Monthly Archives: October 2014

Still Shaving After all These Years

According to my blog statistics, my posts have a range of views and visitors, but guess what consistently gets two to three visits every day? Unfortunately, it’s not any of my hard-won, funny pieces; no, it’s a long, serious essay about shaving that I wrote in my 30s when I had the energy to be more seriously passionate and the brain cells to match. I used to write all my pieces like that when time was a luxury I didn’t realize I had. Lucky for you, I’ve only posted four of them on my website. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of them, they have stood the test of time, and I posted them because I could never get anyone else to publish them (so take that Serious Literary Journals that rejected me). It’s just that now I need my life to be more light than serious. I thought a couple of people might stumble on to them, but the shaving essay is actually one of the highest visited pages I have. Isn’t that crazy? Even crazier is the phrase that people use that finds my essay. If I Google “do Arab women have to shave completely,” on my phone app, my essay comes up second, after Yahoo answers. What the hell? I do have a few lines about that in the essay, but it was because I was meandering my way through various cultures and their attitudes about women and hair. I find most of the methods of removing hair tedious, terrifying, or mystifying and was desperately looking for a culture I could adopt to avoid it. Spoiler alert: there ain’t none.

Ah, the mysteries of the internet and human curiosity. Who am I to argue? My recent foray into reacquainting myself with my girliness brought me back full circle to the shaving thing, so here is my follow-up to the shaving essay, with less time, fewer brain cells and less talk about Arab women, who I still think have to shave everything. No, this piece is about me revisiting shaving from the point of view of being divorced, middle-aged, and contemplating how much shaving does one actually need to do in case, say, a tall, handsome stranger (or really any stranger) is smitten enough with me to want to take a peek beneath my girlie dress. (go here for a recap of my girlie dress adventures). Yes, I’m a delusional optimist, but it’s more fun than being a Serious Writer.

My shaving research seemed to indicate that one needs to shave everything. Hmmm. OK, still not sold on that—my skin is very sensitive—but in the interest of being open-minded, I thought, well maybe the methods have improved over the last 15 to 20 years. Ha! Now that’s funny! I found a list of the 10 best shaving products (oh, how I have fallen), and carefully chose four of these vetted methods (no crappy “As Seen on TV” products—I’m talking to you No!No!). Here they are, and for the record, getting rid of body hair is still just as tedious, terrifying, and mystifying as ever.

  • The pink razor continues to exist. In my essay I rant about stupid pink women’s shavers. I have always used men’s shavers which I’m convinced work better than the pink ones of yesteryear. Well the recommended razor this time around, is yes, still pink. Really people? It did seem to be upgraded however. The Schick Quattro for women (at least they don’t call it a “ladies” razor) comes with a badass trimmer on one end and four blades on the other. All the reviews raved about the four blades. Pink or not, that had to be better than two, right? Turns out, not so much. There are so many guards around the blade, I had to bear down on it like I was planing a two by four. I tried a couple of times until my skin started to sting. I still came out of the shower with five o’clock shadow on my legs. Looks like it’s back to the man’s double razor. I have to check this, but I’m pretty sure the four-bladed men’s Gillette Quattro trusts men to not slice themselves to ribbons. The trimmer is fine, so I’m keeping the hideous pink thing in my shower.
  • Bikini Zone Anti-Bumps Shave Gel. Well at least this product admits that for some of us, the biking area is only going to be smooth and mark free through Photoshop. It kind of worked. I would say it reduced the angry red bumps to mildly argumentative. I may stick to my previous biking area shaving strategy, which was to wear a bathing suit skirt or shorts. If I’m going to fantasize about a handsome stranger, I may as well throw in that he cares not about an unPhotoshopped bikini area.
  • Olay Smooth Finish Facial Hair Removal Duo. People really raved about this in a kind of way that scared me as I wondered what they had to put up with before this came along. I do have a light mustache, but it’s the kind that can’t be seen readily in normal face-to-face encounters (friends, do not correct me if this isn’t the case). Given my early experience with stinky hair removal products, I wasn’t motivated to do anything about it anyway, except invoke my powers of denial. The magical part of this product, apparently, is the clear protective gel you put on first, then you put on the hair removal gunk. Even on my super sensitive skin, this product worked (the “light to medium” version, so thank god I didn’t have to go to the more soul-crushing “medium to coarse” option). I do believe the reviewers who agree with the product recommendation to wait 72 hours before doing it again. Even the gel can’t help you at that point. Still, I use the term “success” lightly—I still have to look like a bad sitcom teen girl with a white cream mustache for 10 minutes. Might as well put in some pink curlers and call it a day.
  • The final product was Pure Silk Moisturizing Shave Cream, an allegedly inexpensive cream that I couldn’t find anywhere—OK I looked in two places, but I was already in for about $75 (how do you girlie girls pay for all this stuff?), and my bar of Dove soap hasn’t let me down yet.

So that’s the lot my friends. I’m now too broke and tired from all this shaving to actually go out and meet anyone, but maybe my blog stats will go up.

Photo credit: http://crazyhyena.com/bear-shave-leg-hair-picture-meme_en

NASCAR Shmazcar

So a bunch of people get into their finely tuned, high-performance racing machines, drive around a track for a bit, get all their automotive needs taken care of by a highly expert team, and go racing around again until someone wins. Ha! Anyone can do that. What’s a bigger challenge is getting a sleepy teen out the door and to school and then getting myself to the train station on time every day, a nearly four-mile, white-knuckled  obstacle course. And no team is cheering me on or offering to fill my tank and the only things waving at me are people’s middle fingers.

Let me recount a typical weekday morning commute that includes:

  • 14 traffic lights, a number of them less than half a block away from each other.
  • 5 stop signs, plus a three-way stop, which means taking turns, and you know how great adults are at that.
  • Driving near or by 4 schools, which attract small children who are unnaturally excited by school and jump and dart unpredictable and uncomfortably close to the curb or near a street corner, usually just as I’m driving by.
  • Most of the trip involves older, narrow city streets that have cars parked along the side, reducing visibility and creating numerous opportunities to play chicken.

Oh yes, I understand professional race tracks have all kinds of “challenges” like a hairpin turn and a corkscrew. Would you like a brush and bottle of wine with that? Throw in other manic commuters who don’t follow any known traffic rules and 14 random stop lights and we’ll talk.

My morning commute starts as I stand gripping the front door handle, eye on the clock, while my teen takes his time getting dressed, putting on his shoes  and collecting his backpack, glasses, and ID. Ready? Go!

The Triple Chute

The first half mile is all downhill and an odd configuration where three parallel streets all feed in to one at the bottom of the hill. Although there are six stop signs on my trip, there is only one at the bottom of the hill, and there is no indication of who has the right of way as the three streets converge. I never encountered this situation on my driver’s ed test, so it’s every driver for himself right out of the gate. And don’t forget to dodge small excited children (for the love, why are they so happy about school?).

The Zig Zag Fake Out

At the bottom of the hill, the fun is just beginning. I now need to take a right onto one of the most heavily traveled streets in my city. On a day I’m running extra late there will surely be four cars backed up because the first one needs to take a left on this, the busiest main drag. Finally I get to turn right and pray the light 60 feet away stays green so I can bang a left, just in front of a car that I hope is actually going as slow as it seems. If I don’t, a minute of precious time gets wasted at the light, and I still have to play chicken to take the left.

Blind Catholic School Curve

A mere three blocks later I have to make a 45-degree blind  turn in the road and only then will I discover if  there is a backup of cars lined up at the next light, which is a block and a half away. There is a Catholic school at the corner of this intersection, so in addition to the small excited tots and parents hauling them and their infant siblings across the street between the waiting cars, there is a crossing guard with her dastardly stop sign holding up the traffic. Did I mention that this green light lasts about as long as it takes to say, “Please, I just need to get through this light,” and then it turns red? On a bad day I can sit at that light through four cycles and maybe move up a car length. When I finally get close enough to the light, I have to be merciless and go, playing chicken with the cars on the opposite side of the light who are desperately trying to take a left because they have sat through five light cycles. I only mention the school is Catholic because that corner inspires a lot of taking the lord’s name in vain, which is probably not in its mission statement.

Triple Stop Free-for-All

The next obstacle is the back up to the three-way stop sign intersection just before the high school entrance. Thankfully the dangerously unpredictable small children have been replaced by the teens who are walking much more slowly and predictably. There can be a line of 20 cars backed up on this last stretch. Once you finally get to the intersection, you get plenty of chances to play chicken as you nudge out into the intersection to take your turn before the person to your left or right does that “I’m riding the bumper of the person in front of me so you can’t get in, even though it’s not my turn” thing. There really is no defense against that move except to hope that just at that moment, a pack of teens will saunter into the road not looking, making the car slam its brakes. Finally a use for indifferent teen behavior!

Lawless Labyrinth

After dropping off my son and winding through to the back of the school, I need to weave through a series of turns and stop signs on some small neighborhood roads. At the four-way stop, I need to go straight, but I’ve learned to wait that extra half a second because apparently the stop signs don’t work here. As I watch the car approaching from the right blow through the stop sign, someone in the line of cars behind me thinks I’m texting and not paying attention and lay on the horn. For the record, I don’t text and drive, but please don’t ask me about that flask under my seat. If I don’t get clipped by a sign runner, I may get clipped by a car suddenly backing out of its driveway, another hapless commuter just beginning the race.

The Split Decision

I’ve now come full circle to a light I already went through, but I’m coming from a different street. I can either turn left and go back through Blind Catholic School Curve or go straight and head back to the busiest street. Technically, and I use that term very loosely, it’s a shorter distance by way of the Curve; however, city streets defy the laws of physics and distance rarely equals rate x time. Distance is irrelevant if the timing works. I make my choice, I’m going straight in to…

Main Street Mayhem Flats

At this light I need to take a left on to the main street. This intersection is shaped like a T so that would seem to be an easy left without oncoming traffic. However, there is another light at the next block which is not in sync with the first light, so as I turn left, I have to stop at the backed-up traffic at a red light. There is also a fire station here, and a weird lot in which a bus turns around, as well as an exit from a Walgreen. All vehicles from these outlets are jockeying to get into the fray, which is kind of pointless considering that in addition to red light I’m at, way up the street at the next light is another crossing guard wielding her dastardly stop sign and holding up the traffic. Still, this slow crawl is better than the Curve.

Paradise Lane

Once past the crossing guard, the next mile of my trip is fairly sane, only dealing with the kind of traffic rules you actually did learn in driver’s ed. But I have to beware to not get too giddy at this oh-so-brief respite, because coming up is…

The Widow(er) Maker

Just before I park for the train station there is an intersection that has five roads feeding into it, a train track bridge over it and the entrance and exit to the station next to it. Oh, and there is some station parking across the street from the entrance, so guess where gobs of people are trying to go when they are going to or leaving the station? Yeah, right. There are probably an infinite number of ways to die at this intersection. But it wouldn’t be because of the traffic light, which is actually pretty logical and timely, especially considering all the various cars and people who need to move through it. The problem is, of course the drivers. At this intersection I turn right, and yes, by law, I can turn right on red, but I often choose not to because 1) the bridge obscures the cars that are driving by until they are right in front of me, 2) it’s a very busy street and 3) people often dart in front of my car when the train is coming. Oh, but how the people behind me hate that I don’t turn! Never mind that I would merely be inching up to the corner and by then the light would turn green. The honking is early and often. I’ve learned to go to my happy place. But there is some justice in the world. One day, one of the honkers decided to take matters into his own hands and pulled out and around me, so that he could inch to the corner. There he sat waiting for a break in the relentless traffic. That was actually satisfying enough, but then a car drove by him and pulled up right next to the curb to let out a passenger. The passenger had barely shut the door, when crazy-mad-right-on-red driver hit the gas and rear-ended the other car. The passenger on the sidewalk raised his arms and yelled, “What the hell is wrong with you?” What indeed. As crazy man pulled over to exchange information, I cheerfully turned right with the green light, driving around them. It was better than a victory lap.

Hamphrey the Hamster Snoring

So I may have reached  a new low, had a stroke of brilliance, or just unadulterated desperation. Or all three. Work was so very busy this week; it ate my brain and gave me a touch of tendonitis, so even if I were able to think through the blog ideas I have, I couldn’t type them. So while I was panicking about what the heck I was going to post, our hamster, Hamphrey, started snoring. And it is reeeeallly cute. Of course I ran to his cage like someone possessed, pressed my iPhone to it like the paparazzi, and recorded his sound and, well, a visual of my lamp, which is across the room from his cage. I forgot to put the camera in selfie mode, but it wouldn’t have mattered. He was in his house. So instead you get to see my house. Hey, I pledged to post every week, I didn’t promise it would be any good.

So here’s hoping this little guy can save me this week. If you don’t like it, go find a cat video. Or, you can also read about his adventures in my previous post about him.

Hamphrey

 

Yes, and obviously I have no idea of how to size this thing, but it’s cute! He’s a hamster! He’s snoring! Pay no attention to tendonitis girl over there.

Short Takes Round Up (Or, I Didn’t Finish My Post in Time)

I didn’t have time to finish my usual post because I was too busy having fun saving the world, so please forgive me. Instead, I bring to you photos of random things I’ve come upon. Apologies to my FB friends who have seen these before, but maybe you haven’t seen them because FB keeps changing its feed algorithm. Also, am reusing and recycling, so if you complain, you’ll make yourself look bad. So there.

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I came upon this on my way to work walking to the train and posted “My! Looks like Barbie had quite a night last night!” That set off quite a spirited discussion, which ended with me initiating talks with the Mattel to launch two new lines: “Walk of Shame Barbie” and “Tart Barbie.” I’m sure they will call me back soon.

cicada

I also found this one on my way to work. I thought it was a killer bee, but turns out it’s a cicada, a word I can never say and always have to look up to spell. My sharp-eyed friends informed me what it was and also commented that they can be attacked by ginormous bees, while others named her and commented on the Chapstick. Using these prompts and nothing but my wits, I came up with this story, which I will turn into a picture book as soon as the Mattel deal is sealed.

“Despite the fact that Katie was self-conscious about her pointy butt and obsessed with keeping her face smooth with Chapstick, she was the kind of cicada who’d be the first to send you a get well card if you’d been attacked by one of those nasty ginormous wasps.”

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From earlier in the summer, these are the first “fruits” of my little patio garden. What the heck? I diagnosed it as “Butt Rot,” which must be a real thing because none of my sharp-eyed friends corrected me.

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I call this “Up Periscope”–the rest of the bush is pooped out from blooming all summer and the branches are like, “Aw, screw it, fall is coming, I need a rest.” Except Perky Pete at the top. This branch is like the four-year-old at Christmas trying to wake everyone up. “Guys! Guys! Check this out! It’s really cool!”

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And finally there’s this guy. This is the White Squirrel Saga. For a number of years there has been a white squirrel running around near my work, He’s kind of an unofficial mascot and a topic of conversation, like “I saw the white squirrel today,” and “What was the white squirrel doing.” Well not long ago, my coworker came in breathless to inform us she’d witnessed the horror of the white squirrel being devoured by a hawk. We were all stunned, but after a few moments of reflection, we realized that being a white squirrel, while entertaining for us, pretty much sucks for him. It’s like a sign saying to hawks, “Hey, here I am, come eat me!”  But there was hope, my coworker told me there was an other one, which I didn’t realize. So the next few days followed and we were content we still had a white squirrel left…until I came upon him flattened in the road. While I was standing there, mourning, a car (not the one that hit him) actually stopped, and the woman rolled down her window and yelled, “Oh no! The white squirrel!” Oh no, indeed. I duly informed my coworkers and now we were sad. Such a rare animal, our beloved mascot, and we’d been blessed by having two of them. A few sad days followed, until lo! I saw another white squirrel! There must be three of them. I reported back to my coworkers and we were jubilant until we, being fickle humans, started to think about it. Heck if there are three, that’s not very rare, is it? Maybe there is a whole family of them. What’s so special about that? OK, we did have that thought , but we came to our senses. Look at that face. We’re still rooting for ya little guy!