn’t do well on the test, but I still got a B in the class. So, of course, I didn’t learn the lesson in that experience.) I am not proud of this, but I didn’t shower. I didn’t have time. I pulled my curly mane into a clip and bobby pinned the front down and then hairsprayed it to within and inch of its life. (It actually looked kind of cute.) I scrubbed my face and wiped down quickly and then coated my body and my clothes with Cucumber Melon body spray from Bath and Body Works. I threw on a ruby-colored sweater with those cute plum kitten heels and jeans and I sprinted out of the door, patting on makeup in the car. You know what? I got a ton of compliments on my cute outfit that day. And I have no idea why. This is so unfair. I shower and wash my hair and do nice makeup every other day and the first time I roll into work looking undead and smelly, everyone thinks I’m adorable. I crankied through work all day and but cried when it was finally time to leave. I swung through Whole Foods for yummy salad toppings (fresh edamamme, tofu and juicy grape tomatoes) and fruit and resolved not to leave the house for the rest of the night. I took a short bath because I was grumpy about not bathing earlier, but I didn’t wash the hair (which, incidentally, had not moved all day) because I didn’t want to go to sleep on wet hair. I snuggled into bed with a mug of warm sugar-free cider (I am practically 65, I swear) and was all ready to slide into blissful sleep when my phone rang. It was The Lawyer. “I’m in town. Come have a drink with us.” “Um, I don’t think I’m in any shape to do that. I didn’t wash my hair this morning.” “S! Drink! Now!” The Lawyer talked me into going out, so I climbed out of the warmth and located jeans and boots and a shirt. I looked at my hair, still flawlessly in place and only really a day or so dirty and shrugged. Half an hour later I was jogging through the rain (not an easy task in my favorite boots) and into a bar I love. I found The Laywer and friends in a dark corner, ordered up a Sauvignon Blanc and relaxed. We had a good time. The Lawyer is fun and the fact that we don’t see each other as much anymore has increased the amount of fun we have together exponentially. We teased back and forth about boys and she bragged about “not having any commitment issues.” I almost choked on my wine and a mutual friend did the same. We both laughed out loud. “What? I don’t,” The Lawyer said. “I have no problem committing.” “Of course not, sweetie. You just commit too soon,” I said, trying to sound comforting. There was a beat of silence. I was afraid I’d crossed the line and was dipping into my crisis communication training and wondering what to say. And then our mutual friend busted out laughing and said that she totally agreed. The Lawyer seemed only mildly bothered by it, but eventually let a smile spread across her face. The conversation was good. I talked shop with a guy with similar career aspirations. Our Lawyer pals gave out free legal advice. The conversation turned to sex, as wine-laced talk among adults tends to do. We discussed such important topics as why it was important to “test drive before you buy,” the myth of multiple orgasms and porn. (Future Nobel Prize Winners, all of us.) I managed to be in bed before 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning I groaned as I rolled over when my alarm went off. I had to go to a bridal shower two hours away with a good friend and co-worker (also a PR lady who helped me get my job). We needed to leave her house at 11:30 a.m. This was problematic as it was pouring rain outside and my hair had become matted and gross overnight. As I scrubbed the hairspray and petrified smoke smell out of it in the shower, I mentally went through my closest for an outfit. It was cold and rainy and as such I was not wearing a little skirt. All of my shirt options seemed too work oriented or too slutty. After some hemming and hawing, I ended up in black wide-legged trousers and a black button down with purple and gray stripes. Probably totally inappropriate for a bridal shower, but I was not prepared to freeze all day just to wear the classic bridal shower garb. (Flowy skirt and a twin set.) I ran out of the house. And then back in because I’d forgotten my present. And then I realized I hadn’t wrapped it and it was probably too big for a bag, so I was looking at a stop somewhere else for paper. My tires screeched as I swerved to avoid being hit by a little silver sports car that cut me off as I attempted to turn to get on the Interstate. I screamed and ended up missing my turn. I didn’t have time to circle back around, so I cursed and went the long way through town. I fiddled with my cell phone and attempted to call my friend and warn her that I was running late. No answer. Damn. The rain slowed as I pulled off and into a Target parking lot a few minutes from my friend’s house. She lives in an area of town that I just don’t really go in a lot and I was pretty turned around at this point. As I looked for a parking spot, the rain doubled. It was coming down hard and I was pissed. I grabbed my umbrella and prayed my slingbacks wouldn’t fail me and I jumped over puddles. Each time I landed, I heard a small splash and felt water tickle my ankles, soaking the hem of my pants. My hair had gone from wavy and voluminous to frizzy and poufy. I’d had the presence of mine to not put on makeup before I left, so at least mascara wasn’t running down the side of my face. (I applied makeup on the way out of town.) I grabbed a (huge) gift bag and a wonderful woman left me skip her in line since I only had one item. (May good karma and blessings come her way.) I ran outside on my tiptoes. It was 11:47. Crap. My tires screeched again as I peeled out of the parking lot. I turned the wrong way, but finally ended up at my friend’s house as 11:55. I jumped out of the car apologizing and she smiled and said it was ok. She knows me and apparently had taken into account that I would be late when she picked a starting time. (My friends know me so well. One time when I was a bridesmaid, my friend gave me a itinerary for the weekend of the wedding. I compared it to the rest of the wedding party’s and my times were always at least 30 minutes earlier so I would always be on time.) We jumped into her car and I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw her in black pants, looking like she was heading for work as well. And she’s married, so I was pretty sure she knew the rules of bridal shower attire better than I did. We picked up coffee and muffins (as if I’d had time to eat in all of my running late!) and pulled out the directions. I gave her a rundown since she was driving. “Are we driving to the end of the world?” “Yes. Basically, go toward New Orleans and then south before you get there.” So, the first hour was work gossip. (Be nice to your PR people, everyone. We know what happens at work because it is our job to know this stuff. I’m just saying.) “Ok, the directions say that we’re to look for a motel on the side of the road after a gas station,” I said. “What?” “First a gas station and then a motel.” “Who made these directions?” “The Bride.” “Oh. How long has it been since she’s lived here?” “Um, six or seven years, ‘cause she double majored and then she’s been out of state for, um, at least a year and a half.” “Right. Well. I feel like we’re in the middle of nowhere.” “We are.” We finally found the house and the shower was very nice. The Bride has a very large family and they are just the nicest people in the world, very down-home, not pretentious. Just good people, as we like to say. The salt of the earth and such. The Bride circled the party oozing happiness. It was odd to see her in a fancy suit with a corsage and a ring on her finger. How many nights did I sit across from her in a bar as she drowned her latest man sorrows in a Killian’s? Too many to count. And here she was. Glowing and happy in a light khaki suit with her eyes sparkling as she balanced a plate of dainty finger sandwiches and a cup of some sort of green punch and welcomed her guests, friends and family members and the women whose weddings she’d been to over the years. She exuded this confidence and contentment. She opened presents and got more kitchen things than I think she’d ever use. “Do you even cook now?” I heckled as she opened my present. “Of course!” she exclaimed with mock surprise. “I can cook a lot of things. Like coffee …” I gossiped with two of her single bridesmaids from where she lives now. “Do you think they will make us play, um, games?” one asked me. “Shower games? I hope not. That would be horrible.” They didn’t. Bridesmaids and shower planners of the world should know that making adult women play stupid guessing games is always inappropriate and borderline insulting. Let us talk and pretend to be grown ups, please. After the gifts, we had cups of coffee and The Bride joined us to discuss the wedding. We gave her a run down of who was coming in from our circle of friends. We have a group of good friends from college who see each other sometimes during football season and at weddings. “Oh, you can bring B as your date,” The Bride said. “ I don’t remember if I responded to your e-mail about that or not.” “Oh, um, ok,” I said. I was ambivalent about it all on that particular day. B, The Bride and I were a nice little unit for almost a year before she moved. We had a designated night where we drank beer and ate raw oysters and bar food together. We were happy and inappropriate and even B got a bit misty eyed the last time we’d met for drinks before she moved. “But,” she interrupted my daydream. “I don’t believe for a second that you won’t make out with him.” Everyone laughed and I blushed. The Bride had witnessed the two of us and our terrible flirtations firsthand, including one night when we’d actually made out in front of everyone up against the bar. “We’ll see,” I said. (Truth be told, I left B a message asking him to be my “guest” (not date!) at her wedding so that we could reunite our little gang. I actually didn’t realize that he hadn’t been invited. He hasn’t called me back.) We made plans for the Bachelorette party in New Orleans and then we headed back home. We almost immediately got lost in this little town. Bayou to the left, wilderness to the right. We made a wrong turn down a one-way street in a not-so-nice area and my friend suggested that she go ask for directions. “Stay in the car, Ann Taylor,” I deadpanned. “We’re going to stick out like sore thumbs here.” Now, I do not live some huge city. They’re really aren’t a lot of HUGE cities in the South where I live. However, people from this area know the difference between “City” people and “Country” people. When you’re surrounded by towns of less than ten thousand people, those with several hundred thousand start to look pretty big. So, for this afternoon, we were city girls lost in the country looking at directions that referenced roads “that may be paved now” and tiny mom-and-pop stores. And it was raining. And we had two hours of driving ahead of us. I called back to the shower and someone gave us directions that involved “following the bayou” to another small town 30 miles away and then turning on some street that she didn’t know the name of (she said we’d know it when we saw it because it was in the middle of nowhere) and then following the highway until this bridge. I took notes and when I hung up we decided that the devil we knew (our directions) was better than the devil we didn’t (her directions). References were made to dueling banjos and squealing like a pig and we finally found our way back to the Interstate. “This is why country people hate us,” I said. “Because we act like being lost for 15 minutes is the End. Of. The. World.” “Hey! I can hang with both because I’ve lived in both.” “Sweetie, you grew up in New Orleans until your family moved to the Burbs, not the country.” Seeing no coffee shops on the way out of town (seriously, I found the one area of the country that Starbucks hasn’t colonized) we opted for big diet cokes from Burger King. We talked about love and marriage on the way home. I relayed my feelings about wanting something like what I was surrounded by growing up, but being frustrated with the looking. “I have to believe that I’ll just know. And it will stop being stressful because I will just know,” I said. “And, see,” she said. “That is exactly how it is.” She relayed the story of never thinking she’d want to be married, right up until she met the man she’s now married to, because she just knew he was right. Like he fit. It gave me hope. We finally got home around 7 p.m. and I headed home to make dinner. I intended to stay in, but The Lawyer was going out again with a friend that I love. She’s a sweet Southern Belle type, with this thick accent and quirky mannerisms (she refuses to drink a beer unless it is “properly dressed,” meaning wrapped in a napkin) and a boyfriend I also love. He is great and for some reason we get along like two peas in a pod. I wouldn’t have thought we’d like each other so much, but we have a really fun friendship. The Southern Belle and SB’s Boyfriend are one of my favorite couples. We drank beer and caught up (I haven’t seen him in months) and generally had a blast. I’d missed them both. Because The Lawyer introduced us, when she moved, we hadn’t kept up like we should have. But not anymore. We had too much fun Saturday to not hang out again. The Lawyer left early, but I stayed for another round. “So, what are we doing next weekend?” SB’s Boyfriend asked as we left. “Call me,” I said, giggling, feeling like this couple had just asked me out on a date or something. I should have said, “Anything as long as you bring your nice single male friends along.” But I am not that quick on my feet. I’d left my cell in the car on accident and when I checked my texts (just after midnight), I saw one from The Producer from around 11 p.m. inviting me out for a drink. I texted back, determined that she was still out and headed over to meet her, feeling quite the popular social butterfly. I stopped to smooth my hair and check my makeup when I got to the parking lot at the next bar. I was about to bound through the doors when I stopped to compose myself. The last time I’d met The Producer and her co-workers out at this bar (where they practically live), I’d met The Engineer (still hasn’t called). I had to prepare myself for the reality that he could be there and I would have to be able to either ignore him without looking childish or confidentially blow him off if he talked to me without looking too concerned. I stepped away from the door, embarrassed. But my phone rang and The Producer was coming to find me, so I went it like a big girl. I stopped to order a glass of wine and followed her into a back room. I quickly scanned the group, realized The Engineer wasn’t there and let out a big sigh of relief. I texted B a bit and he said he’d call when he got off of work. I had a good time with The Producer and her co-workers and made plans for them to join my pals and me for dinner and a good show in a few weeks. I paid out my tab and stayed around to drink a big glass of water (the bartended laughed when I asked for a pen to sign my receipt and some water). I wasn’t drunk by any means, but I’m one of those “better safe than sorry” types. One of The Producer’s co-workers teased me about the last time I came out with them and I braced myself for a round of “You made out in the parking lot with a boy,” but he joked more that I hadn’t kept up drink-for-drink with them. “I had to drive home!” I protested. “Excuses, excuses,” he teased. I headed out a bit before 2 a.m. and fell into bed hard. At 2:30, B called and invited me over for more drinks. I told him I was in bed and I would have to meet him another night. “You barely just left the bar!” He complained. “How could you be in bed already!” “I work quickly.”
You asked, I wrote more than 4,000 words in an answer. Yeah. You'll never ask again! If you could only continue to read one blog, which blog would you choose? Um, hello, mine? I am so sort of joking. Kind of. This is a bitch of a question, because I’m sure I’ll forget some wonderful blogger or look like I’m trying to suck up. So I’ll name some I love love. My favorite of the uber-populars are Go Fug Yourself and Wonkette. My favorite of those who date are This Fish, I am, Therefore I date and CityFlirting. (I was a huge proponent of A Singular Man, as he did a great round up of the Dating Blogosphere, but he left and never came back.) My favorite of the mens are Neilocka and Anonymous Coworker. My favorite Southern blogger (even though she lives above the Mason-Dixon now) is Belle in the Big Apple. That’s just for now. Stay tuned, they change a lot. Favorite wine? I’ve been really into whites lately. I don’t have the money to drink the expensive stuff, so I usually go with Chateu Ste. Michelle Riesling or Eco Domani Pinot Grigio. This weekend I was all about the Sauvignon Blanc. But I also really like this one kind of inexpensive wine from South Afria, KWV Chenin Blanc Steen. (The Banker turned me on to it, even though she’s more into reds right now.) The Beatles or Elvis? The Beatles. Duh. What exactly ARE grits? Girls Raised In The South … everyone together now, “Ooooh.” I actually looked this one up. I’ve eaten a grit or two in my day, but I’ve never had to explain them to anyone. They’re actually parts of a broken corn kernel, apparently. Quaker has a good explanation. I eat them mostly for breakfast, although they are acceptable side or main dishes as well. (In New Orleans, they eat Grits and Grillades, but I don’t eat meat, so I pass.) A lot of people do grits with red eye gravy or cheese grits, but I like mine plain with maybe a small pat of butter mixed in. Really hot. And, yes, I make them in the microwave even though they are best made over the stove. Mmmmm. Now I’m hungry. What's the big appeal with Crocks? Ok, I have to say that I was so anti-Croc until I got my pair. I mean, I thought they were so crazy stupid looking. But yes, they are that comfortable. They are. I think it is because the material is firm with some give and really light (unlike some tennis shoes). Plus, I love anything that slides on like a slipper. And the colors are great. If you’re wearing ridiculous foam shoes, you should get them in the loudest damn color possible, right? Mine are bright pink. Do you keep anything under your bed? The bodies of the boys who don’t call. No, I am serious. Actually, usually there’s a missing shoe, a random pair of panties and my day planner. What's your favorite color? I know half of you think I’ll say pink, the color of girlieness. And the other half think I’m going to pick clear, the color of vodka. Well, it’s actually blue. A really deep bright blue. Where is the absolute best place to get an inexpensive (less than $50) handbag? Can I just say that I loved this question because it gave me a chance to shop online in the name of research? Ok, I have to say that I have found some cute, inexpensive purses at department stores on the sale rack. Sure, there are a lot of duds and leftover "Mrs. Kutcher" purses or bags with your zodiac sign on them (That was a trend? Why?), but you also catch the occasional gem, like a Kenneth Cole mini bag. The change of season is a great time to shop these sales, especially if you are like I am and your every day purse is big and black. If you're looking for inexpensive, you can also try Target, because it has a large array of styles. The problem I have with Target is that some of the bags look pretty cheap. You get what you pay for. So, it is kind of touch and go sometimes. But there are some generally cute finds, like this in bright white, this small straw clutch and this cute blue East West tote. Also, Target has really embraced designer lines, like Issac Mizrahi, Luella and Fiorucci. (Although the Luella bags are totally not my style. At all. That cherry coin purse is okay, though.) I think the key to finding inexpensive handbags is to watch the fabric of the bags. A faux leather bag is going to look a lot cheaper than a microfiber, straw or canvas bag. And thankfully canvas totes and straw bags are great for spring and summer. (Oh! And I must say that I do not like the cute little laptop bags that everyone gets from Target. I brought mine back because, yeah, my damn ThinkPad didn’t fit. Well, the laptop did, but the cords and wires and headphones and my camera didn’t. So why bother? I actually use old every day purses to carry my laptop in now. My retired Chinese Laundry Hobo is a perfect fit for the computer, cords and camera.) Also, since we’re talking shopping on a budget, one way to get good deals is to register online with the chains or designers you frequent and for sites like Bluefly. I have a junk e-mail address for this purpose. You can get free shipping, special coupons and notification of online sales. And, if you shop a lot, pay attention to things you’d like to buy if only they weren’t so expensive and then watch for them to go on sale online. I know people hate junk mail, but I promise I have saved a lot of money using promo codes and coupons. And, you know, I want a damn Paddington bag as much as the next girl. But I'm realistic and I know that I simply cannot afford it if I want to be able to eat and not be evicted and live. The converse of this is that I don’t feel bad about spending more than $50 on a big bag I will carry every day. It certainly isn’t necessary, but don’t beat yourself up if you have nice taste. I think I’ve maxed out at $100, but if I had the money I would have no qualms about spending more on a nice bag. What's your best memory? I have so many awesome memories, but one of my favorites is stepping off of the plane at Charles de Gaulle when I was 18 for a 10-day whirlwind trip to France. I’d paid for almost every penny of the school trip (and the one the year before to D.C.) myself with babysitting and summer life guarding money I’d saved all throughout high school. I’m the oldest and my parents would have given anything to be able to just give me the money, but there was no way they could afford it and still have me and my siblings in private school and buy a new car so I could drive the old one. (They did give me the last $100 for my plane ticket and a great all-weather coat for Christmas. And many relatives and family friends gave me small amounts of money, like $10 or $20, on the sly in the days before I left.) I didn’t have a ton of extra money to spend on fabulous shopping or to buy anything more as presents than cheap trinkets of the Eiffel Tower. But I appreciated those 10 days more than any of my classmates who had their parents’ credit cards for limit-free shopping. I remember every sip of wine and bite of crepes and Croque Monsieurs and poulet frites and Orangina and even the dry beef dish on the airplane ride over there. I could tell you that they showed reruns of “Home Improvement” and “An Officer and a Gentleman” on the plane. I cried when I lit a candle at Notre Dame (and a little again now) and when we passed where Princess Di was killed. I would have just STAYED in the Louvre if they’d let me. Each time a chaperone offered to take us for an evening coffee at a café or for a night stroll through whatever city we were in, I went. I pissed off French shopkeepers because I couldn’t quite figure out the money. One woman even reached in my wallet and pulled the money out for me because I did not know how much to give her. I tried in earnest to speak as much French as possible, which I think people appreciated. I may never go back, but I hope I do. Those 10 days were worth every diaper changed, every sunburn earned and every obnoxious child refusing to go to sleep. And my parents did more for me by making me pay for it myself than they would have done if they’d put me on the plane with a thousand in “fun money” in my pocket. My mom still has a picture of me in front of Chenonceau on the shelf in our living room. If you have to be out of the house at a moment's notice, what's the one item of make-up you refuse to leave without? Uh, wow, so I leave the house without makeup a lot. A LOT. And I was going to say Burt’s Bees Chapstick, but I actually don’t consider this makeup at all. It’s part of my maintenance and upkeep. The truth is, I keep three products in my purse for quick polishing. Clinique Stay Matte Sheer Pressed Powder in Stay Neutral, Clinique Glosswear For Lips Sheer Shimmers in Sunset and BadGal Lash mascara by Benefit. So, I’m cheating again, but that’s it. Incidentally, I’d like to go on record as saying that some the most beautiful women I know aren’t terribly made up or overdone. I don’t wear much base during the day. I have a basic five- minute routine that serves me well. (Sure I take more time when I can, but I am almost always runing behind schedule.) I do a light application of Clinique concealer to cover blemishes and even out underye circles, a light dusting of the aforementioned powder, a light pink or perhaps a violet shadow all over my eyelid and a swipe of light white on my brow bone and in the corner of my eye. A few swipes of Bad Gal Lash on the top lashes (and maybe the bottom), lip gloss and go. At night I may add a bit of base or more conceler. And I also add either a rosey-brown or a deep purple to the crease of my eyelid and a dusting of blush (I actually use one of those cheap Covergirl blushes is a rosey color). And maybe a darker lip (Almost Lipstick in Sheer Blackberry by Clinique), but otherwise that’s it. And I don’t mean to shill for Clinique. I’ve been wearing Clinique for years (my mom wears it and when I was young I always took her cast-offs from the fabulous Clinique bonuses) and I find it applies well, it doesn’t irritate my skin, the colors compliment my skin tone. While it isn’t drug store cheap, it is worth the little bit of money you spend on it. And I’m serious. The lady from the Clinique counter at the mall called me to tell me it was "Bonus Time" a few weeks back. And you so think I’m joking and I’m not. OK, you seem to be an interesting and fun person on the page? In what big way are you different in real life? I’m actually not fun and interesting? Kidding! In the “real world,” I think I’m less confident, less willing to speak my mind, more fearful of rejection. The blog allows me to do two things. First, it allows me to just get out an emotion and be done with it. And it is allows me to edit myself and not share every little aspect of everything. At times, in real life I am even more neurotic and fall into those painful single-girl traps. (“If I go to his favorite bar, maybe he’ll stop by!”) Also, I get in these moods. This weekend, I went out for three nights in a row. But I’ll go weeks without social occasions and ignore my cell phone and just brood. I can be really catty and bitchy at times. I am a loud mouth and terribly inappropriate at times. I don't think before I speak, especially when I am drunk. And I definitely hold a lot of stuff in to avoid conflict. I am not always Charming. Sometimes, I am just super unfabulous and cranky. It is not all wine and heels and manicures, trust me. While I am infinitely more confident than I was years ago, I still have these moments of sheer terror where I worry that I’m making an ass out of myself or that people are laughing at me and not with me or that I really really really am going to wind up totally alone and living in a retirement community with no visitors ever. And my kitchen is always a mess. Top five worst pick-up lines (or attempts, whatever you like) you've unfortunately been forced to endure. Oh, this should be fun. Well, one time a guy leaned over and gave me a soft kiss on the lips and then pulled back and said, “What was that? Let’s find out!” and then totally went in for the full-on lip lock tongue attack. It was. Just. Wow. And not in a good way. Another night a very intoxicated dorky friend of a friend was talking (I use the term “talking” loosely as “slurring” would be more appropriate.) to me and trying to be all cool. I don’t know what I said or didn’t say, but the next thing I knew, he had extinguished a lit cigarette ON HIS TONGUE. And he was proud of himself and thinking I would be impressed. I just paid my tab and left. “Are those real?” I’ve gotten this more than once. Assholes. All of them. “I need love. S, we all need love,” said a male friend of mine who unfortunately is nowhere near my type. He was drunk, we were dancing at a bar and he leaned in and was going to go for the full-on kiss. Fortunately I don’t think he remembers that I just smiled and grabbed another male friend of mine and thankfully the song changed. Or if he does remember it, he doesn’t say anything about it. He’s a nice boy, so I didn’t make a big thing about it. (Although I will admit that there was some bitchiness shared with my girlfriends in private.) One hysterical night I made out with the same (younger) boy as my College Roommate. We’d just moved into a new complex and had been bragging about our hot tub all night. The younger guy we’d both kissed was so impressed by this and it took him awhile and a few minutes of bad conversation to realize that, under no circumstance would he be getting roommate-on-roommate action in the public hot tub at our apartment. No way. Those are in no particular order. And actually, they’re just the first five I thought of. As someone who has no idea what they want to be when they grow up, i'd like to know more about what is involved in PR work--it sounds like it would be right up my alley. I have thought about getting into it. Any advice? Things I should know? PR is awesome work because you get to be involved with the hustle and bustle where you are working. You have to be in the know in order to do your job. I've never worked for a firm, but I enjoy working in my current job because I get to work with a lot of people across different departments and specialties and I have greater access to the decision makers here than the average mid-twenties staffer in an entry-level job. I get to write and do some light graphic design and some media relations work. I guess what I think aspiring PR people need to know is that there are A LOT of different kinds of marketing and communication jobs. Sometimes you're doing PR for a company or an organization or an issue and you do a little bit of everything. But you can also work in a more "event planning" role and work on specific functions for different clients. I knew someone who did fundraising and event planning and she LOVED it. I would hate working with caterers and florists. Bo-ring! I think some people watch Samantha on "Sex and the City" or PoweR Girls on MTV and think, "Fun! Celebrities! Big paychecks! I want to do this." And while that may be the reality in small subset of PR in large cities like New York or Los Angeles, I would wager that most Public Relations professionals do far less exciting things, like write articles for the company newsletters and prepare correspondence for the high ups. That said, I love my job. And I think I play an important role, because it doesn't matter how great your company, organization or client is if no one knows what you do or understands how you fit into the larger picture or if you just don't communicate your goals well. (And I have NEVER wanted to be the person promoting the charity golf tournament. Ever.) There are a lot of ways to get your feet wet. If you are in college, I would recommend getting some practical experience however you can. Too many people don't do anything in college and then expect to get great jobs and it isn't going to happen. Colleges have A LOT of opportunities for aspiring PR people in addition to just classes. Some schools hire students as interns in their public affairs departments. There are PR student organizations you can join and some local professional PR organizations have a student rate (especially if they're in a college town). Also, some large college organizations have a PR person for their club who promotes membership and helps plans events and fundraisers and may even deal with local or college media some. (I know this sounds lame, but say you go to a large college and you are a member of a organization with several hundred members. Chances are you have a Web site (which you can help maintain and produce content for) and an award or scholarship fund and ALL of these things have to be planned and promoted well. And if you can go into an interview for an internship or job and say, "I helped plan this fundraiser for the Young Business Sharks, designed this ad about our Jaws party that ran in our college newspaper and we had two news items published about this and raised $5,000 to help pay for our members to attend an Eat or Be Eaten business competition, where we placed third," then you are going to be much more impressive than someone who just got a B in Campaigns, but really “is, like, a total people person.” Because colleges are like little cities and if you show that you can do your job well within a small community, then chances are you will be more likely to duplicate that success than someone who just went to class and that's it.) Also, you have to be able to write well. You have to be able to explain complicated things (your company's financials, your organization's position on an issue, D'orsay heels versus slingbacks) clearly and quickly. While smiling. (Unless smiling would be inappropriate, like if you were doing PR for that mine that collapsed or something.) I would actually recommend writing for a local publication or college paper if you can. You want to be able to bring something into an interview to show that you've got skills. I CANNOT stress the importance of honing your writing skills enough. As a PR professional, people in your organization will look to you for well-written, effective messaging. If you're not in school and are just considering a career change, I would keep my eye out for volunteer opportunities. Civic organizations and nonprofits often need some PR help, which may be a good way to get some experience part-time AND will help get you connections. (For example, if you're helping with a fundraiser for a group, you will probably have to deal with the PR people for companies making donations.) Ok that's a long answer. But yes. PR rules. Dude, we should so start a PR chicks blog ring or something. Favourite shoes? Describe to tiniest detail please. Possibly with a picture. Where you found them, why you love them. I’m going to go with my favorite right now, because I change my mind a lot. You will see pictured a pair of black, high-heeled, pointy toe boots from Nine West. They are black with a side zipper and an almost stiletto-like heel. They come up about two inches above my ankle, so not quite mid calf. I bought them in October at the Nine West boot sale. I think I paid $50 for them on sale, so they were probably originally between $80 and $100, I suppose. They are definitely a great purchase because they are very comfortable and have a really classic shape. I imagine I will be able to wear these next fall and winter just as much as I wear them now. The heel is high. It is probably less than three inches, but more than two. But I like it because in the past I’ve had boots with such clunky heels that were big and square and not ladylike at all. And so I still feel slightly dainty with the stiletto heel instead of a thick, stacked man heel. Also, you might not be able to see it, but there are very small treads on the ball of the rubberish sole. They’re tiny little raised bumps and you really cannot see them at all when I have them on. But they give the lightest bit of grip, which makes it easy to walk. I don’t slide or slip and because the sole isn’t hard and it gives some, it took me an almost negligible amount of time to break them in. They’re great with trousers or jeans, so I can wear them to nights out at the bar (as I did this weekend) but also to dinner with nice black pants. All around, worth every cent I spent. Has anyone found out your identity? Uh, no. What have you heard? What's your favorite drink? Anything vodka-based is fine by me. But lately I’ve been drinking a lot of wine. Although I do still shake up a Cosmo every now and again. Would you wear socks with sandals? Only if I had some terrible foot-related disease and I was required to cover my feet en route to the hospital and all I had to wear were sandals. But, otherwise, hell no. Do you like Metro cards? Metro cards? As in the things you use to ride the Metro in DC? I mean, sure, I guess I like them as much as people in New York like subway tokens … Who's your pick on American Idol? Taylor Hicks. I mean, I have to cheer for the man my mom wants me to marry … Would you like fries with that? Only if they are baked sweet potato. What is the story of losing your losing your virginity? I contemplated answering this. I really did. But ultimately, I’ve never wanted to be a sex blogger and I’ve never wanted to dish too much about this particular activity we all enjoy so much. (Go back through the archives, you’ll see that I always stop before it gets too steamy.) Some people mix in details with their stories, and I envy their ability to be so frank. Also, I am a lady. A LADY! ;P What’s your funniest date story? I went on this terrible set-up one time. We saw “Cruel Intentions” and he was not cute and there was a trailer for the South Park movie and the guy spoke in his best Cartman voice FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT. And I was miserable because he was just very dorky and awkward and should have been at home playing Magic: The Gathering or something. Afterwards we went to get snacks and hang out at someone’s house and the guy was so lame, so cheesy and just terrible. He kept saying, “I want some CHEEEEESY POOOOUUUFS!” and insisted that we get root beer in the bottle because “it looked like we were buying beer.” (I think we were 19 at the time, maybe.) I bought a mini container of Ben and Jerry’s and suffered through the rest of the evening by starting my routine of erasing the memory of a horrible date with ice cream BEFORE THE DATE WAS EVEN OVER. And the guy so leaned in for a kiss when he dropped me off at my dorm and I ducked really obviously and gave him a hug and all but ran into my dorm, never to see him again. Have I told that one before? I think I have. It is funny now, but it was terrible at the time. I still convulse when I think of “Cruel Intentions,” which is ironic because I took a class on Laclos and Les Liaisons Dangereuses in college and I have seen four or five versions of the “Dangerous Liaisons” story told via movie. And my final paper compared how different filmmakers interpreted an aspect of the book and why. So I actually own “Cruel Intentions” now. But I still shudder when I put it on.
Last night I was at my parents' house for a few hours while my Dad tried to fix my windshield wipers, which have not been wiping. At all.
So we're watching American Idol and I'm helping my mom fold laundry. I'm giving her updates on each of the performers. ("He's got his brother in the crowd." Or "They barely showed him at all before this, so he'll never make it through." "Man, I hope Brenna gets cut.") She doesn't like Simon very much, but she is mildly amused by the show.
And then gray-haired Taylor Hicks comes on.
"Oh Mom, listen to him. I like this guy," I said. "He sings really well and is really passionate about it and he just reminds me of the sweetest of the good ol' Southern boys I know."
"You like him?" Her ears perked up.
"Yeah, listen to him. He sings differently. Listen to him sing with that great strong voice with a bit of understated rasp. Not to mention, he seems cool. I could have a beer with him and he can play the harmonica."
"How old is he? He's got gray hair!"
"Um, late 20s? I don't know, he's older than I am."
"Well, is he single?"
"What? How would I know that?"
"Well, I mean, is he? You know other things about other people. So, you should know if he is single. You seem to be really into him."
Ah yes, my mother is trying to set me up with male semi-finalists from American Idol now. She has given up on random young men she sees at work, various sons and grandsons of people she knows and the occasional cute waiter or guy on the street. Poor mom. She just wants me to get married so very, very much.
So, call me, Taylor. A nice Southern boy like you would make my momma one very happy lady and my daddy a proud poppa.
It has been seven months since I last opened the floor for questions. Since readers seem to cycle in and out (and because I am having a long workweek) I thought La Charming would answer questions again. You can read the previous answers here. The same rules as last time apply, meaning I am not doing anything to further crumble my already damaged anonymity. I probably will not answer repeats and I reserve the right to ignore you if you are being mean, offensive or otherwise obnoxious. So, post your questions in the comments. They can be about me, about blogging, about men, about dating, about shoes, etc. And, you can ask as many as you like, because if you get annoying, I will just ignore you like a drunk drooling boy at a bar. You have been warned. Just remember that I am a professional question-answerer and I can be pretty slick.
Just what the Internets needed ... another bored blogger posting pictures of her mundane existence. Just in case you wanted a glimpse into the life of La Charming, I present (for your viewing pleasure) my Sunday evening: Oh wow. Look at that grout up close. Remind me to bleach that. This is me breaking in some new, inexpensive slingbacks I bought for work purposes. I had to take off my Crocs to accomplish this. I like to break in new shoes whilst houseworking ... Look ma, I cooked! I even made my own salad dressing. (I bet the fellas love a girl who makes her own blue cheese vinaigrette fresh for dinner.) The lime juice is for my marinade for my fish. I forgot to buy real limes. And the creole mustard is for the dressing. I put creole mustard in as many dishes as possible. My yummy dinner. Mahi-mahi (it was overcooked, unfortunately), blue cheese salad and fresh roasted asparagus (with whole cloves of garlic). And Diet Coke avec lime, because I had my share of wine already this weekend.
Friday Overjoyed that the workweek was finally over and pleased by some news regarding a possible raise, I promptly forgot the trials and tribulations of the week and strolled out of work that afternoon humming the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore show. “Who can turn the world on with her smile / Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?” I actually caught myself twirling in the hall. It was casual Friday and I had worn a bright pink v-neck under a little sweater, with my “long” jeans (tailored specifically so I can wear heels with them), dangly earrings and my version of the pointy-toe, high-heeled boot that every woman I know lives in on the weekends from late fall to winter. So I was feeling particularly cute and young. I’d dodged looks from the ladies at work who are older, married, mothers and grandmothers. The looks that say, “You are going to twist an ankle in those boots and rip an earlobe off because of those dangly earrings. And your chest will probably fall out of that low-cut shirt.” When I get those looks, I just smile and strut down the hall like I own the place in my three-inch heels, which I’ve worn so much that they really are comfortable now. So I did a little dance through the empty halls at almost 5 p.m. (most people either work four days a week or come in so they can leave by 4 p.m.), because I was suddenly feeling relatively invincible. “You can have the town / Why don’t you take it? / You’re gonna make it after all.” I met two girlfriends for a small Greek feast for dinner. We ate spicy falafel and salad with strong feta and drank Santorini wine and munched on pita and humus. I ate more calories that I probably care to admit. After dinner, my married pal headed home to see her hubby and The Banker joined me at a small bar for another glass of wine (which quickly turned into two). We were engaged in a conversation about men, of course. How you meet them, how long you should date them, how those of us who grew up in unbroken homes are just as screwed up about them as people from splintered homes. It was one of those conversations you can have only with another single woman. My married or seriously committed friends, bless their well-meaning hearts, assure us tritely that “He is out there” or “Marriage isn’t all it is cracked up to be.” And they’re probably right on both accounts at times. But the last thing any hopelessly single woman I know wants to hear is something patronizing like, “Oh, ladies, be glad you don’t have a husband around to mess up the house” or “I remember back when I was single, I used to think I’d never find someone! And then I met Him!” Seriously, Well-Meaning Non-Single Women of the World, stop. We appreciate that you’re trying to say things to make us Single Ladies and Hopeless Romantics feel better, but what you could really do instead is not give us pitying looks when we talk about disaster dates, suggest in a concerned tone that maybe we could bring “just a friend” to your weddings when we don’t have dates or (and this is my pet peeve) bring the roses your boyfriend/husband/significant other sent you around the office for a tour o’ cubicles before you place them on top of your bookshelf so that everyone walking through Cubeland can see how loved you are. Really, it just pisses us off. But I’ve digressed. I was having one of those conversations about being single with The Banker. We were discussing the pros and cons of online dating and generally having a nice time when I spotted a woman in a booth across from our table motioning to my chest. “Do you see those?” she asked her friends as she pointed to my breasts. “I mean, that is just ridiculous.” I tried to slyly look down and prayed that I wasn’t having an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction. I had leaned in a bit while The Banker was speaking because the music was kind of loud and the very edge of my lace bra was peeking out of my round-necked top. I adjusted it, but it certainly wasn’t a major issue and my breasts were certainly covered and not inappropriately displayed. The neckline of my top was pretty open, with a princess seam under my bustline. I’m going to admit, the construction of the shirt does not hide the fact that I have a chest, but I am careful and generally try to avoid letting the low neckline slip down so that you can see too much cleavage. (In fact, when I stand up and sit up with good posture, you can’t see cleavage at all.) Unfortunately, short of binding my chest down with freezer tape, there is little any shirt can do to hide the D-cups. I certainly don’t have Pam Anderson’s chest, but I have my fair share in the breast department. And I’m hoping working out and eating healthy (save the three glasses of wine from Friday!) will take some extra pounds off. Sometimes when women make catty comments about my chest, I want to just whip my head around and tell them, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize it was burka night tonight at the bar. Forgive me for offending your delicate sensibilities. Bitch.” Also, the woman harping on my chest was wearing a shirt that showed far more skin that mine. If she’d had my breasts, it would have been an unfortunate situation. And yeah, I had a sweater shrug on too, so it would be difficult to make the argument that I was just putting the Twins out there for all to see. (And even if I did have the Girls out for the world to see, who cares? It’s MY body in MY clothes that I pay for by working hard at MY job.) I tried to ignore the women and their catty comments as they continued whining about breasts. But I caught this one curly-haired girl giving me a stare down. And it made me really uncomfortable. We headed out around midnight and I was a bit frazzled by the whole thing, which I hadn’t brought up with The Banker, because she is a bit more conservative than I am and I doubt she’d want to discuss my breasts and their level of coveredness in public. I climbed in bed, watched a few episodes of my recently delivered “Grey’s Anatomy” DVD and drifted to sleep around 3 a.m., feeling less invincible before, but ever-so-slightly like I might still be able to turn the world on with my smile. Saturday I woke up and took a friend to pick up a rental car. My Mary Tyler Moore-ness started to wane as I realized that there was some sort of electrical short in my car that had caused my windshield wipers and blinkers to stop working. (Not a good thing for a cold, rainy, overcast weekend.) I went and saw the new baby, who is just so tiny and cute enough to eat. I held him and he looked so perfect wrapped up in a blanket with his tiny fingers and cute button nose. He is so little that I thought I’d break him when I changed his diaper. My eyes glazed over as I whispered secrets into his sleeping ears about how special he was and how we were so excited that he was here. (Ok, he’s only like a week old, but it is never too early to start working on his self-esteem, right?) “You do not need a baby.” My mom said, interrupting my daydream. “Not now, dear.” I protested that I wasn’t thinking that I did and my Mom gave me a knowing look that said she wasn’t born yesterday. So I reluctantly left the cutie with him mom and went home. Saturday night I met another girlfriend at the same bar (didn’t plan it that way, it just happened) for more wine and catching up. A crew of random people we knew stopped by the visit for awhile. I finally dragged myself home at around 1:30 a.m. and woke up with cottonmouth in full makeup with a Whole Foods burrito wrapper on the nightstand this morning. Ah yes, the late night drunk carb fest. At least they were organic vegan carbs, right?
I have been feeling oddly maternal lately. All of this started when I ventured into the Baby Gap a few weeks ago to buy a shower present for a family member. Soft cotton clothes in light pastel colors, mini baseball caps and itsy-bitsy socks surrounded me. And, much like a cartoon anvil comes crashing down on the unsuspecting coyote, my maternal instincts rushed through me.
It has only been recently that I've even owned up to the fact that one day I do want children. (One day. Not now. No no no. Not now.) So feeling overtly maternal, well, was more than slightly unexpected.
As I sauntered through the Baby Gap choosing between leaf green baby snugglies and soft fleece blankets, I was locked in a sort of intense daydream about children and having them.
(I swear, I just lost every last male reader I ever had. Ever. Guys do NOT want to hear about the wanting of the children. At least, I find that they don't. Or the ones I know don't.)
"Don't you just love that?" a saleswoman asked me, as I fingered a twee nightgown with a bottom that tied closed. "It is so perfect at night when you don't want to be messing with snaps. I always put my baby to sleep in that."
I smiled and contemplated the size. The nightgown looked small. I could not imagine a person fitting inside of it. I was about to ask her how big, say, a three-month-old child was when she interrupted me.
"How old is your child?"
I was taken aback. I am not a Mom! I do not give off a Mom vibe! I was on my way to dinner with the ladies before seeing "Brokeback Mountain" for crying out loud. I was staying out late. On a weeknight!
"Oh, I don't have one. I am, you know, shopping. For a baby shower."
She seemed disappointed that I wasn't a member of her special baby nightgown club. And at that moment, I have to admit that I was too. I selected a baby outfit with a darling matching hat that is reversible (to give baby more fashion choices) and left the world of tiny trousers behind me. I felt a slight longing for kids while at the actual shower, but in general, the feeling waned.
A few weeks later I was watching my younger cousins one evening. They were miraculously well-behaved, eating bowls full of gumbo like mad and generally entertaining themselves with video games. They didn't even fight me when it came time for baths.
The younger one was all dressed in his pajamas and sitting on the couch when I walked by straightening up. His hair was a little damp and it was pointing every which was but normal.
I smiled, grabbed a comb and smoothed his hair into place so it wouldn't dry all askew.
"You look like a nice little boy now," I assured him and kissed him on the forehead.
He got a devilish look in his eyes.
"Do I look handsome?"
He turned his head, pursed his lips and batted his long eyelashes, showing off his carefully groomed hair.
"Yes, babe, you look very handsome. Very handsome indeed." I smiled. And those maternal instincts fluttered a bit in my stomach.
Just now, I overheard a coworker talking to her child on the phone. She had this fabulous animated tone, so much happier than her normal tone.
"There was a fire truck at work today! Can you believe it?" She relayed the story to her son.
"No, no. There wasn't a fire. Or smoke. No, no one was smoking inside the building," she laughed.
She paused and I could tell that the child was talking.
"Yes, dear. You are right. It is not good for people to smoke inside the building," she said very seriously.
And now it's back. Stupid silly feeling maternal.
I will knock this feeling, I will. I'm so going to dinner with the girls on Friday night, staying out waaaay late, flirting with boys, drinking wine and wearing uncomfortable shoes. I will be young and fabulous and irresponsible and I will prove that I am no more fit to be a mother than Britney "Look at my baby drive!" Spears.
Hear that, Maternal Instinct? I'll show you!
I was trying to have an opinion on Valentine's Day, I really was. I was trying to be upset or angry or happy or all "girl power."
I wrote and rewrote and just butchered a post about the day last night. I didn't have anything special to say. So I cranked the iTunes and tracked through some of my favorites.
I listened to a range of love-themed songs, from the classic wedding tune "At Last" by Etta James, which can single handedly melt my heart when I have become cynical, to the wrenching "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt, which is enough to make me want to crawl under the covers and cry for days when I can commiserate.
There is the slightly sad, but ultimately hopeful "Ready for Love" by India Arie, about being ready for and open to mature feelings of love. And the dismal "I Know" by Fiona Apple, which captures that moment when you delude yourself into thinking he loves you and lower yourself to being in the background and waiting.
When I am coming out of the fog of romanticism and need to feel empowered, no song lifts by spirits like "Right To Be Wrong" by Joss Stone. But before I get there, I'm always going to stop by for some Aretha "R-E-S-P-E-C-T." And I'd be lying if I neglected to mention that "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor is one of those cheesy disco songs during which I give myself permission to sing loudly and do hand motions while in public.
The bitter break-up anthem for people my age, "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morissette has come in handy at times. (As has "Untouchable Face" by Ani DiFranco and the absolutely miserable "Grace is Gone" by the Dave Matthews Band.) And I've always found it quite ironic (but, like, really ironic) that the same woman who penned one of the most forcefully angry love-is-over songs also (on the same album) has one of my favorite songs for new loves and new crushes and possibilities in "Head Over Feet," (from "Jagged Little Pill") which I have giddily enjoyed since high school.
While we're talking new love, I listen to "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" year-round, because it describes that time in the beginning before the other shoe has dropped when you are just ecstatic to even be approaching the object of your affection. And songwriter John Hiatt gets me every time with "Feels Like Rain," because who doesn't love to spend a lazy rainy day in the arms of the person they love. And yes, Joni Mitchell, I can drink "A Case Of You" and still be on my feet.
I am a huge fan of the terribly overplayed and over hyped "Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flats, because at my core I always be a hopeless romantic and I can honestly still say I believe there will be a moment when all of the dating disasters, the unreturned phone calls, the silly games and emotional unsteadiness, crying into a pillow and having "just one more glass of wine" will make sense and end with me happy with a guy who is going to love me for all of my ridiculousness and flaws and who will just get me.
And if there's not, there's always tequila and Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name." Sing it, man.
A dear lawyer friend of mine moved to a suburb of New Orleans in early August. She got a great job in the city, rented a cute condo and was settling into N’awlins just fine. Just fine indeed. And she was well poised to continue her storybook life as a high-heeled, well-suited attorney with a nice firm. This was the life that she’d dreamt of and that dream kept her focused through each all-nighter, each early class, each final. And she loved the life she’d earned. Things didn’t work out as she had planned, obviously. Mother Nature is stronger that human will sometimes. But she’s a hard worker, a nose-to-the-grindstone type. And she wasn’t content to have her story end somewhere around a molded out townhouse and the end to her dream job. So she did what a high-heeled, well-suited attorney should do. She sent out more resumes than we can count. And she landed a job, making more money, at smaller shop in her hometown of sorts. And she bought herself a cute little house and some new furniture and things are very different, as she misses New Orleans very much. And on Saturday, friends, family and new co-workers met at her cute little home for a housewarming. I made the trip to the North Shore for the occasion. It reminded me of why I love this place so much. There was food, rich with flavor and so many fat grams and calories that I didn’t count. Gatherings like these – complete with loud talking, music and overflowing drink – are the same in every household ‘round here. Sure, there are different ingredients each time, like how my friend’s family puts corn in their gumbo and mine is more the okra type, but the end result is the same. It was spicy and good, like the company. After the “grown-ups” left, we drank more. Did shots. Played cards. We were loud and cursing and young. And it was fun and relaxing. Sunday morning I woke up still dressed in clothes from the night before on an air mattress in the spare bedroom with hair mussed and head pounding. A small crew of friends had crashed on various couches and beds, and we convened in the kitchen to relive the night before. (Apparently I had called the girl who got in the actual spare bed a whore because I’d wanted to sleep there and demanded that my friend bring me “my pills,” because I wanted to take a Tylenol before bed. Angry drunk, I guess.) And we munched on leftover crackers with cheesy spreads and crisp carrots in ranch dip and muffins the Lawyer’s mom left for the occasion. My friends tried to convince me that the “hair of the dog” would perk me right up. They made Mimosas and Bloody Marys, but I was in no mood for more alcohol. People slowly dispersed. I lounged around, trying to build up the energy to drive home. “Do you want to go?” asked the Lawyer. “Do you want to go see where it flooded?” I didn’t. I’d been avoiding this for months, changing my New Year’s plans just days before the big night because I didn’t want to go to New Orleans. Tears had welled in my eyes as I’d driven in on Saturday, just to see the thinned out treeline and debris lining the roads. And I hadn’t seen anything yet. Some people I know had been to the city and visited the hard-hit areas. The Lower Ninth, Chalmette. I’d never gone. Something about it just seemed improper, as if I’d be sightseeing in someone else’s personal destruction and misery. But I needed to see what happened, I suppose. And the Lawyer wanted to take me. I think she wanted to tell the story and to have her friends know just how bad it was, since telling doesn’t work. Everyone always told me that pictures don’t do it justice. And everyone was right. “It doesn’t always look like this,” she said as we drove through her town. “I mean, with the trash. And the trailers everywhere. It should be cleaner.” She made excuses because she didn’t want me to think poorly of where she’d grown up. “I know, baby. Sweetie, I know.” Trees were mangled, houses blown out. Or sometimes there were just pilings, with no house to be found. And the Lake was smooth and calm looking, not angry and vicious like it was six months before. Cars, boats and trucks decorated the sides of the road and people’s front yards. No person could destroy in this way. Not with a million machines and bombs and the will of an army could you cause such uniquely terrible devastation in a mere matter of hours. It is so terrible that there are no words, and I don’t even know why I’m trying to force there to be. I blinked back tears behind the big sunglasses I’d worn specifically to hide my emotion. And the Lawyer pointed out landmarks, houses of people she knew. There was a sense of randomness about the damage, with some homes just being totally demolished and others looking like they just needed a good gutting and some remodeling. “You know, people work their whole lives to get here,” she said. “To live on the water, on the lake. This is their retirement, their nest-egg.” “From rich to poor,” she said. “From the nicest houses in the town to trailers in their front yards.” I left shortly thereafter. I didn’t go see my family’s property; most notably because it’s been years since I’ve been and street signs and landmarks are hard to come by right now. (“You’ll never find it, babe,” Mom said when I’d called and inquired about the street name. “And if you did, I know you wouldn’t recognize it. Not now.”) It’s just as well, I suppose. I wasn’t paying attention when I left and I got on the wrong Interstate as I went westward home. I felt nauseous thinking about driving on a bridge that was previously washed out and passing by New Orleans East. From the highway I could see blue-covered roofs, with tarps to protect the homes from the elements. And homes where the tarps weren’t necessary, because you can’t cover a gaping hole if you don’t have a roof to begin with. More tears, only this time there was no reason to hide them, as I was alone. Words to sad songs filled my mind. And I let them, because sometimes you need to be sad, to get it out, to wallow in pain. “Rained real hard / it rained for a real long time / six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline” I grabbed my phone and called a friend who’d moved back to the city for his graduate program just a month ago. He was free, so I promised to hop of the Interstate for a glass of wine and to catch up for about an hour. I’d avoided being in the city for long enough. I am a big girl, a grown up. And it was now or never. “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans / And miss her each night and day” I knew I was nearing the city when the driving became more defensive. Out of shock because of the missing rooftops and tangled trees, I’d unknowingly dropped my speed to barely 45, much to the chagrin of my fellow drivers, who flew around me with angry eyes. Yes, the angry drivers meant I was back. It wasn’t exactly same in the city. A lot of things are closed and still boarded up. But is was similar. I still missed my exit. I still turned the wrong way and had to loop back around. I still got lost. “Some people got lost in the flood / Some people got away all right” But at its core, the city still has that certain je ne sais quoi. I know this because I always get a feeling of history and wonder and culture and everything good when I am there. And as I passed familiar restaurants and shops – Rue De La Course and the Whistlestop Café, where for some reason I remember I'd eaten breakfast with my great aunt one time many, many years ago – I felt that sense of amazement creep back in. There is something brilliant and intangible about this city. It feels so old, like it has seen so much, and that if you listen it will tell you. “It’s been a real hard time, cher,” the city would say if it could speak. “But don’t cry, because darlin’ it’s gonna be alright.” It is odd to see gorgeous uptown homes spray painted on the front or on the sidewalk, marking the houses as checked for survivors or those who perished in the days after the storm. (I think.) Some are painted over, but some you still see, like a scar you can cover with make-up. But is doesn’t go away. I had Merlot at my friend’s new place. It is smaller, which is probably for the best since he didn’t save much furniture from his flooded apartment. He seemed to be doing okay. He said he misses living in a fully functional city. When I said I had to get back on the road, he said, “I want to go home, too. I wish I could go with you.” “Now, now, do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?” I teasingly quoted Louis Armstrong, pronouncing it “Or-leans” and not “Awlins,” as we often do down here. “You will be fine. You’re in New Orleans! A great city! A fabulous city! You will be fine.” And just like that, I conquered my fear of seeing a place I love in such disarray. I sighed as I left, remembering nights at bars, good dinners, walking down Canal Street at 3 a.m. in a panic because I couldn’t find my hotel. Parade-watching during Mardi Gras and that year when I was a child and I tumbled off of my parade seat atop a ladder, falling head first to the ground, on what I think was St. Charles Street. I had really wanted a doubloon from that parade and I’d leaned forward and slipped out of my father’s firm grasp. I stood up screaming, and my parents cleaned me up and I’d shaken it off. I wish I’d seen a Streetcar on Sunday, because as long as I can remember, I’ve associated the Streetcars with the city. They are in all of my romanticized memories of New Orleans. When I was little, I’d always been so scared when we drove on the cut throughs across the Streetcar lines. I’d worried the Streetcar would smash into our little van and push us into traffic, which I’m sure has actually happened more than once. And as an adult, when I saw weeks ago on the news that the Streetcars were running again, I’d cried just like a baby. Just like when I fell off that ladder into the street. But I didn’t see the Streetcar on Sunday evening, so I guess I’ll just have to go back for more visits. ‘Cause, Louis, I do know what it means to miss New Orleans. And the feeling’s getting stronger the longer I stay away.
I slid up to the bar, in between some girls with shiny hair flat-ironed within an inch of its life and tans that would have looked fake at best in July and just looked ridiculous in February. “Hey, whatcha doing here?” B asked, as he motioned to a barstool a few seats away, as I had unwittingly interrupted a “Girls Night Out” and was getting a stare down for accidentally taking an absent member’s stool. B tends bar two nights a week at this popular (if slightly cheesy) Mexican restaurant. Other days he manages. He talks a good game about opening his own bar with good beer and heavv-ish bar food, and I wish he would, instead of staying chained to someone else’s bar. “I just saw a movie with Our Friend and she was tired, so she wanted to go home. I wanted a glass of wine, made a few calls and no one wanted to really get out in this torrential downpour,” I said. “But you, you HAVE to be here.” He nodded. “White or red?” “White – do you have anything but Chardonnay?” He rolled his eyes. I ask that all of the time. And the answer is always no and that people come here for large quantities of margaritas and tequila, not wine. “Chardonnay, then,” I sighed, playfully giving him a hard time. “If it is just Chardonnay, I’ll just have the House, I suppose.” He grinned at my slight snobiness as he poured my glass. “Ah, my dear,” he said as he motioned to the bottle of cheap, mass-produced wine. “January 2006, it was a good month.” And he placed the glass before me. *** We chatted a bit while he kept an eye on the Girls Night Out at one end of the bar and a few patrons who were nursing their drinks. Though we have spoken, I don’t think I’ve actually seen him since I had a drink with him and The Other Woman. We work opposite schedules and it is simply impossible for me to go out drinking past 2 a.m. during the week and be peppy, personable and prepared at work at 7:30 a.m. He was called away by the Girls Night Out. He clearly loved the attention and these girls are they type he always thinks is so attractive. Too young, too made up, too “Ohmygawd, like, wow. Awesome.” All eyeliner and lip gloss. He took their picture for them, freshened their drinks and generally enjoyed himself. I sipped my wine and studied myself in the mirror behind the bar. My hair was pulled back in a tight, low chignon at the base of my neck, with my caramel streaks peaking through and my bangs pinned to the side. I need to schedule a color-touch up. Maybe in a few weeks. I’d scrubbed my face clean of the day’s makeup before the movie. I had applied a light dusting of powder on my face and hadn’t seen the need for more concealer or base and only a thin coat of mascara darkened my brown lashes. To complete the look, a swipe of light pink eyeshadow and a light layer of gloss, most of which was probably left on my Diet Coke at the theatre. I hooked my heels on the rungs of my barstool and just watched. B with the Girls Night Out. A group of Country Boys, also too young, who drooled over the Girls as well. B came over to wait in the Country Boys. They talked about the girls, B joked that he had the best seat in the house. And much to my amusement, the Girls left, oblivious to their admirers across the bar. “Aw, where are your girlfriends going?” I asked B teasingly. The Country Boys tried to order shots and B got to show off his knowledge of whiskey and tequilas while they picked one. They clearly were more into quantity than quality. “Um, well, there is always Southern Comfort,” B suggested half-heartedly. “SoCo?” I shuddered. “Yes. It’s a shot they’re pushing. SoCo and lime,” B said. “Ew.” One of the Country Boys interrupted. “You don’t like Southern Comfort?” he asked me. “Seriously, where are you from?” “Uh, HERE.” I said, wondering if my drawl isn’t pronounced enough because I am not from in The Sticks. “Born and raised. And I haven’t had SoCo since we used to hide a bottle at a friend’s house and mix it with Diet Coke before we went out to dances and parties in high school. When I was 18. You know, back when they dinosaurs roamed.” “Hey! It wasn’t THAT long ago,” B protested, because he is a year older than I am. *** I talked with the Barback as he stocked beers and ice bins. “How do you know B?” I leaned back and paused, tracing the edge of my wine glass with my fingertips. “You have to think?” he asked. I laughed. “A mutual friend,” I said. “A mutual friend introduced us.” “That’s typically how it goes.” “I had to think because I’ve known him for so long. You know how when you’ve known someone for five years and you’ve been friends with them and you have to think back as to how you met, because they’ve just been a fixture in this phase of your life?” “Yes, I think I do,” he said. I was working on my second glass of wine. “So, you’re just hanging out?” The Barback asked. “Yeah, my friend didn’t want to have a drink with me after we saw a movie. This is why it’s good to have a Bartender friend on a boring Friday night. Plus, the people watching is amazing.” “Yeah, you’d be surprised how many women come in here and just have a drink alone,” The Barback said. “You see a lot when you watch the people here.” He was right. In the past I’d seen first dates, worst dates, drunk women throwing themselves at men and vice versa. I feel extremely normal and well adjusted when I people watch at bars. “Well, I could have had a glass of wine at home. But why do that when I can come here? The things you see. The people and what they’re wearing and how they’re interacting.” *** I’d finished my second glass of wine. B motioned for me to join him. The place was closing down and he was taking a minute to eat dinner before the bar closed. I sat with him at a table and teased him for shoveling the food in his mouth. “Bar and restaurant food is all I eat now,” he said. “I have no food at my house right now. I am always here.” He finished and we returned to the bar. I tried to talk him into coming out for a drink with me, since he can’t drink at work. As we bantered back and forth, he being too tired and me being not tired enough, a woman and her guyfriends were arguing or conversing loudly at the end of the bar. “She’s in here all of the time,” B said. “She’s nuts.” “Good nuts or bad nuts?” “Just nuts.” They paid for their drinks and took their food to go, gathering packages of chips and boxes of enchiladas and rice. I teased B as he directed The Barback and inspected his work, making sure everything was cleaned, that the margarita machines were refilled and that the beer was restocked. “You can revolt,” I told The Barback. “You shouldn’t listen to him.” “He’s the puppetmaster. He is in charge.” I sat sideways on my stool, and rested my feet on the stool next to me, my knees bent, watching the staff close and the patrons trickle out, conversing some with B as he emptied his tip jars and traded quarters for dollars. “Well who invited you! Who invited you!” Down the bar, Nuts Woman was yelling at her friends. “Who invited you!” “No! Who invited you!” her friend yelled back, and stormed out into the rain. She was still yelling at him. “Bye B, she you later!” Nuts Woman yelled to B, who just waved and laughed, as if it was totally normal for someone to scream and carry on as she left. Apparently, in this woman’s case, it was. “And YOU,” she directed her angry gaze at me. “Bye! AND THANKS FOR THE DIRTY LOOKS! THANKS A LOT!” She stomped out and my eyes got big. I turned to B and The Barback, who were beside themselves with laughter. “Was I giving her a mean look?” I asked. “I wasn’t giving her a mean look at all. I don’t even know her!” B thought it was hysterical. “She just nuts.” “Nuts,” he repeated for emphasis. “And THAT is what you get for people watching,” said The Barback.
Just wanted to say thanks for the kind, supportive comments left on my posts lately, especially “Updates and Towel Snapping.” I try to answer as many as I can personally, but I haven’t had a chance to. Sorry. But just know that I read them all. I've been in a funk both for reasons chronicled here and others that aren't really relevant to this discussion. So, the sweetness has been good for me. And Brookie, thanks for the kind words. You're a sweetie. I don’t think of myself as “self aware.” More like “self obsessed” and “neurotic.” But who am I to ignore a compliment, right? On another note: I’ll be posting something new this afternoon (bloggin' like crazy in the 06!), adding to the "Popular posts" and (hopefully) reorganizing the blogroll this weekend into “Personal” blogs, “Single/Dating/Relationship” blogs and “Blogs o’ pretty stuff,” like purses and shoes and makeup. Feel free to contest your categorization on this post.
“I want to see ‘Match Point’ this weekend,” I announced to a girlfriend over dinner. “Do you have plans Friday?” We hashed out a day. No shopping and movie for me on Saturday as I’m going out of town that afternoon. Sunday seemed too far away. Movie Friday, drinks after. And as I started to gush, “I love Scarlett Johan …” she interrupted me. “I have such a huge girl crush on Scarlett Johnansson!” she spit out enthusiastically. “Do you have a girl crush on Scarlett Johansson?” “Yes!” I sipped my wine and leaned over. “She is just great and I love her. And she is beautiful. I think she is just breathtaking.” “I know! I agree. And truth be told, I haven’t had a major girl crush since Kate Winslet,” my girlfriend confessed. “I mean, not that I don’t think Kate Winslet isn’t still really beautiful.” “She is very beautiful as well,” I said. “But I only have eyes for ScarJo.” “You call her ScarJo?” “Yes, yes, I do call her ScarJo. And I even buy magazines where she is on the cover. Like that one recently where she was in the purple and she looked so terrible on the cover and so great inside.” “Elle,” said my friend. “It was Elle. I bought it too. I love that she curses and says ‘F-ck’ a lot, but still seems intelligent. And her voice.” “Yes, husky, but sexy.” “More raspy than husky.” “Right,” I said. “And she is fabulous and curvy and she isn’t only four pounds.” “Yes! She certainly is beautiful and she has a very natural figure with some curves and she isn’t emaciated!” “Well, I did sort of have a thing for Lindsay Lohan,” I confessed. “Not a crush, just a mild obsession in that, ‘She is such a train wreck’ sort of way. And her crazy stupid publicist coming up with these explanations for things. Like, ‘Lindsay slipped while holding a teacup going upstairs in Bryan Adams house and cut her leg all up!’ I mean, whatever.” “Yeah, she is ridiculous. But I do like how ridiculous she is.” “Right, like getting a tattoo on her wrist that says ‘Breathe’ to remind her of her recent asthma attack,” I said. “I had an asthma attack recently and you don’t see me going to put ‘Breathe’ on my wrist! I mean, the Singulair and the inhaler are reminder enough.” “She did not! What’s the other wrist going to say?” my friend asked. “Eat?” We cracked up. “I read the big interview with Lindsay in like Vanity Fair or GQ or whatever,” my friend said. “The one where she was like, ‘Yeah, I do drugs and have an eating disorder? So?’” I asked. “That’s the one. And she just ended it in such a typical Lindsay Lohan fashion. She was saying that she was growing tired of people asking her if she was okay. And she said, ‘Damn right I’m ok, motherf-ckers,’ or something like that.” I thought for a second. “Is there really anything else but that to say?” And we just laughed.
So, I got an e-mail from The Producer. Short and sweet, “I had a lot of fun on Friday, but I was really worn out all day Saturday. Call me! We should do it again.” Not exactly the dirt-dishing I was hoping for at all. AT ALL. I was hoping to get some sign from the Super Bowl party. Like, “Hey, The Engineer kept going on and on about you, but then he was rendered speechless by an infection brought on by an allergy to the cheese on the nachos. As they were wheeling him away, he blinked out your name in Morse code before losing consciousness. We hear the doctors expect him to be out of his coma by Friday night, so we made reservations for you two at 8 p.m. He’ll pick you up at 7:30 for a fantastic dinner. Does that work for you?” Sadly, no. So I sent her another short e-mail saying I’d call her and talking about how worn out I was all day Saturday from staying out too late on Friday. Then later, Best Friend Ever called to say that she would be in town next month. (Haven’t seen her in ages! Like maybe a year!) I gave her the dirt on Friday night (which she had received via voicemail and text message several times throughout the weekend) and after hearing my version of the night, she said, “So, has he called?” I told her no. And she kind of giggled and said, “Sorry babe. But I told you so.” (And told me so she did, even as I was en route to “one more glass of wine.”) And then she said, “Asshole.” And we both devolved into laughter because I could never be mad at her. She’s one of the few people who can tell me so without me flipping out. I gave her the more randy details of the night, we had some rather non-PG talk about the incident and these sorts of things in general. After this round of talking ended in laughter, I sighed. “I liked this one,” I said. “He seemed different. Not slimy.” “I know you did, babe. I know. Call me if he calls.” I think I’m so bothered by this whole noncalling situation because I’ve grown up. And what you do at 21 feels a lot different when you do it at 26. I’ve mellowed out considerably in recent years and I don’t have the desire to go back to drinking four to five to six nights a week and eating copious amounts of pizza and Jack and the Box or Taco Bell at 3 a.m. I’m a dreamer. A hopeless romantic. I am a cynic in many ways, but for some reason when it comes to dating I still have this really cheesy, idealistic side that keeps me from joining the convent or just plain swearing off men altogether. I’ve been heartbroken and I’ve not been called many times before. Notches on the bedpost. Check. Unrequited love. Check. As I said to Neil in a comment on a previous post, I am so hopeful because after two glasses of wine a boy with a nice smile is the kryptonite to my time-hardened demeanor. The cynic in me melts away and I really forget the lessons learned and the mistakes made. And it doesn’t matter to whom the nice smile is attached sometimes. It’s not that I’m freaking out over a guy I spent 14 hours with. It’s just my neediness and a loneliness that is so palpable right now. I want to be with someone. I want to not have to worry about dates for weddings and I want to cuddle up with someone on chilly nights with mugs of warmth and dangerously cold toes tickling up and down my legs while hot breath whispers into my ear and big hands pull my body into the crook of his form. I want to hear, “Yes, Honey” in a playfully sarcastic tone when I’m nagging, like my friend’s husband said to her while they set out the food on Super Bowl Sunday. She just grinned. I want to feel a towel snap against my legs when I am cooking, like the way my Dad teases my Mom in the evenings when they cook dinner and they don’t think anyone else is looking to see them, so he snaps her with a towel and they flirt like teenagers. And my Mom pretends to be annoyed with my Dad, but really she’s just getting ready to put an ice cube down his shirt or do something else silly because 30 years into their marriage they’re still nutso crazy about each other. And I want to have a cheesy ritual like how my Mom calls my Dad “George” (and he calls her Laura) when he brings her coffee in the morning, because Laura Bush said on Oprah one time that Dubya makes the coffee in the morning and always brings her a cup. (I secretly think they do this as a funny little way to torture the more liberal-minded members of the household, but it IS still pretty damn cute.) No one in my large extended family has ever been divorced. Long marriages and big families surround me. Not every moment has been happy and joy-filled, I am sure. But even my grandparents, who have been married for more than 50 years and argue like old people who’ve spent the last 50 some-odd years and raised five girls together have their moments. When I scolded them for being so short with each other one day, pointing out playfully that they should "pretend to still like each other," my grandfather let a grin spread across his face and said, “It has been 50 years. And the honeymoon is OVER!” and then they just laughed and laughed and gave each other this Look. And so this is what colors my experience. These silly little things that I know people cherish more than wedding rings and anniversary dinners. Just the underbelly of love and relationships. The day-to-day minutia that gets lost in grand gestures, but serves as a constant reminder that, “Hey, I dig you. And we’re in this together, OK?” And the possibility of this is what makes me swoon over a Nice Smile and Bright Eyes when they’re turned on me. This hope not for the fairytale, but for the towel-snapping. So, depending on my mood, temperament and the way the wind is blowing, a nice smile over a glass of wine will get me every time. And all I can do is hope that one day the nice smile is attached to a guy who is willing to go past the crap of dating rules, regulations and standards and just be a normal human being with me.