Monthly Archives: August 2010

Nudie.

If you ever find yourself at a clothing-optional event, particularly one where you are going into a sauna, and you decide to go along with it, here are some tips you may want to jot down. Don’t put them in your pocket though because really, once you take your clothes off, having them in your pocket will cease to be useful to you. So jot them down and memorize them. You can thank me later.

1. Don’t be shy about undressing. If you are going to go for it, do it with relish. No one gives a shit.

2. Don’t undress as if you are in a porno. While no one gives a shit, they may start to if you twirl your shirt in the air or point your toes as you slowly slide your pants off, one leg at a time.

3. Don’t dress up. Seriously. You will look like an idiot. Okay, maybe some people give a shit.

4. Bring a hand towel to sit on once you are in the sauna (if indeed it is a sweat). You’ll see why soon.

5. Do not. I repeat, DO NOT spit your nasty phlegm in an area where people sit.

6. Don’t forget that hand towel!

7. Don’t blow your nose in your hand and then wipe it on yourself.

8. Don’t blow your nose on your hand and then shake the snot off around people.

9. Don’t blow your nose on your hand and then wipe it off where people sit.

10. Never, ever, EVER purposefully watch someone of the opposite sex undress.

It would be a gross understatement to say that I have struggled with self esteem throughout my life. Body image issues plague most women (and yes, many men as well, but I am not a man and they don’t talk to me the way most women do, so back off) and it can follow us through our lives. I’ve worked through a lot of that and for the most part, I think that I am perfect just the way I am, but I still have moments where I want Rhinoplasty and a tummy tuck. I was in the throes of this when I met Thor. It didn’t help that I had bacne so bad that a friend once gently said to me, “Um, you may want to start drinking more water.” It is also possible that I should have been wearing a bra and deodorant more often.  Not to mention the fact that I thought I was gigantic and dressed in clothing that was two sizes too big for me. In general, my self esteem and body image were in dire need of Thor.

Welcome back, Thor! (If you are just joining me, please read this post first.)

I am pretty sure that few men read my blog. For the ones that do, try not to perv out on me here. Y’all were born naked, in case you didn’t know and really, if you tried it, you would like nudity too. Here’s an idea! Go get naked. Yes. Right now. I’ll wait. Now read the rest of the blog naked and see how much you like it. Just don’t forget to put a towel down.

Thor was a worshipper of both women and men. He saw no gender, size, or color boundary. It was an adjustment for me to be around, as I was still quite young (22?) and naïve, but I was so wide eyed with him that I mostly just observed, retained, and then tried to act just like him. Thor would walk up to people he had never met before just to tell them that they were beautiful, or that they had beautiful eyes, hair, skin—whatever. He said it without sounding creepy because he genuinely meant it. Now, don’t think that he was going up to every single person that he saw—he wasn’t an idiot, he was just totally authentic. It was how I first met him, really. He gave me a compliment when he first  spoke to me, and I needed it so badly that I lived off that one compliment for weeks.

Once we began dating, Thor took me to Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe, a beautiful spa in the mountains with two communal baths—basically, a sauna, hot tub, and cold pool. One was co-ed and the other for women only. Both were clothing-optional. (I went to the area that was just for women once I was more comfortable with the idea in general, but women talk too much about dumb shit and it drove me crazy.)

I’m sure that we chatted on the drive up the mountain but I don’t think we spoke of anything specific to what we were about to do. That wasn’t his way (he was all about the raw experience), so I trust my memory here. Once we were there, he told me to get changed—meaning take off my clothes and put on the spa-supplied robe—and meet him at the co-ed bath. As soon as I went into the changing room, I began to realize that once my robe came off in the bath, I would be naked in front of people. I had absolutely no preparation for this moment, and I was paralyzed (so paralyzed that now, years later, when I think of it, I can conjure up the emotion of that moment perfectly). Thor expected me to meet him in only a few minutes, but instead, I put on my robe and sat down in the courtyard, trying desperately to look casual and not freaked out of my fucking mind. Please, trust me when I say that I was freaked out of my mind. I sat there for an hour and a half while Thor had me paged. And paged, and paged, and paged.

I can’t remember if he came and got me or if I just talked myself into going up to the community area, but I eventually did. I. Was. Petrified. He never knew how petrified I was, because it was important to me that he think I was cool. Straight up. (Ah, youth.)

What I realized that first day, once my robe came off, is that no one gave a shit about me or what I looked like. No one was paying attention because, really, in life, no one is thinking about me or you, really. I don’t mean that in a hurtful way. It’s just that, the things you think people are thinking about you? They aren’t. If anything, they are thinking about their own fear of judgment, their own insecurities, their own list of errands to run . . . anything but, “Oh my god! Look at her third nipple!” Jesus. (No! I do not have a third nipple.) I went into the sauna, and everyone had their eyes shut. Most were meditating, some were chanting, others were just relaxing. It was life changing for me. From that moment forward, I have experienced my body differently. I went from feeling shame and a deep sense of imperfectness to feeling human and beautiful. The biggest and only judge in my life was myself, and in that moment, I started to put that judge to rest.

We ended up going there every day for the entire time we lived in the storage unit. When we moved to Tucson, I went right to work trying to find a place that we could go so we could continue to sweat. Thor was uninterested for his own reasons. (I’m pretty sure that at this time, he was carrying a weapon and taking 20 bong hits a day.) But I wanted to keep that feeling that I had found in Santa Fe. I found a place that only allowed you in if you knew the right people. A man that lived near the “hip” (I feel like a tool using that word, and putting it in quotes, but it fits) area of town added a homemade sauna to his large backyard, an outdoor shower—which people majorly needed to use more—and a pool. There was a hole in the ground for a bathroom (I shit you not); a large shaded area, where occasionally someone would be giving a massage; and another large area around the pool to lay in. It was like going from the Ritz Carlton to Motel 6, but it would do.

I had some deep issues with “the sweat” from the start. I hated the exclusiveness. Really, it was a bunch of dirty, aging hippies who thought themselves wise and enlightened. One day a man came into the area drunk after hours and didn’t notice that the pool had been drained. It was dark, so he couldn’t see the notices, and he started up the sauna, had a nice sweat, and then dove headfirst into an empty pool, dying instantly. The sweat began to go downhill after that. Eventually, I’m pretty sure a couple of the guys were accused of being pedophiles.

I left the local sweat permanently years ago, because some creepy guy watched me undress. I still occasionally see people around town who I recognize but am unable to place until it hits me that I have seen them naked. I no longer need the clarity that an environment like that offers me, but I enjoyed the benefits of the sweat. What stopped working for me was that in this particular sweat, the men all blew their freaking noses in their freaking hands and wiped it on the seats. They coughed up their nasty phlegm and spit it on the floor that we walked on. They dumped bucket after bucket after bucket of water on the rocks until, I shit you not, my nipples would get burned. And never once did they ask anyone if it was okay.

So now, at 36, I have a saggy stomach from two C-sections, stretch marks, acne scars and saggy boobs. I probably have IBS. I have two worry lines between my brows, and I am sort of geriatrically achy all the time. I’m sleepy by 9 pm, I’m constantly retaining water, and I need to whiten my teeth. Not to mention the eczema. But you know what? I just don’t care. I am woman. Hear me roar.

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Filed under Storage Unit., Thor.

Chicks Dig Me.

serendipity (countable and uncountable; plural serendipities)

  1. An unsought, unintended, and/or unexpected discovery and/or learning experience that happens by accident and sagacity.

I’ve spent the last week or so searching for a way to describe to anyone what my first weekend away from my children was like. Part of me doesn’t want to describe it, so as to keep it mine and mine alone but really, it is too magnificent to leave out of my small corner of the blogosphere. So you get it. A kernel, a smidge, a scoonch.

I’m actually a little bit surprised that the earth didn’t shake on August 6th, 2010. Wait. Maybe it did. Did it? Hold on, I’m going to Google it. O.K. If the earth shook, it wasn’t a headline maker. Moving on.

Have you ever made a new recipe, complicated and somewhat questionable? And then, in the middle of making it you realize you are missing a thing or two so on top of making a new recipe you also have to improvise? Really, when you think about it, there isn’t a recipe in the world that would suck, as long as the elements of it are all desirable to you. So, like, I wouldn’t cook with poop or blood and God help me, neither would you. Right? Right? The only real risk you take with a new recipe is that once put together, one element wont mesh with another and after you eat it you want to cut your tongue out. Yes, I know you have and if you haven’t, you need to fucking cook more. Now. Go cook and then read this post.

As I was saying, at a certain point in the planning of my trip to Sedona I had no choice but to just let go of any expectation or anticipation. It was going to be organic no matter how much I tried to plan or control it and since I tend to be a bit of a control freak, well, let’s just say that it was a fantastic exercise for me. My intention was to get away, rip the band-aid off, reconnect with women, and relax. I had some specific ideas of what I wanted, actual visions of what I wanted, most of them revolving around a dining room table and water. Outside of that, it was completely blank in my mind. This is something that is so typically difficult for me (the unknown) that it has been known to make me just an eensy weensy bit insane. The weeks leading up to the trip were fraught with the chaos of nerves and the calming with deep breathes and as I’ve said, letting go.

What happened is this: Magic. I’ve seen some pretty magnificent things in my life: a child falling off a cliff and landing with only a broken arm, an ill and practically mute relative tell me everything I needed to know with a simple look, my children being born . . . you get the picture. However, one thing that has always been a bit of a mystery to me is the wedge so commonly found between women. It may sound as if I am generalizing—I don’t mean to—but I have found that when women unknown to one another gather in one place, there is a certain evaluation that takes place. They’re all, “Oh my God, Becky. Look at her butt! It is so big!” Guards remain up, judgment occurs (spoken or unspoken), defensiveness and mistrust is usually evident, and misunderstanding tends to happen pretty frequently. I too have been one of those women, so please, don’t think that I am trying to say anything as if I am above it. I’m not. However, I am able to recognize it happening and really question it.

I asked without asking that the 4 women joining me in Sedona show up and have a great time. I didn’t want to be infected by anyone’s nasty negative mood, but I didn’t really say that. I was so excited, that I am pretty sure they received more e-mails from me in two weeks than anyone else has in our entire relationship. Reminders, weather reports, excitement, flight details, ideas for activities, and questions about food were the typical content. And then, all of a sudden, I was at the airport. You would think that not seeing someone for 20 years would make the initial reunion a little awkward! But, sweet Jesus! I just wanted to smooch her and stick her in my pocket the second I saw her! Seriously people, you know how, when high school girls see each other after being apart for, like, six minutes, they hug and jump at the same time while squealing? (That’s a requirement, right?) Yeah. That is what I felt like. And that was just the first out-of-towner.

The other two flights and long-lost friends came in (yes, there was squealing) and our trip (and veritable love fest) began. You need to know that there was one brave soul on this trip, braver than the rest, as she is a new (and local) friend to me. She signed on to come, needing to get away for her own reasons and, really, jumping into more of an unknown than any one of us. It is a testament to how completely interested we all were in each other when I tell you that, after leaving Phoenix and driving for an hour and a half, we discovered that we were almost in California, and nowhere near Sedona. Ah . . . women. But, as one of my more eloquent friends put it, “we got all that small shit out of the way.”

Within 10 minutes of arriving in Sedona (after first stocking up on groceries), we were cooking a meal together. There is something about women cooking together that makes me all tingly. (And if that isn’t a word, it really ought to be.) All of us maneuvering around one another in a tiny kitchen, “getting shit done,” as my wonderfully potty-mouthed friend stated. I had to marvel at how perfect and natural it all felt.

There are so many things I want to tell you, but then I would have to kill you. Or at the very least find a way to wipe your memory clean, which would be extremely cool. Oh my God. Wouldn’t that be the coolest? Most important to know, though, is that, in one weekend, with random women from across the country, virtually unknown to one another, we all (and I can say this with confidence) became connected. Never once did I experience a moment like the one I described earlier, with women being catty. We, for whatever reason, came to this trip totally open to anything, and we remained that way the entire time.

What the fuck do men do when they get together? Seriously!

Within 5 minutes of our first margarita, my new friend that came with me from Tucson said something that became a theme to me for the entire trip. We were all talking, and she said to one of my long lost friends, “I love how there is this long moment of silent laughter before you laugh out loud.” Not only did she mean it, but she said it. Such a small thing, I know, but what I realize now is that it was a weekend of noticing. We are so busy and preoccupied in life, that the nuances that make us who we are, and which so desperately deserve to be noticed, go unnoticed. All of these women spent the entire weekend not just listening to one another but hearing what was being said. They didn’t just observe one another, they noticed the little things. They didn’t just show up on this trip for a vacation, they were open to an experience. And really, they didn’t just enjoy one another, they loved one another. Love, pure and fucking true.

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Filed under All of them., Women and friendship.

2 Is The Magic Number

I just realized that on 11/11/11 I will be 38 years old. First, this is ridiculous in general, just based on my maturity level. Second, 3 + 8 = 11. Dude. It equals 11. What is truly shocking is that I haven’t realized this sooner, since I am incredibly annoying when it comes to my birthday. Just the fact that I was thinking about a birthday that is two birthdays in the future ought to give you some idea as to how obnoxious I am about my birthday. At least I stopped wearing signs announcing my birthday. At least there is that.

When I lived in Gunnison I worked the late shift at a little hotel, checking people in and answering phones. The late shift was boring but with immense potential for meeting weirdos. And I love weirdos. Every once in a while I would get creeped out by the overeager hunters, but in general my job was pretty easy and uninteresting. Until one night, a woman pulled up, came in, and stayed talking to me at the desk for 3 hours. Now I don’t know about you, but that is a long time to talk to someone I have never met before. She was so interesting, though. First of all, she seemed utterly unfazed by the fact that there wasn’t a single room available anywhere in the entire town. It was fall, and people book rooms months, sometimes years, in advance in order to see the aspens change in Gunnison. But when I informed her (after calling about 27 different places first) that she would have to move on, she looked at me and smiled and said, “That’s okay, I didn’t consult my pendulum before I stopped here. I’m sure if I had, it would have told me to keep driving.” Yes, this was my first pendulum experience. For my second, click here.

Now, in all fairness, inside, I was a little bit freaked out. But I didn’t want her to know that, so I played it cool. I have become pretty good at playing it cool. When people say things to me like, “My urine is so yellow! Should I see a doctor?” Instead of replying, “Jesus! I’m a freaking massage therapist, not a urologist!” I calmly suggest they drink more water. Or like when, before a Reiki treatment once, the therapist told me that she “burps and farts a lot” when she “channels God” and then proceeded to burp and fart for one straight hour, I just acted like that sort of things happens to me all the time. True story, by the way.  In the case of my hotel visitor, I just listened, because this woman wanted to talk. She wanted to tell her story so bad, it seemed like she hadn’t spoken to anyone in a very long time. I wish I could remember all of her story but, you see, when the children came out of my womb, they stuck these long, memory-sucking tentacles inside my brain and removed pretty much the entire portion that involves remembering things.

I do remember that she was estranged from her daughter. I’m not talking about “I haven’t spoken to her in a long time” estranged; I’m talking about, “I have no idea where she is on this earth” estranged. I learned that she had been driving around, living out of her car for months, going from city to city in search of her daughter. She had a shrine to her daughter all over her dashboard. She showed me a few pictures of her in case I ever saw her, leaving me the phone number of someone who would, “know how to get a hold of me”. It took me years to throw away that phone number. For one, I am a pack rat and for two, it just seemed wrong to throw it out.

When it came time for her to move on, she did two things. First she did a numerology reading for me and declared that 2 is a very powerful number for me. It was fun to watch, because she did it really fast on a napkin, and it looked like basic math, so I thought that if I wanted to, I could learn how to do numerology too. Yeah. That never happened. Second, she pulled out a map, so creased and worn that it was unreadable to me in some places. It was all marked up with her writing, which she told me were the notes that she had taken regarding her daughter in each place she had been over the last few months. Then she took out her pendulum (a real one, people, not some piece of crap roll of tape and headset) and held it up over the map. This is how she had been deciding where to go all this time. I’m SHOCKED she hadn’t found her daughter yet! Too bad that pendulums can’t talk. Really though, I remember feeling quite sad for her and feeling as if there were many things she was leaving out of her story.

Once she decided where she was headed, I walked her out to her car, taking in the fact that it looked like an entire 700-square-foot apartment was in the back seat, and gave her a big hug goodbye. I felt like we knew more about each other at that point than most old friends know about one another. I was literally buzzing with excitement and energy as I drove home to my apartment that I shared with, like, 17 dirty hippies that kept referring to me as a “cool cat.” At least that is what it felt like that night. I tried to explain what had transpired to everyone but they were all so stoned and involved with the Blues Brothers movie, that I couldn’t really get through to them. In retrospect, that was probably a good thing, because at that point in my life, very few things belonged only to me.

And now. Now we have 11/11/11 (2+2+2) and the age 38 (8+3+11, 1+1=2). Don’t even get me started about Luca who was born on 2/22. Sweet lord! We have twos up the wazoo! And I can’t help thinking about this woman as I do with most people that have had supporting or brief roles in my life. Where is she? Did she find her daughter? And mostly I just wish that I could invite her to my birthday party, in 2011 (2+1+1=4 which is easily dived into 2). Want to come?

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Filed under Before Children., Confessions.

Oh god, I’m going to hurl.

I’m afraid that I will get a zit on my face right before I leave for Sedona. I already have one, so it isn’t all that unrealistic. I’m afraid that I will get sick and be miserable while in Sedona. I’m afraid that my kids will cry for four days, that I will cry for four days, that the kids will never forgive me and that John will meet someone else while out with the children and leave me for her because she would never have the audacity to leave her kids for a vacation. I’m afraid that really, I am quite annoying to be around. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to sleep, that it will rain the whole time, that my hair really doesn’t look as cute as I think it does.

I also fear that my family will die in a horrible car crash while I am gone or become maimed in some way and I will be unreachable because my cell phone sucks a big bunch of donkey ass. I worry that one of my friends will die on the way here (sorry ladies) and I will have to live with the guilt for the rest of my life. I am afraid that I no longer know how to be mature. I am pretty sure that I never really knew how to be mature.

I hope I don’t forget to pack my anxiety medication.

There is a real possibility that I have no idea how to complete thoughts anymore or that I can’t actually string sentences together without sounding a little like Woody Allen on meth. What if my eczema acts up? Or someone judges me because I just revealed that I have eczema? Oh dear god. What if…really…what if I am really only tolerated by the people around me and no one has actually had the balls to tell me that I am a horrible and uninteresting person?

What if I look fat? Seriously, what if I gain like, 10 pounds in 4 days and have low self esteem the entire time I am on vacation? What if I am the only one with cellulite? Sweet Jesus! I will be the only one with cellulite. I probably will be the only one with like, 17 bruises on my legs because I move too fast and always bang into things. I know that at least one woman that is coming still has abs, so already there’s that.

What if I get bitten by a rattle snake and we are so far from the nearest hospital that my legs turn black, paralyzed and fall off? It happens. I’m also afraid that I may drop my camera in the creek like John did the last time we were in Sedona. At least there is no risk of me also falling in while holding Luca which is what happened to John. What if Sedona gets hit with an epidemic and we all need to be quarantined? Wait. That may be fun, actually.

I suppose though, that the real question is, what happens if I don’t want to come back?

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Filed under Women and friendship.