Thursday, January 31, 2008

Good girls don't. But I do.

I once played a hooker in a church play.


When I was in high school, I went to a youth group at the very Dutch church where many of my friends went. Pretty much everyone in the congregation had a last name that started with V. Mine didn’t, and I stuck out. But the Dutch? Fairly welcoming as long as you don’t try to shop or mow the yard on Sunday.

Anyway. We did a couple of plays for the congregation. One was about the stresses of high school life. Why, I’m not sure – seeing as how all of the high schoolers in the congregation were actually in the show. So who was left to be inspired to go to school the next day and love the jocks, stoners, and artsy kids equally, like Jesus would? Those 80-year-old farmers?

The other play we did was something about Jesus being put on trial. I played a former friend of Mary Magdelene. I wore heels, a truly mini mini skirt, a tight sweater and about 20 pounds of jewelry. I was going to be a witness at the trial.

All of the witnesses sat randomly throughout the church. We sat down before any of the congregants arrived.

Evidently, the pew that I selected was The Pew of an older couple. They arrived at Their Pew and were flummoxed by my presence in what everyone else evidently knew was Their Pew. And, I imagine they were flummoxed by the fact that I was a whore. In church. And that I insisted on sitting on the aisle.

I played it cool, but I could tell the wife was disgusted and the husband was, umm, curious.

The play started.

BFF’s boyfriend played The Big Man, and his job was to sit on stage for the duration of the play and not laugh. When I was called to the witness stand, I waved to Jesus as I walked up. I chewed gum. And I made eyes at Jesus.

Just writing that hurts my soul. I chewed gum in church and I flirted with our lord and savior.

Obviously, it was an awful, awful play.

And afterward? Many of the 80-year-old farmers stood around talking about how great the show was. One man actually exclaimed that it was the best play he’d ever seen.

And for my role in that, I’m surely going to hell.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Shiny and miserable.

Tonight, I'm meeting with a friend and her high school senior daughter. The daughter is in the midst of nerve wracking college decisions, and is torn between majoring in theatre or English. Seeing as how I started out a theatre major and switched to English, they want to pick my brain.

At first, I was very flattered. And then I realized that I needed to find something worthwhile to actually say.

I've polled a few friends with theatre and/or English degrees. We agree that it doesn't matter what your major is. It matters that you find something you love and get experience and training. The rest will follow.

But the whole exercise makes me think of being a 17-year-old high school senior. I was so uptight and scared about everything. Scared of going to the "right" school. Scared of not doing the "right" things. Scared of not doing what "everyone" expected of me and thereby ruining my entire life.

Damn, girl. Chill out.

So, really, if I had a chance to address the 17-year-old me, I'd probably say this:

Don't pick a college simply because the process freaks you out and your mom says she can picture you at a specific school.

Forget about what you think people expect you to do. You won't disappoint anyone who matters. Really, the world is just happy that you're wearing pants. The rest is gravy.

You don't have to be perfect, and you aren't supposed to be perfect. Stop starving yourself.

Enjoy where you are right now. Don't stress out about the details - you won't remember them in 15 years anyway.

And finally, how do you get your hair so shiny? Older you has hair that is dry and she looks at pictures of 17-year-old you with glossy, magazine hair and wonders if Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies - one of two foods you eat - contain magical proteins that go right to the hair follicle.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Barack, your event people suck.

So, my fingers are shaking and it's hard to type. Why? Well, I've been outside.

It's 17 degrees, not including a very brisk wind from the north.

My current political boyfriend, Barack Obama, is speaking right now. A coworker and I went. Doors opened at 3:45. We got there are 5:05. My boyfriend was scheduled to speak at 5:45.

Now, I'm no dummy. I know 5:45 really means 6:30.

However, we stood and stood and stood, us and a couple hundred other voters, waiting for some movement of the line. It was cold, but there was great people watching. An incredibly diverse array of similarly disenfranchised people surrounded us.

I was amazed and invigorated that so many people - all colors, all ages, all socio-economic appearances - had ventured out into the cold to hear Senator Obama speak. One dad had three little girls and one box of Girl Scout cookies to keep them all happy. The feeling was festive. These were people full of anticipation, waiting to hear what this man had to say. People who were hungry for real hope.

And then?

And then, a woman walking the wrong way through the crowd said she'd been there since 4:10 and had never moved in line. And then about 10 minutes later, an Obama hack announced that the auditorium was full, but the senator would speak to the overflow crowd first.


A mass exodus ensued. Coworker and I decided to hang tight in the luxurious 40 degree warmth of the staging area. Twenty minutes later, the Obama hack announced that the senator was on his way from the airport and would be arriving any minute.

We went outside. And stood in the snow. And waited.

And waited.

And then?

Then, another hack announced that the senator was running late and was speaking inside. He'd address the overflow crowd when he was done - in 45 minutes.

Did I mention we were standing in snow?


When my grandmother was born, women couldn't vote. People die for the privilege to vote. They walk miles and miles to the polls. They stand up against armed forces who really don't want them to cast their votes. I appreciate that standing in snow in freezing temperatures really isn't even a blip on the democratic hardship radar.

But seriously?

This is 2008. This is America. Get your shit together and get a venue that will hold more than a handful of people. Make some fucking signs that tell people where to go. And for God's sake, be honest when things don't work out according to plan. Don't go hide, you campaign goons.

I hope that none of the folks who waited in the snow hold this event management nightmare against Obama personally. I'm trying. I can't feel my feet, and it's hard not to be bitter.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Better living through interior design.

I love interior design. I love the colors and fabrics and the nuances of a well-collected space.

I've had the particular delight of decorating my house for me - no other opinions to consider, no vetoes allowed. After all, Geriatric Poodle and Foxie Doxie don't even see in color. They appear to love the vintage fabric valances even if they don't match a damn thing in the house.

With this love of good design in mind, it's been a particular point of shame that since I moved into my house last August, my office has been The Room of Shit. The only reason the rest of the house looks presentable is because anytime anyone comes over, I move all the crap into the office and shut the door. Ta-da! Clean house.

Except. Except I've had it.

I worked from home today and realized that I Am Done.

So, I just returned from Home Depot. I bought yet another quart of the yellow paint that shouldn't look so blotchy after three coats. And I scored some more Kilz, in my ongoing quest to hide the random stain by the window.

The clutter is being moved into the living room, where it will be sorted while the paint dries.

There will be new blinds. And a new desk configuration. And, if I'm lucky, some fucking inner peace.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Good morning, Angels!

All of the freak-out news people are calling today The Coldest Day of the Year. Round up your young and your womenfolk – we’re all going to die!

So, it was one degree below zero when I woke up today. Yikes.

As usual, I was running a little bit behind schedule this morning. I showered, washed my hair, and then commenced making myself presentable.

That’s when I learned that my hairdryer is dead.

Kaput. Gone. Off to the great beauty shop in the sky.

Luckily, my thickthickthick hair is shortshortshort, but it still requires a little help drying. You know, on account of the thickthickthick part.

So, yes, I drove to work this morning with the heater on full-blast to help dry my hair. And then I styled my hair in the ladies room at Corporate Behemoth.

You know it’s going to be a good day when packing your crap for work includes an array of hair care products. Although I do feel like I’m channeling my inner Farrah by having a big ol’ can of hairspray in my purse.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Give me your tired, your poor ...

I had a glorious realization last night.

I was driving to Mr. Wonderful's house from the gym. I'd just bonded with a treadmill and done my time with some weights. I was bundled up against the cold and huddled down in my Honda.

And then it hit me.

I've had some achiness in my right breast as of late. It feels like my boob is too big and too lumpy. It's just like last winter - I think I have more cysts. Shit.

But this wasn't even the dramatic realization. The dramatic realization was that this happened last winter. The same time as this winter. The same time that's always the most super stressful of super stressful times at Corporate Behemoth.

Son of a bitch. I have fibrocystic breast disease and it's stress related.

The good news is that based on my experience last year, I know that I don't have breast cancer and I'm not going to die. Worse case scenario, I could go for an ultrasound and a needle aspiration.

The other good news is that I have a concrete cause. Yes, I might be genetically predisposed to a lumpy ol' rack, but the stress? The stress is completely within my control.

The bad news is that this means I actually need to take steps to control this stress.

But the other other good news is that now I have concrete proof that reducing stress isn't a nice to have. It's a necessity.

(As a side note, raise your hand if you're sick of me talking about how stressed I am. Yeah, me too.)

I'm thinking this is beyond hot baths and the occasional glass of wine. This is a major lifestyle shift. This is meditation and acupuncture getting back with the yoga that saved my life and my sanity a few years ago. This isn't a "Hey, let's join the Y" -type of resolution. This is a "I can see this stress manifesting itself in my body in this way, and if I don't change, it's going to manifest itself in more and more destructive ways" -type shift.

Now the trouble is figuring out how to drive that shift.

There's a Louise Hay book with my name on it at the library. Any other recommendations? Help me out and I'll start blogging about stuff besides stress. Sounds like a pretty good trade, don't you think?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

There she is!

I spent the weekend hanging out with my BFF in North Carolina. We had grand plans that fell through - more on that after I get some photographic evidence - but we managed to have a grand old time.

Like a pal who introduces you to an illicit drug, darling BFF introduced me to Miss America: Reality Check on TLC.

Oh dear.

I've written before about my love/hate relationship with Miss America. I'm a feminist with a women's studies minor, but doggone it, I love me some pageants, err, I mean scholarship competitions.

Yes, I am a complicated woman.

Miss America is this Saturday, and Miss America: Reality Check gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how the pageant, err, scholarship program is attempting to reinvent and reinvigorate itself. The contestants were basically told to forget all the pageant, err, scholarship program robotics that they had honed to get to this point. They were taught to walk like semi-normal human beings. And they were given make-unders to rid them of their hair helmets.

So, basically, they were given permission to be real people. And some of them didn't know how to do it.

This, I can understand. When you are told how to talk and walk and who to be and you pretty much master it, it has to come at the price of your personality. My cousin had a college friend who was Miss Illinois, and she said it took about two years for her friend to regain her pre-pageant personality.

Why are we trying to turn our young women into future Stepford Wives? And why do I continue to be so fascinated by the women who manage to pull it off and/or succumb to the pressure? Is it because they appear to have all their shit together, and that's one thing that I simply can't manage in my life as a real, live woman?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Put your damn clothes back on.

I am Working. And I am Crabby. And I am Not Writing.

So many things are on my mind right now, and some if it is even good blog fodder - like my manic shopping spree at Nordstrom that netted not one, not two, but three big-girl bras for the low, low price of $248.


But I'm allowing myself to get mired down in the crap at Corporate Behemoth. My rack looks fantastic, but you wouldn't know it, as I am hunkered down over my keyboard.


Also, I've experienced Blogger Pause. What is Blogger Pause? Blogger Pause is a sudden realization that you are nekkid.

My case of Blogger Pause happened while I was innocently eating leftover chicken curry casserole in the cafeteria at Corporate Behemoth. A coworker approached my table and said, "Are you Cha Cha?"

My jaw dropped. "Uh, yeah?"

And she nodded and walked away. My first real-life, no-I-didn't-give-it-to-you blogger identification.

Now, I'm certainly not worried about this friend knowing my secret identity. But it does bring to mind some weighty questions. Would I be comfortable with the entire universe knowing exactly who I am and associating my ramblings here with my real-life person?

For the most part, yes. If Corporate Behemoth is privy to my writing, I should probably curb my use of Fuck. And maybe I should stop talking about my boobs all the time.

But why is it easy to bare my soul to complete strangers, while I've only given a select few of my real-life inner circle the heads-up about my blog?

Probably for the same reason why it's easier to leave an anonymous complaint than to open yourself up to feedback and interaction.

So, am I entering into a new phase of blogging? Or am I going to be swallowed up by the nekkidness and retreat into my lair, never to be heard from again?

How do my fellow bloggers feel about this? How do you handle writing sans protective clothing?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

When the world never seems to be living up to your dreams.

Because I am in dire need of new music, I've had the theme song from The Facts of Life going through my brain for lo this entire long day.

Because I'm so kind, I'll refrain from linking to it so that no one will be tempted to, you know, click on it and actually listen.

However, it got me to thinking. There were several high-quality television programs that provided hours of entertainment away from the console television of my youth. My friends, cousins and I played TV shows alllll the time. Like, we must not have had any original ideas.

The Facts of Life
My friend Marcia's parents had a bar in their basement. The bar, of course, made perfect pretend bunk beds. Bunk beds like the kind you'd have at boarding school!

She always wanted to be Tootie even though she, uh, didn't look the part. But, speaking of not looking the part, I always had to be Jo. And yes, motorcycles scare the bejesus out of me. I can't explain it, either.

Fantasy Island
My cousin Derek would stand on the desk in our grandparents' basement and yell, "Da plane! Da plane!" And then, his sister and I would pretend to be Cheryl Ladd, guest starring as a woman in search of her true love. I think we traded off between who got to be Cheryl and who had to be Ricardo Montalban.

The Love Boat
My cousin and I got creative on this one. Every Saturday night, we'd have our Barbies all lined up in front of the TV. When the opening credits flashed shots of the guest stars, we'd race to scream, "That's me!" for our chosen dolls. Then, we'd proceed to act out the storyline along with the show, complete with costume changes. Sometimes you got lucky and your Barbie was Charo. Other times, your Ken was Jimmie Walker. Love is full of disappointments.

Cagney & Lacey
This ladycop show shepherded in a new, grittier bit of pretend. My cousin and I would play this in the backyard, running around after bad guys and climbing a tree that represented the station house - of course.

Playing Cagney & Lacey always really pissed me off, though, because, as the brunette, I always had to be Lacey. And Cagney always went out on dates and drove a blue Cutlass Supreme (my cousin's creation, I'm sure), while I had to go home to Harvey and the kids. This was my first lesson in the injustices of the supermom fantasy and, perhaps, my first introduction to feminism.

I also remember playing The Dukes of Hazard, Kate & Allie and, of course, Scarecrow & Mrs. King. Also, one summer I made my very own home version of Wheel of Fortune out of an envelope box.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I don't live in my parents' basement. And I generally interact with the three-dimensional world on a full-time basis. Dy-no-mite!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Sad little iPod.

I need some new music.

My iPod is crammed with favorites of the “I’ve heard this album 937 times” and “I bought this one song off of iTunes because it makes me think of going to the pool with my mom in 1978” varieties. While there are a few songs of the “I bought this single on iTunes and it makes me feel hip” variety, mostly, well, my music feels tiresome.

I need your help.

What saucy songs put a spring in your step?

In exchange for your kind generosity, I offer some of my favoritest songs. And none of them are of the “It was 1978 and my mom drove a huge brown Buick” variety.

Distant Sun – Crowded House
I love this song on the original record, but it made me cry in concert. The heavens exploded. I had the good fortune to catch this most brilliant of overlooked bands on Austin City Limits this weekend. They kept me up late. I would totally be their roadie.

Our history: I went to an actual record store and bought Crowded House’s greatest hits on an actual CD after I broke up with my first serious boyfriend, the BMG Tape and CD Club. I drove to the mall with the express purpose of this purchase. It did not disappoint.

Angel of Montgomery – Bonnie Raitt
I have the live version of this John Prine-penned tune on my ipod, but the original recording is still the most moving. “How the hell can a person get up in the morning, and come home in the evening and have nothing to say?” Those lines and her delivery break my brittle little heart.

Our history: I first heard this song my freshman year of college while working in the theatre scenery shop. Yes, I was operating power tools. And I put down whatever it was that I was mangling and I listened.

Not Ready to Make Nice – Dixie Chicks
You go, girls. I got nothin’ more to add.

Our history: I heard this driving one late afternoon with the sun in my eyes. They were playing it on the alternative station because no one else would touch it. And so, I began a love affair with the rush hour dj.

Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight & The Pips
“Mmm … LA.” Indeed. No list of favorites would be complete without a little classic Motown. When I grow up, I want to sing like Gladys and dance like a Pip. Sadly, the best line trails off at the very end: “My man! His girl …” This song is about that dedication that rips your heart out and you just don’t give a damn.

Our history: Are you kidding? I’ve probably been grooving to this song since the womb. (Hence why I need some new music.) My adult appreciation, though, started when I saw an old clip of the Pips performing. The arm-up-fist-“woo-hoo!” move gets me every time.

Statue – Low Millions
“Ain’t nothing going on here but the rent.” Ah, yes. This lovely little heartbreak song is good for wallowing … but lives on past those raw feelings because the lyrics paint such vivid pictures. It’s the sort of song you’d write if you were talented like that.

Our history: Post-heartbreak. Had to buy it. Had to listen to it approximately 4,396 times. Still love it, post-post-post-heartbreak. Feel it should be standard issue to incoming college freshmen about to get their hearts destroyed for the first time. Repeat listens much healthier than chain-smoking to The Cure.

I Love to Hate You – Erasure
Try not dancing and singing to this one. I dare you.

Our history: At some point in college, I memorized this entire song. I don’t know when. I don’t know why. But last summer, I scared the bejesus out of Mr. Wonderful – and myself – when I belted the entire thing as we prepared to see Erasure in concert. And really, I was sort of bummed when I wasn’t asked to sing back-up at the show. Don’t they know I know all the words?

So. Your turn. What’s playing in your head? I mean, besides the multiple voices.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

On, Iowa, on to victory!

So, there’s a wee bit of attention being paid to the Hawkeye state right now. Tonight’s the caucus, and suddenly a flyover state is the center of the known world.

I agree that the Iowa caucus is a rather bass-ackwards way to get our presidential election off and running. It seems crazy to give one small, specific group of voters such early and important power in choosing our candidates.


Let’s give some love to the Hawkeyes.

They’ve had to put up with campaign bullshit for a year. My parents got their first campaign call January 3, 2007, from Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney, who will never, ever, ever get my mother’s vote for the simple reason that his people called her on January 3, 2007.

Everywhere you go, there are signs and workers and advertisements. Iowans aren’t dumb. The state has the best public education system in the nation. But they are annoyed.

Two days after Christmas, I sat in a coffee shop with my mom and my BFF. We’d just gotten five inches of snow, and BFF noted that there was a guy walking down the middle of the main street through town. Evidently, the unshoveled sidewalks were not to his liking.

Lo and behold, the middle-of-the-street guy came into the coffee shop, reeking of “Not From Here” and that intense, preppy look all the student government guys had in college. You know – the guys who never did anything fun because they knew they wanted to run for office one day.

Not long after, a tour bus pulled up and Fred Thompson got off. He was channeling his best Ronald Reagan. I was just pleased to see he had the good sense to be wearing a hat.

The people in the coffee shop were weary. The AP video guy couldn’t coerce anyone to throw him a bone by way of a sound bite. I don’t know if anyone talked to Thompson – we left. It seemed the decisions had already been made.

And so tonight, people will leave their homes to congregate in school cafeterias, community centers and libraries. Instead of filing an anonymous vote at a time convenient to them, they will stand up and publicly announce their preferences at a set time.

Appreciate this: the wind chill in Des Moines is currently 19 degrees. By the time the caucuses start promptly at 7, it will have been dark for almost three hours. And there’s really no such thing as clear roads in wintry Iowa.

So, let’s give some props to the folks who have waded through the crap and still manage to get out and take a stand tonight. Bully for you.

Lovin’ you is easy cuz you’re beautiful.

I’m not 100 percent Cha Cha right now. I’m at about 80 percent. I’m sharing my body with Aunt Flo. Unfortunately, the 20 percent that she’s decided to snuggle up with this month just happens to be my brain.

The past few days, I’ve hardly been able to keep my eyes open past 9 p.m. This isn’t normal for me, but it’s understandable in light of the craziness of the last few weeks. I’m just riding it out.

I’m having those moments where I know, rationally, that I’m being irrational. I can’t stop it, but I can acknowledge it. Like last night when Mr. Wonderful was voluntarily rubbing lotion on my back.

“Why are you being so nice to me? I’m such a bitch right now!”

“Because I love you, honey!”

“Ok. I’ll let you live. I’m sorry I’m such a bitch right now!”

He laughed. “You know, it’s a good thing you didn’t take a shower tonight, or you would have just gone ‘Poof!’”

I looked at him, hard.

“I will kill you. I’ll smother you in the night. And no jury in the land will convict me. And, I’m blogging about this.”

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

How I celebrated the birth of our lord and savior.

The holidays provided a refreshing respite from Corporate Behemoth. I hung out with Mr. Wonderful's wonderful family. And then, we left for my parents' house at 9 p.m. Christmas eve. The interstate and highways were completely empty - truly beautiful. We got in at about 1:15 Christmas morning.

As we made multiple, quiet trips to the cars to unload our bounty of luggage, gifts and dogs, I realized that if I really had my act together, we would have showed up at about 6 a.m. and made a pot of coffee, a la the "Peter!" Folger's commercial from 1982 that they dredged up every holiday season until a few years ago.

But, alas. We showed up too late or too early and woke my mom from her Ambien haze. However, she didn't actually remember any of our conversations the next day. Bygones.

It was great to hang with the fam. And I thoroughly enjoyed our Christmas day activity of sledding in the front yard. It started with me and Mr. Wonderful on the sled I received from Santa in 1978. Soon, my brother joined us with more sleds. And then my dad. And my mom and her bad back.

It devolved into boyfriend, brother and dad competing for who could sled the farthest. A stick was placed in the snow to mark the last legal spot for using your arms to further your cause. My mom took post as official.

I've never laughed so hard.

It was pretty warm, so the snow started to melt, making the sledding run faster. At one point, my darling brother pulled me aside and said, "Speed is just too dangerous for you, Cha Cha. Why don't you go over there and stretch?"

Did I mention my brother is a coach?

And do I have to mention that I then tackled him to the ground and threw snow down the back of his jacket? Probably not - I'm assuming that part is a given.

By the end of it all, Mr. Wonderful had a knot the size of a kiwi sticking out the side of his knee. And none of us could move from the beatings we had given our bodies and the exertion of lugging our sorry asses up the hill over and over again.

Good times, indeed.

Then, as is my people's custom, we ate lasagna and watched Our Favorite Holiday Movie.

Of course, I'm talking about the Eddie Murphy/Dan Aykroyd gem, Trading Places.

Seriously. It's the funniest, bestest holiday movie ever. I think we all know it verbatim. On our first date, Mr. Wonderful mentioned out of the blue that it's one of his favorite movies ever, and I knew we would be together.

Besides. What Christmas is complete without a topless Jamie Lee Curtis?