Are you still awake?


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by jenny downing

Last night, as I wobbled like a Weeble Wobble to the kitchen, the phone rang.

Glancing at the clock, I realized it was a little after midnight.

I had barely croaked a hoarse “hello” when screeches at inhuman decibels hit my ears.

“Are you awake? Tell me you’re awake cause nowadays with you, I never know. Bears in hibernation sleep less than you, Bella. Anyway, pull up a chair. This is going to take a while.”

Carefully replacing the moka pot in the cabinet, I reached for the leftover dinner wine. Something told me coffee wasn’t going to cut if for tonight’s tête-à-tête.

“Do you remember Diane, the woman who’s married to Henry, my next door neighbor’s son? You know, the one who was fat as a house? And notice how I say was and not is. I saw her this morning and I didn’t recognize her. The woman is 200 pounds thinner!”

I slowly inhaled what was left of the dinner wine’s bouquet.

“Turns out she had gastric bypass surgery. She tells me she’s been sick as a dog for the past three months but with all the weight she lost, who cares? And if the weight loss wasn’t enough, the bitch went and got a tummy tuck to get rid of the leftover skin. A tummy tuck! Do you know how long you and I have dreamed of getting one of those babies? But have we? No. And why not? Cause all of our money goes into paying for these kids’ education, that’s why!”

I took a long sip and let my head roll back.

“And for what, Bella? For what? Your kid still is still a work in progress and my two have been working toward a Bachelor’s Degree for the past six years. What a waste of money! We could have spent that cash in getting our stomachs stapled. And with what we’ve spent on books and other incidentals, we would have had enough for a tummy tuck, liposuction in our jaw, an eye lift, and four Botox treatments!”

I turned my neck to the side and heard it crack loudly.

“We would be skinny minnies shopping for bikinis at Target. In size 0! No more being on the defensive and saying 0 is not a size, because it would be our size! We’d be a double 00, you and I! No more fat pants, tunics, or those nasty sweatpants you’re so prone to wearing. We’d be sporting skinny jeans, mini skirts, and thigh high boots! We’d be a force to be reckoned with. We’d look younger, taller, and skinny! S-K-I-N-N-Y!”

I took another sip of wine and wobbled back to the kitchen.

“If we had better invested our money, you wouldn’t have knee troubles from being overweight and I wouldn’t have a double chin I have to hide with scarves in the summer and turtlenecks in the winter. We’d teeter on high heels, buy skinny lattes at Starbucks, and count calories using an app. Instead, those universities where our kids say they go to study are sucking what’s left of our meager savings dry. At this point, we’ll be lucky if we avoid living out the rest of our days in one of those nursing homes where they beat the elderly and starve them to death!”

I slowly moved the items in the kitchen cabinet, searching for a box of Carr’s crackers.

“Mom is right, you know. We’re a pair of enablers. Not only have those kids taken all our money, they’ve also done away with our taut stomachs, firm boobs, and perky derrieres. I never recovered from that 13 stitch episiotomy, you know. I go one day without consuming fiber and all hell breaks loose. You can hear my screams in the next county. And you, don’t get me started on how your desire to breastfeed left your girls, Thelma and Louise! One more month of breastfeeding the Son, and you’d be dragging them on the floor!

I rummaged in the refrigerator and searched for the brie.

“I wish I hadn’t seen that woman today. She’s the reason for this rant. Her and her new flat stomach. She used to weigh more than I did, you know. It makes me want to cry. When I think of the money we’ve wasted on useless pursuits, I want to scream! Where did we go wrong? We made bad choices, plain and simple. I should never have gone to the club that night and met you know who and you should have joined the Peace Corps like you wanted to. Who knows, you might now be married to a doctor and I wouldn’t have to wait until they put the granny pants on clearance at Target.”

Not having found the brie, I made do with the remains of what I hoped was Cheez Whiz.

“We were destined for glory, you and I. Remember how I was in the top ten percentile in college? You spoke French like a native. Dear Lord, now look at us. I bet you’re drinking stale wine and spreading something moldy on a cracker, aren’t you?”

I tried to chew the saltine I had just spread with some sort of mystery cheese without making noise.

“It’s too late to do anything about it now. Our lives suck. This is our reality and we have to deal with it. You and I. We’re in this crap hole together. No one’s digging us out. We’re going to be stuck in here till we die. Or till they send a pair of burly orderlies from the nursing home where our kids are sticking us. Because that’s what awaits us down the line, sister. Me, a woman who should have been dressed in Prada, wearing a straight jacket and you, a woman who was going to write a best seller, singing ‘Old McDonald had a farm’. Dear God, why do you hate us so?”

I took a final sip of wine and placed the wine goblet on the kitchen counter.

“The sound of an empty wine goblet scratching the surface of your old kitchen counter. My cue to put the soap box back in the corner.”

Smiling, I answered, “Yep. Do you feel better?”

“Maybe a tad. Same time next week?”

“Absolutely.”

Click.

Who do you call when you need to vent?

Pulling myself up by my piggy house slippers

piggy house slippers

Dear friends,
First of all, I wanted to apologize for my absence. For the past week and a half, I’ve been battling bronchitis. Many sleepless nights have ensued and I’m afraid it’s time to admit that it has whipped my derriere. Breathing has become so difficult, I’m using an asthma inhaler even though I’m not asthmatic.

But not to fear, friends.
I’m beat but not broken.

(Although something tells me that the surgical mask wearers the Son and the Significant Other would say otherwise.)

Tonight, feeling like I can finally breathe a little better, I decided it was time to pull myself up by the bootstraps, actually, by my piggy house slippers, and tell all of you how much I’ve missed you.

Please forgive my absence to your blogs.
I hope to be get better soon and look forward to reading all your posts.

I also want to express my gratitude to all who have emailed and sent Twitter messages asking how I am. Please know that you are lovely, lovely, lovely and I am very appreciative for your concern.

And now I want to leave you with a post I wrote before bronchitis snared me in its clutches.

It’s been two weeks since then but I think you will still enjoy it.

I’ll be back as soon as I can take a full breath.
Until then, enjoy!

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I find it ironic that someone who loves technology and gadgets as much as I do, can’t afford to have any.

I feel cheated.

Wanting.

And let’s face it, in a time where people can instantly post from their cell phones to the net and post photos using cutesy apps like Instagram, I feel deprived.

Yet, not one to cry over what I don’t have (though I find complaining to be the perfect way to channel my frustration), I decided to take matters into my own hands.

The photos you are about to peruse are not “sent from my iPhone.”

Heck, they’re not even sent.
I had to upload them with a USB cable.

Nevertheless, when life gives you lemons, you make a lemon pound cake.

Or a lemon meringue pie.

Or a lemon granita.

You get the picture.

Speaking of pictures…

These sightings took place in the spell of four days.

During this time, we went from cold, to colder, to snow.

All photos taken with my barely alive but still kicking Nokia.

Image0131

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I love the charm of this cafe.

I love the charm of this cafe.

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Yes, yes I do!

Yes, yes I do!

Stunning Roxy!

Stunning Roxy!

Wild parrots

Wild parrots

Why yes, there's a swan in the canal, Roxy!

Why yes, there’s a swan in the canal, Roxy!

Thoughts, anyone?

Because this is the only place Barbie needs to be!

Snow day!

Snow day!

European snowmen. You gotta love them!

European snowmen. You gotta love them!

Which is your favorite?

XOXO,

Peekaboo. Do I see you?


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Crazy George

The aging process.

Some of us dread it.
Some of us embrace it.
And some of us are unsure if it’s a good thing or not.

Nevertheless, it’s like death–there’s no avoiding it.

The aging process.

We want to believe that when it arrives, we’ll be ready.

Until the day we spot it.
Laying there.
Unmoving.
Trying to camouflage itself, yet failing miserably.

One gray hair.

Not an army, mind you.
Just one.
That’s all it takes before we go into full panic mode.

We start to question where time has gone.
We calculate how many days before our next birthday.
We pull out a magnifying glass and search every square inch of our face.

One gray hair.

Its discovery unleashes the monster.
Opens Pandora’s box.
Sends us on a downward spiral.

We look up “old” friends on Facebook to see if they look younger.
We cross our fingers, say a prayer, and try to strike a deal with the powers that be so they may look older.
A lot older.

We buy expensive face creams.
Hoping they’ll do away with the effects of time.
That they’ll do away with the crow’s feet.

We question whose idea it was to call them crow’s feet.
We curse whoever it was and wish we could turn back the clock.

To reverse the all-nighters.
The late night partying.
The one drink too many the night we celebrated whatever it was we were celebrating.

We look in the mirror.
We realize that while we’re losing the hair on our head, we’ve started to grow a mustache.

We place a pencil under a breast to see if it’s still perky.
We realize we can easily fit a box of twelve.

We become aware that our gums are receding.
That our joints hurt.
That our ass is sagging.
That it’s only a matter of time before someone tell us we’re more wrinkled than an elephant’s scrotum.

We notice our fingernails have stopped growing but our toenails keep growing.
That we can’t bend down to trim.
Or shave our legs.
We find it easier to let everything below our waist grow until it can grow no more.

We realize that movie stars our age are cast in the role of grandmothers.
Or great-grandmothers.
Or great-great-grandmothers.

We wake up to the fact that we have trouble getting up after sitting for too long.
That we can’t cross our legs without a muscle spasm.
That we easily lose our balance.

We forget the neighbor’s name
We confuse our children’s names.
We realize there are days we can’t remember our own names.

We realize that if we were to answer people truthfully when they asked how we are, we’d have to utter the word “constipated.”

We lose the ability to lose weight.
We’re too tired to exercise.
We become indifferent to the state the house is in.
We stop buying lingerie and start to think granny panties have gotten a bad rap.

One gray hair.

That’s all it takes before our world falls apart.
Before we realize that youth is slipping from our fingers.
Never to be recovered.
CPR’d back to life.
No need to get the paddles and shout, “Clear!”

Middle age has found us.
There’s nowhere to hide.

Do we embrace it or pretend we don’t see it?

One gray hair.

For today, I’ll color it and happily stay in a state of denial.
I never saw it.
It was never there.

Are you ready to embrace middle age?

Is elegance innate?


cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by Helga Weber

From across the street, I watched her.

Her red pashmina had caught my attention the moment she had stepped out of the car.

I looked on as she expertly drew the pashmina around her shoulders, transforming it into a stole.

She looked so elegant.
So sophisticated.

Just then, almost as if the universe took delight in mocking me, another beautiful woman waited for a car to pass before swiftly crossing the street.

Dressed in a beautiful black knee-length coat, with a pearl-colored scarf delicately wrapped around her neck, she resembled a graceful gazelle.

I couldn’t help noticing how the ends of her scarf floated behind her like wings.

As I slowly made my way home, I wondered how some women have the ability of making elegance seem so effortless.

Convinced that they were born with a special gene, I sought comfort in the fact they were but a lucky few.

Nevertheless, I sighed as I thought how wonderful it would be to have that look.

That look of “je ne se quois.”

That look of sophistication that says, I am beautiful and I know it.

These thoughts put me at war with my belief that all women are beautiful.

Yet a part of me conceded that while it was true that we were all beautiful, this didn’t necessarily mean that we all had the ability to exude elegance.

Determined to put this theory to the test, I called out to the Significant Other to bring down the basket where I store my scarves.

Bewildered, he looked on as I hurriedly threw scarf after scarf on the sofa until I found the one I was looking for.

Holding it up, I noticed how it sparkled against the beam of light that emanated from the reading lamp.

I smiled as I remembered my mother’s words the day she gave it to me.

“Here you go, Bella. So you can feel pretty and warm.”

I carefully wrapped it around my shoulders, trying to mimic the movements of the woman I had seen on the street earlier.

My breath caught as I spied my reflection in the glass.

There, standing in front of the Significant Other and Roxy I stood– looking like a badly wrapped burrito.

“Dare I ask what you’re doing?” I heard the Significant Other ask.

My sharp look and pursed lips indicated that this was not a good time.

Convinced it was my lack of expertise in arranging the pashmina just so, I pulled out another scarf.

This time, a luxurious cashmere little number I had bought back in the day when I didn’t have to worry about college tuitions bleeding me dry.

Twice around the neck, and voila!

I turned once again to look at my reflection.

This time it looked like I was wearing a high end neck brace.

At that point, I jammed all the scarves in the basket and instructed the Significant Other to take them away, no questions asked.

As I poured myself a cup of coffee, I thought that perhaps the look of sophistication was learned and not innate.

Perhaps these women attended a special “elegance learning” school where they were instructed in the fine art of tying scarves, faking the look of a stole, and walking in a way that prompted their scarves to come to life.

Or perhaps they all looked like badly wrapped burritos and it was my ID who was romanticizing their appearance and making them appear like unstoppable goddesses.

Calling out to the Significant Other, I stopped him midway up the stairs.

Reaching into the basket, I pulled out the pashmina.

“Don’t ask,” I hissed as I walked back to my room.

Opening the small cabinet door, I carefully placed it on top of the clothes already stored there.

It was irresponsible of me to conclude that my theory was right or wrong.

I would have to put it to the test once more.

Tomorrow.

I would try again tomorrow.

Do you think elegance is learned or something a person is born with?