When I was a little girl my parents had a 55 gallon fish tank that resided in the living room. It had a variety of fresh water fishes that swam about including two very huge, big, gigantic Plecostomus’, several little crabs and a freakishly old Gold fish my sister won at the fair. I don’t ever want to have the responsibility of a fish tank. But what I’ve always wanted was to be a mermaid. I’d daydream as little girl that I lived with our little crabs and conspired with them on our fabulous escape to the ocean. I even went so far as to take this fantasy into my backyard pool. I would imagine a magnificent golden blue tail would appear that would replace my legs just as I emerged into our unkempt slimy pool. Occasionally my imagination was aided with an the ingenious prop of a pair of my mother’s nylons and I’d hold my breath underwater for as long as I could physically tolerate without actually passing out or drowning.
Have I mentioned that I’m a terrible swimmer? On top of water specifically. I can really only doggy paddle. I’d like to actually swim at my gym in place of cardio time on the f-ing stationery bike but for obvious reasons I can’t. I can’t recollect even learning how to swim, I just can. My family, as a whole, actually put together our above ground pool one summer in the 80’s. I remember helping my step father spread out the sand on the bottom like a big sand box and putting up the vinyl sides all day into dusk and then watching the garden hose slowly fill my heaven up. Our pool in its heyday was gloriously gorgeous and blue and fabulous. But as the years ticked on, my step father just didn’t put forth the effort required to keep it that fabulous blue. It really didn’t matter because I’d still swim in it anyway. Avoiding the truly slimy parts like you do in a lake or something. I remember a friend of mine came over to swim and the second she saw the science project that was our pool she suddenly remembered that her mother needed her.
I’ve always been drawn to water. I don’t care so much that I’m such a bad swimmer, it’s kind of my handicap I guess. I have absolute zero fear of drowning. I can’t even put into words the utter and total completeness I feel when I am blessed with time spent near or in water. This is why I love Scuba diving. My boyfriend’s father is responsible for introducing me to Scuba. I am forever indebted to him for this gift. He taught me how to escape to the ocean. I did have some pre planning with the crabs but truly he deserves all the credit.
Scuba is probably the most unattractive activity there is. The gear, the snot and sea water in your hair…. and I am not a naturally attractive girl I’ll tell ya. To quote Andy Warhol: “It takes a lot of work to figure out how to look so good.” But none of that matters to me underwater. I am living my childhood daydreams. I am a mermaid. During the first few years of diving I’ll confess that I convinced myself that I would lose buoyancy and soar to the surface uncontrolled thus leading to my head exploding. I physically held onto my buddy’s tank because of this scenario that I concocted in my big giant brain. Family members now refer to her as tow truck.
There is nothing more thrilling than watching brightly colored fish going about their business performing their fish busy work. Snacking on coral or chasing each other. Here’s something else really ridiculous, I am wary of Grouper. I honestly believe that they are the intimidators of the ocean. They’re like the mean girls. Looking all angry. A wise woman has instructed me to just remember that they are delicious and I should imagine them in their underwear.
Every year my boyfriend’s family takes a family Scuba vacation together and for the past several years we’ve been travelling to Belize for this trip. Belize boasts the second largest coral reef not to mention some of the most wonderfully warm and generous people. This past year my boyfriend and I went 5 days earlier than his family to dive the days following the full moon. During the months of March to June Whale Sharks migrate through Belize to dine on the eggs of spawning Snapper following the full moon.
These particular dives aren’t your typical coral reef or wall dives. You and your boat that hosts somewhere around 10-14 divers are dropped in the protected marine park called Gladden Spit in open water. And as a group you SWIM! Like a skilled scuba squad travelling quickly all searching together for schools of Snapper. These schools boast an attendance in the hundreds. Once you’ve spotted the school the trick is to keep your squad together and use your bubbles as additional bait to attract the Whale Sharks. The bubbles resemble spawning or something and that draws them in. What is so crazy is that you are swimming like the dickens in complete open crystal clear blue warm water and out of nowhere you descend upon other schools of other divers! At first it’s startling to be in an impromptu convention of divers and then it’s nothing but totally awesome. Everyone is there for the same goal. You could travel that long boat ride out to the reserve and do your dives and not see a thing but we did. Out of 4 dives we saw 4 whale sharks. These dives were actual bucket list activities. I was smiling so hard and no one knew it but me. Several people have remarked, “Weren’t you scared?” My answer is absolutely no. Honestly, Grouper are more frightening, those little bitches.
This year’s Scuba trip I dove 11 dives and some of them were truly beautiful. I saw a string of 13 Eagle Rays quietly soaring, hungry Turtles and sleepy Turtles, numerous Nurse Sharks, and a strangely curious and friendly green Moray Eel. So now after years of my ridiculous fear of losing buoyancy, problems with equalizing my ears, leg cramps, and the occasional sea sickness, I feel like I’ve finally got my wind. I felt seriously bummed on my last dive. I know that plans are already in motion for next year’s trip and now all I am doing is anticipating teal waters, fresh fruit, new fish friends, and unlimited air supply. Maybe I’ll even attempt befriending a Grouper, but I’m not promising anything.
I’ve always wanted to write stories about the people whom I’ve encountered throughout my life. I mean this isn’t like Nora Ephron kind of stuff I’m doing here but whatever. This first note was written by a co-worker to my boss after she interacted with a client of mine that I just gave a facial to. If you haven’t guessed it, I’m sometimes an esthetician. I would have forgotten about this if I hadn’t had saved this copy she had given me in my portfolio. The package she purchased was the most extensive & expensive. And by the way, my boss never said boo to me.
This second note I just got in the mail recently. When I saw it in the mailbox I was immediately intrigued because it looked like an invitation. It definitely wasn’t a bill and that was thrilling on its own. It’s so great and so random. I didn’t even remember who she was but the first thing I thought was, it’s probably Pearl Jam Ten because I’ve bought that CD like 4 times. Then it got me thinking about things that have I done that I still feel bad for? Eh, I don’t know… I thoroughly appreciated the apology. It totally made my day and made me smile straight from my liver. If you’re wondering, after some serious consideration, I kept the $30 bucks.
* NF=Neatfrances=Me & Names were clearly removed or edited for obvious reasons
The other night while searching for something to digest on TV I discovered a documentary regarding the life work of the Serbian born “Grandmother of Performance Art” Marina Abramović. It outlines her life work as she explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind. In 2010: The Artist is Present exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art - Marina physically placed herself sitting immobile for 736 hours from March 14 to May 31 while participants had the opportunity to sit opposite with her. The other portion of the exhibit was a collection of past works and recreated works by chosen, trained artists.
Throughout my years of museum visits I have never appropriately absorbed “performance artist” pieces. Performance pieces always make me feel uncomfortable. Which I now believe is part of the point. I was feeling something unknown and because I experienced a vulnerable emotion I pushed it away. These feelings were supposed to have been conjured and I should have considered them. Obviously a life lesson.
Unbeknownst I have encountered 2 pieces of her work. Probably more but memory is hard to recollect as useless thoughts, events, and hunger litter my cluttered mind. Most recently I attended the Seattle Art Museum exhibit: Elles: Pompidou which was dedicated to 75 female artists. There I did consider one of her performance videos: Art Must Be Beautiful. http://youtu.be/8cCFDSzDnUk Consider it I did. For exactly 30 seconds. I am ashamed. The second piece was a reenactment of her 2002: The House with the Ocean View. I’m sure you remember it. It appeared on Sex in the City when Carrie first meets Aleksandr Petrovsky. http://youtu.be/5JvdsNpkMcU Carrie’s initial reaction of giggling and sass is exactly how I have behaved when presented with these unusual and difficult to comprehend pieces. It’s how I always respond to unprepared feelings. I now going forward will be taking the time to be more present to feel.
The documentary is an incredibly profound honest and powerful use of time. Marina is an extraordinary artist. She is her work. Her life has been art. She is and has contributed to this blue planet of ours in a way no one has. She is beyond inspirational. I have been so moved by her and all I want to do is eat up everything that she has done. Check it out and let me know what you thought. If not for me do it for her.
You know it’s been a couple of months since I’ve made an entry and I would like to continue placing blame on blog writers block however today I think I figured out what my issue is. The blame is me and the simple fact that I don’t like sharing personal information. It’s clearly behavior drawn on my adolescent relationship with my mother but thankfully for you that’s not what today is about.
So the obvious question is, what the hell was I thinking making a blog? Over the past couple of months I’ve written a handful of bloggings that I deemed unshareable and hid them away in a folder on my computer. But I’m pretty sure I put them there because do I really want you, my 6 followers, or some random passing stranger knowing private personal stuff about me? I guess. I started blabbing my big giant mouth. I started posting it to Facebook. It’s like when you are in love with the absolutely wrong person and your heart just simply won’t listen to your brain. I think that’s what I gotten myself into when I started this. So being a woman who finishes something she’s started here is my sort of monthly issue regarding me and the evil that is the gym.
I hate the gym. It is the only place on the entire planet where I am unsure of myself. None the less my thirties have delivered what every person over the age of thirty has previously advised me and that is, your body just isn’t going to be what it used to be. And, haha, just wait till you’re 40.
Next month I turn 37 and since entering my 30’s I’ve gained hard earned, sometimes bittersweet insight into my life and a really neat additional 17 lbs. I absolutely do not recognize myself undressed. My boyfriend said not that long ago that my rear end has gotten bigger since we met. After the sting to my ego and the shock wore off I said …. “yeah.” I have with little effort until recent times been lanky and thin. I am still lanky but now I resemble a snake that has swallowed a generous varmint.
Honestly I’ve been more interested in my mental self-discovery and living a purposeful life. This life I claim to be living is filled with constant poor eating habits. Eating habits inspired by the four major Elf food groups of candy, candy corns, candy canes, and syrup. So I’m continuing my purposeful existence of self-control and taking care of myself with a goal of losing 15 lbs and attainable realistic eating habits of which I have implemented toot sweet. I quit smoking 10 years ago and some people have said that quitting smoking is like overcoming a crack addiction. It just takes self-control dammit. This self-control of which I clearly am capable of demonstrating.
So this 37th year I am entering into will be me hastily sharing from the heart, figuring out my body with sustainable physical activity and retraining my elfish brain to healthier eating habits. As I stand behind my blog premise about my street smarts it appears as if you are along for the ride as it is in motion. Please remember to pack Dramamine and DRI-fit polyester.
Last week I had a friend ask me if I had a role model and how this person influenced my life. I frantically searched every corner of my big giant brain and at the time could only come up with one. It was a girl who sat at the back of my school bus when I was 7. I was picked up last on my Wisconsin rural bus route which made seat picking as much fun as when Forrest Gump attempts to find a friendly seat. My role model was a high school girl with aqua net teased giant hair everywhere, classic motorcycle jacket, black fringe boots, punk rock, boredom inspired doodling on her binder, and a TON of makeup. I loved her. And she always let me sit next to her. I can’t really quite remember if I spoke to her. I just quietly crept and secretly obsessed.
So since that conversation I have still been contemplating who is my role model? Well I know that I still find myself obsessing over women. The woman who is different. The woman who is self-reliant. The woman who knows exactly who she is or at the very least is certainly aware of who she wants to be. The woman who has suffered and scratched her way out with her dignity barely hanging on. The woman who supports her sisters. The woman who is kind. The woman with a sense of style. This is woman who I strive to be every day.
I don’t really think that anyone really wants to know that they are someone’s role model. It’s a pretty daunting concept. All women in general are my role models. I know you know who these women are in your lives. Strangers, acquaintances, even your frenemies. I would like take the opportunity to thank every woman in my life because I still watch and learn from you every day. Your sacrifices, your risks, your selflessness, your mistakes. I apologize if you’ve noticed my creeping. Please take it as a compliment. I need you and for the sake of my future contributions to this life, please god, let me sit next to you.
With quite a helping on my life plate lately and a dash of blog writer’s block, I leave you with a scene from one of my most quoted movies. I personally have applied this eloquent advice that Garth provides Stacy to help me through a handful of tribulations or perhaps you’ve heard me sass these words to you after you so heart-fully replayed a personal life quandary. Please consider the avenues of which these poetic words transcend the typical romantic relationship. Its simple. Its to the point. Its clearly powerful stuff.
My cat Stinky owns me. He’s the devil in angel’s fur.
Stinky arrived in my life along with his brother Phatty in the late nineties. My roommate at the time obtained them against my wishes from her cousin and then left them behind when she decided to hike the Appalachian Trail with her boyfriend. She generously took the all the rent money, my new vacation clothes and left all her crap behind including the two - 2 year old male blue point Siamese cats. She was a real gem.
Being the soft hearted gal I am I became their new senior staff member. Stinky and Phatty, originally named Joey and Calvin, were brothers and inseparable. They never answered to their original names and earned their new names over time. Stinky because clearly he was the trouble maker and Phatty because he could eat and eat he would. If you are doing the math in your head you are coming to the conclusion that these cats are around 16 years old. Well Stinky is. We lost Phatty in 2007 to cancer.
When Phatty, his primary companion and best friend, died I believe Stinky died in a way too. Siamese cats are known for their vocalization and Stinky began to meow. Relentlessly and constantly. There was no stopping him. In addition to the excessive meowing he started pulling most of his fur out on a regular basis and stopped eating. One of the most frequently used sentences in my house was and still is, “shut up Stinky!”
The year Phatty died I lived next door to a very lovely German couple. One day while exchanging pleasantries Frida askes me in her very think German accent, “vat is your boyfriend’s name?” And my initial thought was, oh my god, was he swearing in the driveway at the diesel truck or did he break something of theirs? My response was “why, what did he do?! “ Frida replies, “Oh, I just hear you yell, shut up Stinky!” And I said, “oh no… that’s my cat!” I’ve never laughed so hard and been so embarrassed in all my life. Even the neighbors weren’t immune. To either of us apparently.
A lot of veterinary visits, pheromone experiments, and finally a replacement companion, New Buddy, and we find ourselves years later. And guess what, he still meows. Primarily in the wee hours of the morning. You’re sleeping soundly and bam! The most awful screeching noise that makes your stomach turn into a nauseating knot will jolt you awake! Sometimes, just to keep you on your toes, he’ll choose to make this noise when you’re trying to make a phone call or need to concentrate on something. I feel terrible for overnight guests and friends who have had to endure this noise. I myself have not had a sound night of sleep in over 5 years! I’ve surrendered to the fact that yelling gets you absolutely nowhere. Now I try to practice patience thinking he’ll eventually come to his senses and be quiet. In addition to the meowing he pukes on my shoes, he’s the sheddiest creature known to god’s green earth, he won’t let you brush him, he won’t let you clip his claws, and he makes me leave the bathtub on constant drip so he can have fresh water. If you don’t do this you will suffer the consequences.
How can I still tolerate such an animal? Why have I not turned him out into the mean unforgiving streets or worse euthanized this poor creature? It’s simple. I love him unconditionally. He’s so cute. He looks like Brad Pitt if Brad Pitt was a cat. He’s got the funniest walk, the softest ear fur, and he is the best cuddler. I worry about him when I’m not home and shudder to think of the day he won’t be wrecking my life. This is either some kind of karmic spiritual test of will or an example of pure devotion. We’ve been together for so long. We’ve lived in at least 10 houses, shared several relationships, career changes, death, sickness, and happiness. He has been my oldest companion. Lord knows you’re thinking, this chick is just a crazy cat lady and that’s all. Well touché. But in my defense its worth knowing I am capable of such a commitment. The commitment of owning a cat. Oh excuse me, I mean the commitment of being owned by a cat.
My big giant brain has still been processing the gorgeous sound of Jack White and his all-female Peacocks last night at the WaMu Theatre in Seattle. It was a random discovery while reading a Portland newspaper. I sort of tried blowing off the suggestion from my boyfriend but none the less he kept bringing it up. So I hit Craigslist and we met some guy in a parking lot and off we went with 2 tickets for $80. If you are currently a fan of the living legend you no doubt are jealous. If you haven’t seen him may I suggest you immediately Google the Blunderbuss tour straightaway and get your asses there? I found myself in brief captivating moments where sound and sight meshed and a true magical experience occurred. It was by far the loudest and best show I have ever seen. God bless my boyfriend and god bless Craigslist.
My first actual live music show was New Kids on the Block in 1990 at Alpine Valley in East Troy Wisconsin. Keep your comments to yourself please. NKOTB was my first love. My father thoughtfully brought my sister and me. This was so stellar at 14 because not but a few months prior all my friends went and my mother did not allow me to go because I was too young. What a guy!
My most inappropriate attire worn to a concert was to Marilyn Manson just before he really hit it big in 1996. I saw him at a small theater in Milwaukee Wisconsin. I wish I could remember the venue but I do remember I had bought my ticket by saving Camel Cigarette C Notes, most of which I stole from a bathroom at a random house party with my roommate at the time. The theater was small and intimate and I wore a white mesh like cropped sweater… To Manson people! I saw Manson 2 more times since. The second time was the summer following the white sweater incident, also at Alpine Valley, the 3rd time was at The Eagles Ballroom several years later in Milwaukee where I accidentally drank too much and missed most of the show. What I do remember is the naked girls dancing on stage in go go cages. I can’t remember the year either because of the accidental over consumption and all. And to think about it more clearly they we’re naked, just looked like it. There might not have even been dancers. Best time ever.
The worst show I ever saw was Bon Jovi. I’m not even gonna bore you with the details. I only went because I wanted to spend time with some dear friends of mine that I never got to see. A total waste of $75. He kept displaying his derriere which engulfed the crazy screaming women with some kind of satisfaction. It was so queer. Alright sorry, some details were necessary.
My most memorable show was 2006-ish which was one of the dozen or so Dave Matthews shows I’ve seen with my sister. We got seat-seats not lawn-seats because the year before we witnessed drunken spectacles that truly scarred us for life. It was a really hot humid summer day at Alpine Valley and we got really big frozen strawberry margaritas in the shape of a guitar and as the sun went down on our backs our with cold drinks in tow we smiled at the genius of seats and the blissful peace that was about to descend upon us. This was the first year Dave played the sister song. A song of which still brings us both to tears. I’m tearing up now just thinking about it.
My biggest show regret was in 1997 missing INXS because of a roommate dispute over a car. It wasn’t but a month later that Michael Hutchence was found dead in his hotel room. (sigh.sniff.)
And the craziest show I’ve ever seen was GWAR. I’ve only seen GWAR 3 times. That’s some crazy fucking shit. (Pardon my Wisconsin French) They are metal, they are obscene, they are graphic and they are totally entertaining. A large part of the show consists of lampooning, decapitating and similar death-ish activities of politicians and celebrities that result in you, the attendee, being cummed, bled, and slimed on. One Halloween at the Eagles Ballroom, Slymentra Hymen (the only female member) came out of retirement and spit fire into the audience. It was breath taking. If you haven’t seen them you need to Google Gwar and get your asses there too.
These memories played like a movie montage last night all the while I was unable to sleep because of the ringing in my ears. I can’t wait for Lana del Ray to come to a local venue near me. Oh you heavenly tar black souled angel!