Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oooh Baby! Gimme some good hot . . . chicken wings

The March 2007 issue of The Atlantic magazine carries a review of a book by Joan Sewell entitled I'd Rather Eat Chocolate. The review's author, Sandra Tsing Loh is funny. VERY funny as she raises questions about why women more and more are seeming to lack the desire to have sex with their loving, sexy partners.

I could answer that with one hand tied behind my back and duct tape over my mouth.

We are tired, guys.

We are tired of having to be perfect. We are tired of having to be sexy when in fact we are sexy, all by ourselves, and without thongs, any of Vicky's secrets, and Cosmo et al telling us how we can please our men even better than we ever have before. [Hey buddy, if that last bj wasn't good enough, how'd you like to have a heart attack next time? Yeah. I thought so.]

And we are tired for a bigger reason: We give at the office. And we give at home. I have a friend who has three boys. The youngest is about to get his driver's license. THANK GOD. You know what it's like for a woman who has three boys who are all into sports? Especially since sports events can occur any day of the week or weekend. When I was in high school, they had an 'activity bus.' You stayed after, you took a later bus home. Period. Now, mom has to pick up and wait and bring home. And lessons, and clubs and other student-resume-building activities. Yikes!

And how many women work and come home to kids who have to be fed, have their homework supervised, computer and TV viewing overseen and be cajoled and yelled at to get them to bed before midnight? And put away that damn cellphone at the table! And do NOT text while I'm talking to you! Did you have a good day, honey? Could you please get Josh to turn the music down?

Picture one of these women coming home from work, kicking off the work shoes, peeling down and stepping out of the pantyhose, slipping on sweats, and sitting down to a delicious and healthy meal prepared by someone else -- then retiring to the living room and falling asleep watching TV. Can't picture it?

That's one piece of modern life -- our kids have more complicated lives, their world requires more supervision [it's more dangerous], and the stakes for their success [with more competition for college] are higher. You can't ease off and coast.

But a bigger piece for younger people who don't even have kids yet? There is a tremendous pressure to work harder than ever before -- and there is a lot more drinking and recreational drug use [and prescription drugs for stress and depression]. And with a larger percentage of women in the work world than ever before, more women are having the same stress as men traditionally have had -- with no-one to come home to who will share the burden.

Two things have not changed: Men still feel responsible for paying for the family they eventually want to have -- and women feel the utter necessity of looking as young and beautiful as they possibly can -- no matter how hard they have to work to meet their other goals and dreams. It is nice to want to have it all -- to have the option of having it all -- family, career, secure financial future. But something has to give. There isn't always energy for it all.

Contrast all this with what a women needs to have good sex regularly: You need time. You need not to be interrupted, you need to slow down and enjoy the process. And you need energy. The kind of energy that comes from the inside of a woman; that slow, easy, relaxed, seductive energy. The kind of energy very few of us have these days because we are so utterly preoccupied with moving and doing faster and faster. And frankly, there is some resentment: You want me to be successful in my career, look really hot, be sexy and fit, nurture you -- and you just get to focus on your career and earning money and drop in for a little nookie when you need to? Uh Uh. Nope. I'd rather have a box of mallomars.

And with women feeling more pressure, the guy better produce when they do hook up. No more slam-bam-thank-you-sweetheart-uh-what's your-name. Why bother? His performance better include her. Add the threat of STD's, and you wonder how the next generation is going to produce any kids.

Food is sensual. It's a reward. It does not require conversation and it does not judge. And people are so damned hungry. And tired. The pace of life these days, combined with the complexity is utterly depleting sometimes. When you feel really depleted and tired, what feels the best, what feels like it will feed you deeply -- and so you crave it -- is food. Add a good movie to that and you are in heaven. A heaven that envelopes you, lulls you, relaxes you and is yours alone.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I’m a Woman; I can change my mind

Ok, yeah, I know I wrote almost, uh, lovingly, about snow the other day. At best, I was using it as a device to show how we all need to stop once in a while. But this morning, staring out at the relentlessly white hard-pack coating the ground, watching small birds desperately try to find food, the thrill is gone, the dream is over, and I want this frozen sludge to melt.

The problem is one of color: There isn’t any. Miami isn’t intoxicating because of the weather. [Who needs to sweat all the time?] It’s the color. Blue sky [Ok, we have that here] white sand [a creamy, soft white] 27 kinds of Pink houses, orange roofs, green in every shade and shape imaginable, turquoise water! Turquoise! Flowers!

Frankly, it could be 30 degrees, but with all that color, I’d be warm.

Here we have brown, black, white and grey.
Rocks. Big ones: grey.
Trees: brown, grey.
Snow: white, grey
Dead garden: brown, some ochre
Evergreens: Green – DARK
Moss on dead trees: radioactive supporating green

I’m trying to see it as, well, serene, restful, calming, but all I’m coming up with is dull, depressing, and monotonous. And I’m reminded that the bare bones of my landscaping leaves a lot to be desired. I did try to grow cornus one year. They are those bushes that lose their leaves, but the stems are red. Unfortunately, the deer read them as lettuce. Now I have a fence, but am traumatized.

Here’s one other thing about icy snow: Those stolid maniacs who operate the giant plows: They love to plow the driveway shut. Of course, their faces don’t change expression, but I know deep down, this is why they come to work when it snows.

My neighbor’s house is yellow. Big deal. It’s not a yellow I like and it’s surrounded by those other colors. One year, in preparation for painting our house barn red, we mixed some of the red into the white primer. We did not get a nice pink, however. What we got was a cross between dark mauve and darker flamingo pink.

Although we tried, we could not get the house painted, only primed, before the weather turned cold. So, all winter our house remained that color. I can’t tell you. People stopped their cars. Some joggers/walkers/sightseers tried to be nice: “It’s an interesting color.” I hastily answered: “It’s just the primer.” People in general are not good actors. Or maybe they thought the relief they showed was supposed to make us feel good. There was a small part of me that wanted to leave the house that color just to try their patience, but nausea won out.

I’m not enough of a Calvinist to take much comfort in the idea that all this stuff makes the Spring that much more enjoyable. I could live in a more colorful climate and never take it for granted. Really.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Let it SNOW, hold the ice, please

People around here were really tired last week. Me, too. Oddly tired. I began to think it was the cold. It's hard to fight that bitter cold, day in day out, no respite. And we certainly weren't used to it. January 6th is my partner's birthday. One year, in order to have a party, we had to have tons of gravel delivered to coat the driveway, just so people could get to the house without doing headers. The ice was so pernicious. Thick and frozen and ugly. Other years, we postponed: snow.

This year, he and his best friend took a long walk in shorts and T's.

But even though most of us indulged in a little spring fever, confusing though it was, if you grew up in the northeast, or at least have lived here long enough, you become accustomed to the concept of a winter break of a day or two, forced to slow down and stay home, during a work week. Because Mother Nature gave us all a snow day.

And snow days are yin to their cold little toes. There is nothing any of us can do to override snow, SUV's and Subaru's to the contrary. At some point we have to say "The hell with it, I'm not even going to try to get out." And we settle in, enjoying the quiet that a nice snowfall brings, muting the sounds, culling the traffic herd down to a few cautious individuals. If we do manage to get out, we stay local, and don't try to do too much. We can't: no-one is around, and some places are just closed.

I, personally, was very disappointed this morning when I saw pachysandra the minute I opened my eyes. The stuff is a great ground cover, thick as kudzu, and it takes some snow to cover it. It’s outside my bedroom window and the person who sleeps next to me will sweat bullets if the window isn’t open at least fifteen inches. Seeing that green was like waking on Christmas morning and finding no presents under the tree.

The entire programming of one whole channel on TV is devoted to the weather. There is DOPPLER RADAR which can find aliens billions of light years out. These meteorologist types actually have advanced degrees. And then there’s the Farmer’s Almanac. But it’s empty promises, all of it. I am dreadfully disappointed in the lot of them. Because I needed a snow day. A lot of us did.

Instead, we got ICE. Ice is danger without the bulk. It's insidious. It hides its real menace. You can actually see the road sometimes, black and shiny. Oh, it's just wet, you think; until your brand new, aggressively treaded, expensive all-weather radials on your all-wheel drive vehicle fail to hold a curve at 11 miles an hour and you end up somewhere else than you intended. And ice isn't an actual physical obstruction like snow.

Snow has to be moved. That takes time. You get to have biscuits for breakfast, and a second cup of coffee. You get to feel like a child, bundled up, venturing out into the exciting world of a snowfall. You get to wave to other people, similarly occupied. You get to fall and laugh instead of wondering if you can reach your cell phone. "I'm snowed in," you say regretfully on the phone. You hang up and smile. "I'm SNOWED IN!" you say to yourself.

We need the respite of a snow day now and again. Life at this moment in time is just too damned fast, too pressured. Every one of us has a 'list.' These are the things we [think] we have to do. When they make a post-it as long as a roll of toilet paper, I'll have enough space for my list. Most of us make mental lists in addition to the stuff we write down. The "I'll eventually get to . . . " list. Just the existence of these lists puts pressure on us. We can't not be doing something all the time. But if you can't do anything, and it's out of your hands? You get a guilt-free mini-vacation for as long as it takes to get the streets cleared and the car dug out. And of course, you have to wait for it to stop snowing to do that.

So that's why, when it starts snowing, and the forecast is for more snow than can be removed immediately, many of us take a deep breath and sigh, enjoy the delicate crinkly sound it makes when it falls, smile at the utter beauty, let the car get buried and just plain relax.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Real Beauty and the Beast of Advertising

I get my nails done every week. On the table where we all sit to have them dry are a half-dozen magazines. Every magazine has a beautiful, young, glamorous woman on the cover. Inside are dozens of such women, selling anything you can imagine, body parts displayed, long legs, perfect skin and hair and nails, looking like they are enjoying a really fun life. Even the ‘serious’ articles invariably feature a very attractive celebrity whose problems are dramatically highlighted, as are the solutions and the outcome.

Go to any supermarket to pick up paper towels and there are very young, glamorous women wearing low cut somethings or other with perfect, bulging breasts on every magazine, and all kinds of packaging. You see this nearly every day. And you can get this message: A person like me doesn’t matter. Because my breasts aren’t perfect and I’m not 23 anymore.

When I was young, I was more than attractive. I had a great body. Even a sexy body. But the images of these perfect woman mocked me even then. Know what they were saying?

“No matter what you do, you will never look like us. You will never be perfect. Men want perfection. We represent the pinnacle of femininity which you will never reach.”

And they looked so smug, so pleased with themselves. So utterly proud and happy and disdainful. Imagine being perfect. Doors would open. You had only to ask and you would receive. You could have any man you wanted. Right?

Never mind that almost to a person, they starved. They worried about every blemish, every minuscule line, any sign of aging. Ignore the real fact that their photographs were doctored to remove any sign they were human, and, GASP! Imperfect. (Could it be possible that they, too, struggled to live up to their own photos?)

And, do not pay attention to the fact that they are used to sell things. Cosmetics and clothing to be sure, but, oh, so much more: Magazines, cars, appliances, adult toys of all kinds, ideas, services, to name a few. The fact is, if you want to sell something, anything, put a couple of breasts on the front of it and make sure their owner is young and wearing glossy lipstick.

Now we have TV shows which are invading the home in a sneaky, nasty little way: Housewives now must be sexy and beautiful, and – wait for it – PERFECT.

Gotta clean the bathroom.

But first: lipgloss and some blush. Hair swept back and smoothly styled. Clothes sexy and revealing [note to self: underwire/pushup] a dab of perfume, maybe some concealer [up late doing laundry . . .sshhhh, do NOT advertise that fact]. Thick rubber gloves to protect my jewelry, carefully covering the bracelet – those stones, you know . . . WAIT! Do not go into that bathroom without checking the eyebrows! Quick! 5X mirror and some tweezers please! Whew! 7 hairs later and I’m ready!

In real life, no-one is perfect. When we think or speak, our faces reflect what is going on inside. Our eyes light up, our muscles move, we communicate with our bodies. We attract people based on how and what we communicate in a complex and mesmerizing multi-level dynamic. And each of us is unique, and so is what we each have to offer.

Yes: Highlighting our best features intensifies the communication. But less is more. Colors that look good on us. Clean, neat clothing. A hairstyle that flatters. And a deep, certain knowledge that who we are only begins with the face and body. Real beauty in a human being is always going to be on the inside: What we think, and feel and what we do. Cosmetic changes may make us feel good, but what makes the other people in our lives feel good is when we let them see who we are. And when they love us for who we are, that’s the best thing in the world.


Writing: journals, letters, working on my books, fiction, funny stuff
Reading in a quiet clean house with fresh flowers all around, soft spacey music in the background
Dancing (old R&B, funky-sexy hip hop, ass-shaking rock’n’roll, Buddha Bar)
Watercolor painting with a zillion colors and pretty designs
Landscaping and planning gardens (not weeding)
Watching the birds and animals and my cats
Hanging out with my kid, my partner, my sisters and brothers and laughing a lot
Road trips and exploring with my partner
Really good, deep conversation that has few boundaries and lets me ask questions
Having a couple of drinks with close women friends and getting raunchy and laughing a lot
Occasionally planning and making an entire really incredible meal from scratch and then sharing it with those who are close to me
Anything involving a beauty salon and hair, skin or nails
Interviewing interesting people and finding out where they came from and what they’re about
Having dreams that tell me things I didn’t know
High-heeled, open-toed, soft leather shoes with bows and straps in pretty colors