Category Archives: Divorce

Confessions of a Lazy Bostonian

Boston just celebrated another Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the Fourth of July. People come from all over the country to be here and experience the concert, the 1812 Overture with Boston’s ringing church bells and firing cannons, and of course the fireworks. For a number of years, the event was even nationally televised, which I was proud of until I realized it moved the fireworks to be an hour later to synchronize with other nationally televised fireworks, like those in New York. Why do I have to get home at 12:30 or 1 am because some poindexter television programming executive thinks New York fireworks are more important? When the televised contract wasn’t renewed, I breathed a sigh of relief that the fireworks could return to the earlier time slot, and I could get squished home in the human river of attendees at a decent hour.

But the funny thing is, I haven’t made it down to the Esplanade since then. Which reminds me, let me apologize to all the tourists who find our names unpronounceable. On Thursday I was by the river near where the concert and fireworks are held and a tourist couple asked me, “How do you pronounce that place with the fireworks, ‘Es-play-nade’?”

For the record, it’s pronounced “Es-pluh-nod.” And that’s the same with or without the Boston accent. Then they wanted directions to that place with the shops and restaurants that begins with an “F”. Ah, Faneuil Hall, another hard to pronounce/remember word. I pointed down the street and told them to go that way, and then to ask again in a few blocks. That’s my strategy rather than trying to explain how to get somewhere with roads that twist and curve unhelpfully and the term “city block” is more of a quaint suggestion than a useful measure of distance.

But back to the Fourth—when I was younger, my friends and I would go in groups—different groups of friends for different years, and we each had a favorite strategy or place to see the fireworks from, based on years of trial and error.  The main objective for all of them was to swoop in around 6 or 7 pm in a place that wasn’t wall-to-wall people, have a bit of time to socialize and eat, then watch the concert on the big screens they set up for anyone not actually sitting in front of the stage, see the fireworks, and get out. Two intrepid friends actually kayaked and watched the fireworks on the river. Two others braved the all-day-on-the-oval experience. I’m a trooper, but that’s too hardcore even for me. My idea of a good time does not include being stationed all day in one spot guarding the boundaries of your blanket against enthusiastic patriotic encroachment.

The first year I didn’t go down to see the fireworks in person was when my son was just four months, and I couldn’t face the sheer amount of stuff I would need to bring him. Not to mention I was still a new enough mother that I couldn’t guarantee that I’d be able to quiet him if he decided, being a new enough baby, to howl like he was getting murdered. But as I watched the fireworks on TV that year, it so awfully paled in comparison to seeing them in person, I vowed like Scarlett O’Hara to never miss them in person again. And I didn’t for a long time.

But then the friends began to scatter and in the pre-during-post divorce years I didn’t have the energy to throw myself into that party of more than 100,000 people. I do have my Bostonian pride, though, and told myself I’d get back to it once life had settled. And then I moved to my current apartment up on a hill, and I discovered I can actually see the fireworks in the distance from the end of my driveway. So life is now happily settled, and I’m finding it really hard to make good on my promise. I could be talked into it, but there is no one to do it—my friends still scatter to other places for the Fourth, and my teen son prefers to stay camped out at his computer until the fireworks come on, when he’ll join me at the end of the driveway to oooh and aaah.

So I feel a little guilty that people come from all over to see this, and I was lazy and stayed home. But at least I didn’t watch it on TV, and if I’m being perfectly honest, I selflessly made room for an enthusiastic out-of-towner to have a grand time on the esplaynade. What’s more patriotic than that?

Tokophobia, or June Is Bustin’ Out All Over

I don’t know if it was the long winter all on its own that did it or that the long winter delayed people shedding their layers, or both, but something made me forget the hallmarks of spring—pregnant bellies. Suddenly I’m surrounded by them, and there seems to be waaay more of them this year than usual. I’m not one of those women who looks wistfully at a pregnant woman and trots out an out-of-focus montage of memories fit for a Hallmark channel movie. Nor do I wish I could go back there again. No way. I had one and done, and since then, I think I have become tokophobic, that is, having the fear of pregnancy—I love that there is even a word for it. I was going to make up gestationphobia, but tokophobic is way better.

As my son gets to be an older, more independent teen, my fear also seems to be getting worse. Or is it really just that the bellies are everywhere I turn this spring? Curse the nice weather! I look up on the train, belly in the seat across. Walk from the station to work, three of them are bearing down on me. The third one is even more frightening—she’s pushing a stroller with a kid already in it just ahead of the belly. Dear, god in heaven, have mercy! A walk at lunch reveals the same. I was lulled into a false sense of security when I walked by the river after work, and was blissfully accosted by leagues of runners, all of them non-gestating. But then I rounded the curve in the path and saw the belly and her partner talking to another pair, post-belly, with their offspring in a stroller. I nearly jumped into the river to keep from getting pregnancy cooties.

I don’t have anything against pregnant woman, as I was one myself, and procreation is generally the way to go from an evolutionary point of view. It’s more like I have an irrational fear that I will catch it from them if I get too close. This happened once before when my son was only about three and three women in my office got pregnant, one after the other. In an office of only 25 people, it was kind of alarming, and those of us who weren’t pregnant nervously joked that there must be something in the water. I switched to bottled beverages. I knew I was a prime target for a second child, and I had my hands and heart full with one, so I didn’t need any extra risk, thank you very much.

And the truth is I am the kind of person who would also have been fine not having a kid. I’m glad I did, just as long as you don’t ask me about the baby and toddler years, or when my teen hasn’t taken out the trash….again. I have no nostalgia for the pregnancy—five months of fighting nausea with my only weapon: eating and ultimately hating every cracker known to mankind. Meanwhile the pregnancy books mocked me with their grossly small and unfair estimates of how much weight I should be gaining and when. Those books ain’t for women who are nauseous morning, noon, and night—“morning” sickness, my ass. You eat to keep the feeling of puking at bay and then you gain 30 pounds out of the gate. I looked for the pregnancy book to validate that little fun fact for me, but I couldn’t find it.

But it’s more than the pregnant bellies that terrify me. They remind me of the countless stories of the “oops” baby women have later in life. Although I imagine you can only have an “oops” baby if you’re not as phobic as I am. But still, it’s the proximity and the idea. Here I am, happily post-divorced, and on metaphorical Boylston Street in the Boston Marathon. I can see the finish line, where my offspring will head to college and find life at-large way more interesting than at home. And I can do all kinds of interesting things beyond ensuring my kid is interesting. And cue a … baby? Sleepless nights, spit up as a permanent accessory, and the cuteness that can kill.

And that’s the thing, isn’t it. Mother nature knew babies can be a royal pain in the ass, so she made them like crack or meth. The highs and lows are insane. One minute they are wailing as if you are trying to murder them and the next minute they smile and giggle and you’d do anything for them, including accessorize with spit up and not sleep.

I prefer my no-talking, easy-going, game-playing teen, thanks very much. So, pregnant women of Boston, don’t taking it personally if I dodge you or move away. I’m just embracing my tokophobia and saying no to pregnancy.

Some Post-Muthah’s Day Thoughts

I know Mother’s Day was last week, but I was busy with Jesus Christ Superstar, and as I’m a muthah 365 days a year, I didn’t feel the need to rush. Also, there is so much Mother’s Day lovers and haters hoopla now on the internet, I’m only just now poking my head out over the motherhood sandbagged front line to see if it’s safe. A ceasefire seems to have been called. At least until May 2016 or the next “Lean In to Tiger Mother Hidden Dragon” book.

I hold on to things, I admit it. It’s not my best trait, but there it is. When my son was about four, all I wanted to do for Mother’s Day was go to IHOP for breakfast. That’s it. But my kid being four, he wasn’t really into it. I got that time-honored whiny lament, “There’s a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, but when is it Kid’s Day?” To which every parent on the planet will say, “Every day is effin’ kid’s day, you little S.O.B.!” But when your kid is four and has an overdeveloped sense of fairness based in concrete words, it’s hard to explain. I should have stayed home and made myself breakfast (screw everyone else, it’s MY day!) and enjoyed myself. But that seemed too much like giving in to my kid’s complaining, so what’s the right thing to do? I have no idea, but it definitely was not what I ended up doing—drag us all to IHOP, wait for 45 minutes to sit down, and then have a silent, crabby breakfast, while my kid refused to eat anything. I know, right about now my parent’s generation is shaking their heads, and everyone who parents better than I do is rolling eyeballs and running to a computer to write their new blog, “10 Things Today’s Parent Are Doing Completely, Utterly Wrong, Please Arrest Them.” You’ll have to forgive my choices, I get confused a lot because I’m either being accused of being too permissive or I’m not being protective enough; honestly, it’s hard to keep track.

But I digress.

So that Mother’s Day was pretty much a disaster. Then my then-mother-in-law moved to be closer to us, so Mother’s Day became focused mostly on her and my own mother. I was more the coordinator for celebrating the senior mothers, and that was OK. Because honestly, every year all I could think about was that miserable hour and a half spent trying to have breakfast and being painfully reminded that mothering is hard. And perhaps it’s even harder on that day when you’re supposed to be “honored,” but more often than not you’re glaring at your incredibly ungrateful offspring over a giant stack of cooling pancakes and congealed bacon.

It was my coworker who set me straight. Near Mother’s Day  a number of years ago, but a decent number of years after “The IHOP Incident,” I was recounting said incident and explaining why I didn’t really like to make Mother’s day plans. My coworker, also a mother, waited a moment, then looked me in the eye and said, “Lucas was four. You gotta let that go.” And she was right. The story had taken over every opportunity to do something different.

But then I got divorced, and there’s nothing more awkward than the years of  pre-during-post divorce Mothers’ Days. This year I was finally able to at least contemplate a baggage-free Mother’s Day, and when another coworker suggested a trip to the beach for ice cream, it sounded perfect. We used to live around the corner from the beach, and now we live two miles away, and you know how that goes. I know people who travel hours to get to the beach want to slap me right now, and you’d be absolutely right to do so, which made it all the more reason to go.

On Friday before Mother’s Day, my son said his sci-fi appreciating English teacher recommend a movie, “Ex Machina.” I’d read a review of it in the newspaper (how old school of me, I know) and thought it sounded cool. Then because I seem more inclined to read reviews and not get my ass up and out to actually see the movie, I promptly forgot all about it. But Lucas was up for seeing a movie with his old ma, so that’s what we did, and then went to the beach for ice cream. Perfect.

That’s the Facebook version.

The real version is we went to the movie (which I highly recommend if you’re into movies that look at the morality of creating an artificial intelligence in a mind-twisting way) and then we had a brief but significant discussion about the ending and the consequences of the characters’ actions. Anyone with a teenager will understand that is like winning the parental lottery. Significant, meaningful discussion. About emotions. With a teen. Yeah. Then we went to the beach for ice cream , and by that I mean we crawled 5 miles an hour looking for a parking space. We found a 15-minute one, pulled over got the ice cream and made it back to the car in 14 minutes. Then we pulled out and proceeded to crawl 5 miles an hour to the end of the beach and then headed home. I did get to see and smell the beach and had ice cream with my kid with nary a whine or glare. Perfect.

Photo credit: Sanctuary Yoga 

How to Survive Spring Cleaning? Have Rockin’ Sibs Who Like to Get Their Clean On

For the past several years, my family has gotten together to do a big spring cleaning at my parents’ house. And when I say “family,” I mean my three siblings have done it. I managed to have perfectly legitimate excuses for the first years, you know, blah, blah, blah my son was having trouble in school and then I was getting a divorce. I might have milked that one for two years—pre, during and post-divorce is very time-consuming, you know.

Unfortunately, my life took a turn for the better, and I finally ran out of bad life events last year, so my Catholic guilt required me to sign up for the annual cleaning. And then I got lucky and a bad life event happened to my sister and she injured her knee. She needed more help than my parents, so we cancelled the weekend. My brother was a trooper and helped my parents out a bit and then headed to my sister’s to help her. It was a real sacrifice…for me.

But my sister’s knee is much better and here it is spring, and the cleaning weekend had once again cornered me.

It’s not that I don’t want to help my parents, it just seems I lack the proper genes. We come from half Dutch/Germanic stock—that pinnacle of orderly cleanliness, and somehow in the random genetic distribution, my three siblings got that gene that gives them satisfaction from cleaning, combined with a perfectionist streak. I seem to lack the genetic predisposition for both. When I must clean, I subscribe to my French Canadian grandmother’s method used at her little summer lake cottage. She’d “pass the vacuum,” meaning you just vacuumed in the places people can see. At the cottage the vacuuming was mostly just to pick up the very visible sand we kids tracked in from being in the water all day and running in and out of cottage for snacks and drinks. And I’m OK with that.

But my sibs…their genes make for some excellent cleaning abilities, ones I am embarrassed to admit I have benefited from and haven’t really reciprocated. Many years ago, my sibs and my mom came to the condo my then-husband and I had just bought. They cleaned it and babysat Lucas, so we could have a weekend away. They did a repeat performance just a few years ago when my son and I moved into an apartment that the landlord hadn’t had time to clean between tenants. They came and cleaned like pros for some take out and a couple of laughs. How lucky am I?

So I had to show up at my parents’ house. To make up for my less-than-perfect cleaning skills, I offered to bring food for dinner and my sunny personality. They know better, but were nice enough to accept anyway.

And a funny thing happened on the way to the familial homestead. I actually had fun. Cleaning. With my family. After pondering it for a bit, here are my top reasons why:

  1. No mandates. Unlike holidays, which can be forced marches of traditions, some you hold dear and others you would dearly love to chuck out the door, the cleaning weekend had no tradition, just a reasonable list of things my parents needed done, to be completed at your own pace. Huh, go figure.
  2. My two sisters, my brother and I all have different, non-overlapping skill sets. This seems to be key. You could imagine how the weekend would explode in a family where, say two expert bathroom cleaners would fight over whose toilet is more sparkling or two handy siblings would try to outdo each other fixing the roof, nail guns leveled at each other. We’re a pretty balance village:
    1. Julie is the Renaissance woman. She dusts and cleans and sews and looks up a new toaster oven for my parents online, takes my mother shopping for new rugs, listens when my mom says she needs a new bed, and cajoles my dad into washing the bed linen.
    2. Sharon is the bathroom cleaning queen and floor cleaner extraordinaire. With her serious arsenal of cleaning products and rubber gloves, she is a force to be reckoned with. She fearlessly laughs in the face of filth.
    3. Mark is happiest moving around, hosing down and cleaning carpets, doing yard work, fixing anything in or outside the house. He’s a one-man, lean, mean fix-it machine.
    4. Me? I wasn’t sure exactly what I could do, until my brother just suggested I pick a room and have at it. So I did. I dusted knickknacks, cleared out the cobwebs, wiped the frames of about 12 of my father’s paintings which cover most of the walls. I blew the dust off hundreds of books on three bookshelves. Then I became one with the cleaning and started moving furniture from against the walls and vacuumed behind, under, in corners. This was no “pass the vacuum” stint—this was the real deal.
    5. Together Sharon and Mark combine their powers, like the Wonder Twins from the SuperFriends cartoon in the 70s and 80s, and they tackle the kitchen floor. I gamely offered to help, but Julie shook her head silently at me in that “do what I tell you” older sister way. I knew to leave it to the experts when the Wonder Twins got into huddle and had a serious discussion about the right kind of floor wax to use and what stores carried it.
  3. You gotta have music—I played the Donna Summer radio station on Pandora, so mostly I was singing, dancing and cleaning. Best dance moment was when “Do the Hustle” came on, and barely missing a beat, my two sisters and I reached back into our gym class training from the 70s and performed a decent rendition of the dance steps. So, for the record, we did learn at least one thing useful in high school.
  4. You gotta have music part 2. I was cleaning the counter and chatting with my Dad and he started talking about how he knows all the words to Dean Martin songs, so I changed Pandora to that station and had fun listening to my dad sing along and jump up and do the rumba and Foxtrot. Forget Jagger, he’s got the moves like Astaire.
  5. Dazzle ‘em with your best foot forward and then run like hell. I gave my sibs fair warning about my lack of abilities/faulty genetic material/”passing the vacuum” ways. But I got into a grove with the living room, and then moved onto the den, dancing and humming. I got to the kitchen windows and they did me in. I’m not sure if it was because it was the end of the day or it’s too hard to dance on a step-ladder. Luckily it was dinner time and my sibs were all exclaiming how much work I’d done and I was way better than I said. Boy did I ever fool them! The next day I reverted to my old ways. I skipped vacuuming a whole section of the room between the bed and the wall that you can’t see from the door. The raised eyebrows when I confessed to “passing the vacuum” told me it was time to get a head start on the traffic and make a quick exit.
  6. My childhood cleaning muscle never went away. Just before I attempted the bedroom, I did vacuum the stairs like a pro. Why? We all had assigned areas of the house to clean as a kid and the stairs were part of mine. I started at the bottom and my body went into autopilot cleaning mode. This muscle memory does not seem transferable.

So there you have it. After years of dreading it, I finally showed up and had a decent time. I got a very strong reminder of how lucky I am to have parents who are still able to have a house we can clean and to have genetically enhanced cleaning siblings. See ya next year guys!

Photo credit: http://speedcleaning.com/category/spring-cleaning/

It’s Nothing Personal

So here I am four years post-separation and marriage. During the summer I amused myself by getting reacquainted with girlie things—dresses, shoes, and those whatchamacallits…oh, yeah, accessories. I couldn’t quite pull off sexy, but I got and had a lot of laughs. Summer slipped into autumn and winter is nearly upon us, and even though the girlie dresses are getting cold, I still want to wear them. Out. Somewhere. With sincere apologies to Keats, I now find myself slouching towards dating Bethlehem. I’m still not interested in actual dating, but I’m interested in the idea of thinking about maybe seeing what might be out there. Makes me a perfect catch, don’t you think? I am the consummate researcher and thinker, which, for your information is absolutely very different from a procrastinator. I’m a writer, I know the nuances of language better than you.

In any event, I realized I’m in a good position to evaluate the personals. What do they look like compared to when I answered my ex’s personal ad in the Boston Phoenix, Boston’s alternative weekly newspaper, more than 25 years ago? Of course the internet and apps have intervened in the interim, but I limited my research to just personals because 1) I’m too lazy to actually create a dating profile on a site like Match.com, 2) I’m still scarred by my friends’ stories about how brutal and dishonest these dating sites are and 3) I’m not quite ready for an app like Adult Friend Finder—no explanation needed for that I think, except to emphasize that the technology allows you to meet someone RIGHT NOW. No judgment and call me old fashioned, but I just like to get a drink or two and dinner first.

So where to go? Craigslist personals, that ubiquitous, democratic, free internet space that provokes pretty much the same response from people as the Boston Phoenix personals did 25 years ago. Mild shock quickly followed by admonitions to be careful of all the murderers on there. The similarity was downright heartwarming. So far so good! I plunged on with my research, and here, dear reader, is my take on personals then and now:

The Phoenix had the regular personals and a section where sex was a main feature. I believe it was hip enough to also have the basic categories for gays and straights. Craigslist has nine sections and within in them, evidence of the wonder of human variation and preference. Since I’m kind of boring, I stuck with two, “casual encounters” and the “men seeking women.”

All I remember from the Phoenix was that the personals pretty much sounded all the same. The guys liked dinners, movies, and walks on the beach, which was pretty useless—what kind of food? What kind of movies? My ex’s ad actually had specifics, which made him stand out. Now? Holy acronym Batman! LTR, BBW, HWP. Within minutes I was Googling “Craigslist acronyms”: long-term relationship, big beautiful or black woman, height-weight proportional. And that’s when things really got interesting. At one point I forgot I was looking to see if there was anyone I maybe wanted to think about contacting because the specificity is fascinating. This ain’t no dinner and movies crowd.

First there are all the attributes. Ladies, if you get discouraged about all the ways the media reinforces ridiculous standards of beauty, just go to Craigslist—fair warning you are going to see more pictures of men’s junk than a porn site and the fetishes are rampant, but once you get past that, you will find guys looking for BBW, bubble butts, big breasts, small breasts, requests that a woman have a little meat on them. Tall women, petite women, single mothers, HWP, geeky women, tiny waists with big hips. Something called “thick” which even the guides can’t agree on. I thought it was maybe somewhere between HWP and BBW, but then I saw a picture of a “thick” example, and I thought she was actually HWP, so what do I know? I guess the poster will know it when he sees it. Of course there are the straight out requests for being hot looking and thin/athletic. But there are not as many as you would think, and the guys claim to be the same. And that has been going on since Adam was hoping for a hot babe who was an independent thinker and had healthy eating habits.

When men do make very specific or even wacky requests, they often apologize for it and explain they don’t mean to offend, it’s just what they prefer, which I found kind of touching. Sure they may have gotten flamed by some pissed off women or they are simply savvy marketers. But I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s a nice touch.

The details included in the personals turned out to be my downfall. I stopped looking for myself and got lost in my writer’s curiosity. I tend to be attracted to guys who make me laugh, and so don’t really have a type. How do people get such specific types? For example what is it about a bubble butt that gets you going? Honestly, thank goodness they included a picture, because I wasn’t even sure what that was. Of course the pictures, clearly of real people, got me started on a whole other line of thought. Where are these people now? Do they know they are a Craigslist poster girl for a ______ (fill in the blank). Then I think how many women actually respond? How many of a type can there be?

Which of course brings it around back to me. I’m happy for all the women out there whose type is being called out and worshipped (a lot of guys promise to worship these various parts). But then that means I have the opposite, but equally annoying problem of 25 years ago when the ads were too vague. Then it was OK, we both like movies, but what if I like “Equalizer” and you like “Her”? Now I have to figure out where my body fits into the acronyms. I can knock out the extremes—I’m proudly not fit or athletic. Which is just as well because the guys who ask for a fit or athletic woman always list their hobbies as hiking, running and all manner of exercise—ugh. I tend to gravitate to the guys who talk about food and wine. Also, I’m not a BBW or a bubble butt. My breasts have never been big, and thanks to my recent weight loss, they have actually gotten slightly smaller (you really can’t win sometimes). I have big hips, but my waist ain’t anywhere near tiny. It actually was a while before I encountered HWP, which shows you how many requests there are for just a regular gal—not many. I guess they are all on Match.com.

Once I could tear myself away from these fascinating guys and their requests and I decided I was HWP, I started lurking among this small number of ads. I could eliminate at least 75% of the guys off the bat. They are in their thirties or younger, and I’m not quite ready to be a cougar (although that is not an infrequent request).  Of the remaining men, there are the people who are looking for love and long-term, while others are uncomfortably honest (married seeking same). A few are just liars/too creepy if true. One guy claimed to be very successful and was looking for someone to travel with him on his boat and winter in Florida. Um, I was just looking for dinner, wine, a few laughs, and home by midnight, thanks! And that leaves me about one possibility every few weeks. And even at that point the general rule of Craigslist is that half the time, people will flake out on you and not show up.

So through very careful, research, combing through pages of original documents, I have come to a very scientific conclusion about dating today versus 25 years ago. It ain’t any easier, whether you are looking for an LTR, an Adult Friend, or just looking for dinner, wine and a few laughs. But at least if you have been hiding your Craigslist lurking habit, you can tell people you only know about it because you read it here. You’re welcome. The girlie dresses can wait until spring.

Photo credit: Glamour.com, “Here Are a Few Not-So-Solid Dating Tips From the 1930s”

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

Why Do I Always Have to Be the Oldest One in the Room?

Remember that entry about how I had to go to the kids and divorce class and I was the oldest one there and most likely the only one there who recognized the video tapes as a form of media? Well, I should have predicted that it wasn’t going to be any different in the actual divorce court. My soon-to-be ex and I appeared on our appointed day, for the afternoon shift. The instructions said to come at 3 pm, which we did, but it was like waiting for the doors to open at a show—everyone was in the courtroom and there was a long line of people waiting to get checked in at a desk near the front. How did these people know to show up earlier? Had they done this before? There was a court session from 9 am to 3 pm, so I had figured there was no point in coming earlier—the court would have had people from the previous session in it. As we became the last people to get in the line, I hoped this wasn’t first come first served. I was grappling with that idea when I noticed the youthfulness of our fellow court mates. Then the judge began to call us forward two by two, like some sort of demented Noah’s ark. She confirmed—out loud—each couple’s marriage date and the date they last lived together. She made the two people state their names and affirm that they had read and agreed with the terms of their divorce, and then she pointed out any problems in the agreement. The marriage dates rang out—2009, 2011, 2007.

I looked around the room. No gray hair, not even any covered up with blonde dye. At 49, I have already been having some small anxieties about age, especially as it relates to my career. Boston is full of start-ups which is very exciting to think about as I contemplate my next job; however, a few informational interviews revealed there is hardly anyone over the age of 30 working at these places. I was starting to feel not just old, but worse, irrelevant. I was still struggling with this new information, so I was not happy to also have to face it in my personal life. Here I was awash in young people who clearly had thought marriage was something else, or maybe they had mistaken the wedding for marriage, or maybe the statistic I read was true—that 30 percent of people who get married know before the wedding they are marrying the wrong person and do it anyway. As I did with the children and divorce class, I wanted to jump up and tell them to get back in the ring—did they think life was a fairy tale and there was a happily ever after? 2005, 2008. Finally there was a couple who got married in 2002—she wasn’t my age, but closer than the rest. I wanted to run over to her and kiss her, but I don’t think the stern looking court officer would have approved. And just as I was calming down, I heard, “Married October 2012, stopped living together April 2013.” Whaaat? What this some kind of Vegas wedding? They looked younger than 20. I wanted to punch them both. Then I wished every person in this country who claims that gay marriage degrades a “time-honored institution,” would sit in divorce court for 10 minutes. We straight couples were doing a pretty good job of destroying the institution ourselves. The judge called us up. “Married in 1991, stopped living together in 2011.” I wanted to answer with a championship game-winning fist pump—THAT’S how it’s done, people—but I think courts frown on that sort of thing. I wonder if it would work at one of those no-one-over-the-age-of-30 tech startups?

Photo credit: The Guardian