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[about the author]

i actually like speaking in front of large crowds. freakish, eh?

i work crossword puzzles in ink.

i am the american nigella lawson. or maybe the american eddie izzard. can't decide, really.

i would be a really good mom, but i'm cool with being a really good aunt.

i am sometimes more perceptive than i would like to be.

i am fiercely loyal. sometimes, stupidly so.

i never play dumb. never.

i am way too hard on myself.

i am a change agent.

i sometimes cross that fine line between assertive and aggressive.

i am not afraid to tell people that i love them.

i am militantly pro-choice.

i am pro-adoption.

i know a little bit about alot of things.

i typically enjoy the company of men more than women.

i am capable of being really mean and nasty, but i fight it. hard.

i am a lifelong cubs fan. do not laugh.

i have been known to hold a grudge.

i have hips.

i am not my sister.

i am lousy at forgiving myself.

i am an indoor kind of gal.

i am a bargain shopper. to the point of obsession.

i am 32 flavors. and then some.

[the ones people ask about]
Rittenhouse Review
Investment Banking Monkey
Cheap Ticket News
iPhone News
Hotels and Travel News
Latest on Retirement Planning
Consumer News and Reviews

[in case you were wondering]

[the blogger behind the curtain]

[100 things about me]

[the old stuff]


<< current

[all content copyright 2007 by tequila mockingbird. seriously.]


god help you if you are a phoenix...
[ed. note: i wanted to share this story because everyone sees the photo of the house on fire, but no one comes back the next day. the truth is, the fire isn't the worst part. it's the days after. and, so, to those people in california who are now facing their days after...this is dedicated to you.]

i don’t really know what’s going on in the world right now.

this is by design.

see, to know what’s going on in the world right now, i’d have to read the newspaper. or watch television. listen to the radio. at the very least, look at cnn.com.

but i’m having a hard time with that right now.

it seems that every time i look at a newspaper or the television, i see an image splayed out in front of me.

red and orange flames engulfing someone’s home.

or just the black and gray remains.

i remember the day it was my house. on the front page of the newspaper.

i couldn’t look at it then. i can’t look now.

that's not meant as an indictment of anyone who looks. i’m sure people who look say, “god, that’s horrible.” that’s what i used to say. or sometimes i’d say, “i can’t even imagine.”

and that’s probably the truest thing. you can’t. you can’t imagine. until you’ve been those people. until you’ve been standing there, dazed, looking at what used to be your home. you left there this morning, and everything was fine. you were going to make lasagna for dinner. you set the vcr to record. you stripped your bed so you could wash the sheets tonight.

everything was a perfectly normal day. and then...it was as far from perfectly normal as it could be. you can’t imagine.

i don’t have to imagine. i remember. i can't forget. i will never get over it.

i know what it’s like to leave for work and, by lunch, that suit you’re wearing is the only thing you own. and somewhere inside your head you’re thinking “thank god i wore my best suit today.” i know it sounds funny, but, the mind, when faced with something inconceivable, focuses on the oddest things.

like, “i don’t have a toothbrush. how am i going to brush my teeth?”

you think about things like that so you don’t have to think about other things. things like the fact that everything you had written in those twenty-something years is gone.

and so is that photo of your grandfather in his navy uniform. and his ring.

and the pearls your grandmother wore the day she got married.

you don’t think about the fact that your dog – although referring to her as your “dog” doesn’t come close to capturing the bond the two of you had – is dead. not because she wasn’t smart enough to get out – she was so smart it was frightening. but because she was so fucking well-behaved that she wouldn’t claw through the screen on the patio door and get out of the burning house.

you left the patio doors open – it was a beautiful spring day, and you lived in the kind of neighborhood where you could do that sort of thing. no glass to keep her in. just the screen. she weighed 90 pounds. it would have been like slicing through warm butter with a sharp knife. but, instead, she just sat there in front of the screen door. barking for someone to come and let her out.

if anyone had gone to the backyard, they would have seen that the patio door was open. they could have let her out so easily. but no one went into the backyard.

not even your neighbor.

the odd guy. the one with the really tight jeans and the very dark tan. he drove that firebird with the t-tops and lived with his mom.

he used to bring her bones sometimes. he’d come over and talk to you when you’d take her to the lake to play frisbee. he got a kick out of watching her chase ducks.

he could hear her barking that day.

he told the firemen, “you let this house burn down if you have to – she can get another house. but she can’t get another dog like that one. you just get that dog out!”

when they told him to stand back, he walked away. then came back with a sledgehammer from his garage and tried to break the front door down. he was trying to get her out.

they arrested him.

she was the neighborhood dog. a dog like no other, even though everyone says that. my doorbell would sometimes ring, and i would open the door to see a group of smiling kids on my porch.

“can molly come play at the lake?”

those same children came to find me again in the days after the fire. they brought me flowers they had picked from the edge of the lake. the first signs of spring, tied together with a piece of ribbon. they told me they were sad that molly had died. that they would miss playing with her at the lake. and they gave me money…a jar filled with pennies and dimes and a few bills. all their savings.

“to get a new molly,” one little girl said.

but we all knew there wouldn’t be another molly. ever.

i remember what it’s like to try and think of what it is you need to do first. you need to call the insurance company. so, you look up their number in the phone book. they close at 2:00 – only 20 minutes from now – so the woman who answers isn’t terribly excited that you’ve called.

“i, um, i need some help.”

“what kind of help?”

“well, i’m a policyholder, and…um…it’s my house. there’s been a fire. i need to speak with my agent, please.”

“i need your policy number.”

“well, i’m afraid i don’t have that in front of me. can’t i just give you my name?”

“i need the policy number.”

“well, i don’t have it. it’s at the house. which is still on fire.”

“hold on.”

you can hear her covering the phone and talking to someone.

“he says that if there’s anything still left of the house you need to go to lowe’s and get some plywood and board everything up.”

“who says that?”

“your agent.”

“can i speak with him please?”

“he’s getting read to leave. hold on…”

more talking.

“he wants to know what kind of fire it was.”

“a house fire.”

“but what kind?”

“the kind that burns your fucking house down, kills your dog and destroys everything you own. now put him on the goddamned phone.”

that’s when my dad took the phone away from me.

in the end, the insurance company was no help at all. no one came to the scene with blankets to wrap around my shoulders like they do in the commercials. no one did anything at all, really. my agent told me to call claims. the guy at claims said, “i really usually only work auto claims. um…can you just stay at a hotel or something?”

i had to sue them to get them to pay me.

before it was over, i was questioned by their investigators.

“we’ve been informed that you’re a dancer.”

“what, like a ballerina?”

“an exotic dancer.”

“what?! who told you that i’m…wait a minute. what the hell difference does it make? do strippers have some tendency to burn down their houses and try and defraud insurance companies that i haven’t heard about?”

“well, we need to know these things.”

“no, you don’t.”

i moved into my parents’ house. i had no money. i had no clothes. i developed a psychosomatic cough.

for months, i would look at a skirt and think, “that would be perfect with my black leather boots.”

then i’d remember: i don’t have those boots. they burned up.

or i’d spend an hour looking for a book. or a pair of earrings.

i’d forget sometimes.

we were able to salvage a few things from the fire. although at first i clung to them, they eventually became unbearable reminders of what had happened.

to the casual observer, they seemed perfectly normal. but when the air got damp, they told their story.

it was the smell.

you can never get rid of it. you can never forget it.

when the air gets damp, they release the smell of your life in flames. the smell of what it means to be without. what it means to be scared. to feel entirely alone and disoriented and lost. even when you’re surrounded by people who love you.

the smell reminds you that everything is fragile.

nothing is guaranteed.

it can all be gone.

and this is its curse.

and this is its blessing.

in the years that followed, i have developed an unusual relationship to things. i’m a packrat. i keep things. all things. small things. large things. things that others would throw away. it’s not materialism in the most traditional of ways, though. it’s holding on to the stories of the things. the representation of a life that things are. because i remember what it’s like to have nothing. to lose all the pieces of your life that represent your memories and your experiences.

all the valentines.

all the ticket stubs.

all the things that aren’t really things at all, but something bigger.

but, as much as i have come to be fascinated by these things, i have become freed of them as well.

for, if they were all gone tomorrow, i now know how to say, “they’re just things. i’ve been without them before, and i can be without them now if i have to.”

i learned so many things from my experience. practical things. but bigger things, too. things that changed who i am and how i live my life.

but, even so, i wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
| [tell me about it] | [link to this entry]


is that an electrified eiffel tower on your head, or are you just happy to see me?

trust me, honey, it's an electrified eiffel tower on his head.

so, i headed out to the high heel race last night. and i didn't see a damn thing because of the eight gazillion people standing out in the freezing rain blocking my view with their damned umbrellas.

but, a totally fabulous queen did grab me and say, "oh, honey! you are a doll! you look adorable in that hat! and your scarf -- honey, is that burberry?! i knew it! tied up there so cute around your neck like that. all right, girl! oh, and those lips! sweetheart, you are scrumptious!"

so, despite the total absence of making out, you gotta think that's a pretty good evening. 'cause everyone knows that drag queens don't offer that sort of praise lightly.
| [tell me about it] | [link to this entry]


what a drag
unfortunately, i don't really have much time to write today. or yesterday.

but, i couldn't let the sun go down today without saying:







words just don't begin to describe the joy i feel. okay, well, they might begin, but they don't really fully encompass the joy i feel.

so, here's the funny thing:

i would totally make out with eddie izzard.

and not in a "just because he's there" kind of way. i mean, i really want to make out with eddie izzard.

and not just because it's been almost a year since i had any real makeout action, either.

that's right, people.



[ed. note: please send all makeout candidates and/or suggestions via email. asap.]

but, here's the weird part...as if saying "i have a mad passionate desire to make out with that english transvestite comedian" isn't the weird part. right. what, you don't think that's the weird part? okay, try going home to southern west virginia for your high school reunion and saying, "this is my transvestite boyfriend. he's a comedian. and british. well, i say 'british,' but, technically, he was born in yemen."


the weird part is i mostly want to make out with him when he's dressed as a woman. when he's dressed as a guy, i don't want to make out with him nearly as much. i mean, it's been almost a year...let's not pretend...i would most definitely still make out with him dressed as a man. dressed as a poodle. dressed as a sleestak. because he's so smart and funny. and smart + funny = a guy i'd like to make out with.

but, it's just not as overwhelming a desire when he's not all trannied out.

in related news, i'm heading out to the annual dc high heel race this evening.

hope to have some pictures to share tomorrow. yep, i should be able to take plenty of photos since i won't be busy making out with anyone.

| [tell me about it] | [link to this entry]


the first rule of blogorama is…
that you must post about blogorama.

the singular julian was kind enough to organize a blogorama get-together for dc area blogger-type people. so, hats off to julian…and to his purple crushed velvet suit.

the second, only slightly lesser known rule of blogorama is that if sid says that he’s going to meet you a half-block away from the bar and you’re going to go in together – naked – you shouldn’t wait naked outside in the cold night air for him, because he’s not coming.

the third, even-slightly-lesser-known-than-the-second rule of blogorama is that if you want to be a pimp, you need to always ask yourself: wwvjd? velvet jones would have made sure i got andrew’s contact info. come on, man…step up your game. i’m in a slump. i need a professional pimp here. [ed. note: sorry my total tech dorkness led to the annihilation of your entire post today. egad.]

the fourth and…oh, you get it, and i’m tired of typing it…rule of blogorama is that it’s really funny to say “that’s how i met my woman…er, my girlfriend…i mean, my wife.” as long as your wife isn’t there.

fifth: you can still flirt with a girl, even if she’s sitting on a couch. seriously.

in the interest of time, and in the interest of not worsening my carpal tunnel syndrome, let me just say that i had a great time at blogorama, and met some terrific folks, a few of whom are listed here:

the wasylik clan: mike, his lovely wife dineen, and the most amazingly well-behaved baby on the planet, alex.

the dynamic duo: tiffany and tom

the tattoo-less [for now] wolfgang norton

the amazing andrew. whose sense of humor is every bit as good as his hair. i hope.

the infamous lex. [having met him, i think the stories might be true.]

and, of course, the new kid on the block, matt. who is the best cheerleader a girl could ever hope to have.
| [tell me about it] | [link to this entry]


lucy in my face with wax strips
as a general guideline, i don't like really thin eyebrows. it scares me. sort of like the fact that there's a second joe millionaire, or like seeing footage of john ashcroft and trent lott singing.

there was this woman, linda, who worked with my mom. when i was young and i'd sometimes stop in to visit my mom at work, i would find myself totally mesmerized by linda. despite the surroundings - she and my mom worked at our local k-mart - i always thought she looked like something out of the movies. in retrospect, it was probably more like something out of dynasty, but i was young and all i knew was i'd never seen anyone so joan-collins-glamorous in real-life.

she always wore boots with high heels. her hair was dyed black, and cut chicly short. she wore cowl necks sweaters and shoulder pads. she wore shawls. she had rings on all of her fingers, and her nails were always shiny and red.

linda's makeup must have taken hours. there was contouring. there was highlighting. there was careful color-coordination. i imagined a detailed chart with clearly labeled areas. indices of specific color and product information. perhaps even cross-referencing. i imagined a lighted vanity covered with bottles and brushes and powders and puffs.

and then, there were linda's eyebrows.

or, i should say: there were not linda's eyebrows.

apparently, linda had removed her eyebrows completely and drew them back on every day. they were, literally, pencil-thin and arched so high as to give linda the look of being perpetually surprised by what you had to say. even if you were just saying, "hi, linda," she was surprised.

i sometimes imagined what linda might look like without her eyebrows painted on. wondered if she ever got in a hurry and found herself standing in the produce aisle at fas-chek suddenly realizing that she had forgotten to draw them on the way i would sometimes forget to put on my second earring. i even wondered what linda would do if there was an emergency and she had to get out of bed in the middle of the night…did she draw on eyebrows for nighttime, just in case? i tried to imagine linda sleeping while looking surprised.

sometimes, i would go home and look at my own eyebrows in the mirror, trying to decide what i would look like with linda's eyebrows, and what she would look like with mine. mine were nothing like linda's pencil-thin caramel arches. they were thick and dark, and, as they were always kind enough to keep their distance from one another, i'd never really done much in the way of plucking. sure, i'd latch onto the occasional stray every now and again, but, for the most part, i felt that my eyebrows suited my face just as they were. and, truth be told, leaving them to their own seemingly harmless devices seemed a much safer proposition than inadvertently ending up with no eyebrows at all due to overzealous plucking.

but, sometimes, a woman gets to a certain age…usually 30ish…and thinks that there are all kinds of things that she has never done that maybe she should do. like, oh, i don't know…wax her eyebrows.

what possesses us to think these things, i cannot say. maybe it's the deluge of magazine articles telling us that the "right eyebrow" can totally change your appearance. make you look younger. more polished. more pulled-together.

and it is this warped thinking that brought me to speak these words:

"hey, lucy…maybe we should wax my eyebrows?"

i remember the moment clearly. i was lying on the table during my last facial, lucy's expert hands having performed all manner of torment and torture on my skin. there was exfoliation. there was steaming. there was the part where she looked at my skin under a gigantic magnifying glass which makes me want to curl up into a ball and hide. and, of course, there was the dreaded extraction.

remember how you used to pick at your face - using nothing but your fingers - and your mom would screech at you saying, "don't pick at your face! you'll scar it! oh my god, leave that alone!" well, now, as an adult, you get to pay $95 for some girl to take a metal device and squeeze all over your face - even in places where your skin seems perfectly okayfine -- until your eyes water and your scalp sweats and they call it "extraction" and i'm just thinking "how can this be okay?!"

so, in an effort to make conversation and distract lucy from looking at my pores and noticing that i've stashed jimmy hoffa in there, i utter the words "wax" and "eyebrows" in the same sentence.

lucy assumes the position over my head. she looks at me from every possible angle. i close my eyes so i don't have to see if she's making any faces like, "wax?! we're gonna need a weedwhacker first."

and then i hear her. she's talking more to herself than to me.

"hmm. interesting."

"interesting?" i ask, opening one eye.

"hmm." she's running her thumbs over my eyebrows.

"lucy? what's interesting?"

"well, your eyebrow here," she said, stroking my right eyebrow, "it's perfect."


"it's perfect. the perfect eyebrow."

my heart soared. my eyebrow. perfect. all these years of careful and prudent non-work. years of restraint, years of resisting the urge to experimentally pluck. perfect. somewhere inside of me i felt an enormous sense of pride in my perfect little eyebrow.

"that's awesome," i said with a satisfied smile.

"mm-hmm. but this eyebrow…" she trailed off, running her fingers across my left eyebrow.

oh no.

"it's thinner."

and, true to my female psyche, i said, "you say that like it's bad. when was the last time something being thinner was bad?"

"well, it's thinner than the right one, so they're not symmetrical. so we're going to have to thin the right one."

and she started smearing warm sticky wax under my perfect right eyebrow.

"what?! but you said the right one is perfect!"

she was using some sort of stick, drawing a line into the depths of my once-perfect eyebrow.

"it is. but the left one isn't. and you want them to be symmetrical."

she was pressing a strip of white cloth into the wax.

"no. no, i don't. i mean, isn't it better to have one perfect eyebrow than no perfect eyebrow?!"

"not if that makes them asymmetrical."

she was running her fingers across the cloth, pressing gently.


"trust me."

and then, with the swiftness of merciful death, she pulled.

"oh my god!"

i walked out into the afternoon sun in a daze, sure i could feel my pulse throbbing in the now exposed brow area over my right eye. as i turned toward the metro station, i caught sight of my new eyebrows in the plate glass window of the salon. i stopped, taking a closer look to see if all the pain had been worthwhile. if i suddenly looked younger. more polished. more pulled-together.

and while i was disappointed that i didn't look any of those things, i was very pleasantly surprised to find i didn't look surprised.
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the lowdown...on the down-low
so, i'm laying low at work. which makes blogging at work a little tough. and blogging at home is still an impossibility, as my pc is officially kaput and i've recently been expending my expendable income on booze and earrings instead of saving diligently for a new pc.

so, yeah. that's a challenge.

but, the consultants are off-site tomorrow (yippee!), so check back for either a story about my eyebrows, or a the earlier-promised halloween story.

and, hopefully, not a story about how i got shitcanned.
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for toni
i couldn’t sleep last night. at first, i thought it was because of the stress i’m feeling at work. my boss has been summarily canned, and they’ve brought in a team of consultants. it doesn’t look good for my coworkers and me. we think we have until the end of the year before we’re completely outsourced. between you and me, i think we’re being optimistic.

but, even though work was on my mind, you kept creeping up on me. i couldn’t stop thinking about you. and i think maybe it was really because i was thinking of you that i couldn’t sleep. and that it wasn't work at all. and i was wondering if maybe you couldn’t sleep, too.

i wondered if you could hear me laughing. when i thought about that time you, meg and i got “sick” after our new boss acted like a complete bitch. about how we all left the office and went to your apartment and ate junk food and laid around on the couch and watched chick-flicks and drank and talked about how much we hated her, and how awesome we were.

then, i thought about how we used to go to step class, and how we would lie on the floor in the back during the ab workout and whisper about whether we wanted to go to baskin-robbins or pizza hut after class, and how the instructor gave us the evil eye, but we didn’t care.

then, i thought about that time we got so drunk that we tried to steal that giant trash can by grabbing it and putting it on top of the company car, and how hard we laughed when we tried to make our getaway and it came crashing down, rolling off the back of the car.

and the time that you and runyan came over to watch a scary movie and max was so excited to see you that i had to call the emergency vet clinic and ask them how to make a dog’s “thingie” go back in, and how hard you laughed…not because of poor max’s condition, but because the vet yelled at me for calling it a “thingie” and then hung up on me because i wouldn’t stop laughing when he said “i believe the word is penis.”

and how that guy said that i was "sex on a plate," and we laughed so hard we couldn't breathe because, come on...what does that mean? and then you made that plate for me that just had the word "sex" on it in huge letters. i still have that plate, you know.

and i was hoping that you could hear me laughing, but that my laughing wasn't what was keeping you awake. but i'm sure that wasn't why you couldn't sleep.

and then i noticed a tightness in my chest. and at first i wasn’t sure what it was, but i think it’s a scream. and it’s rattling around inside me, bouncing up against the base of my throat, trying to decide exactly what it is that it wants to say.

i think it wants to say that it’s not fair. that you’re too young. that you have a wonderful and kind husband. that you have a beautiful and amazing little boy. that you’ve been so strong for your father and your brothers since your mom died, taking such good care of everyone. that it makes me angry that cancer took your mom before she had a chance to see trent come into this world and to see what an awesome mom you are. that it’s indescribably wrong that she’s not here for you now. to help her young, beautiful, phenomenal daughter fight cancer herself.

and then i was thinking that today, right in the middle of the day, i’m going to go outside and i’m going to think really hard about sending some clouds to you. not the rain cloud kind. i’m talking about big, fluffy clouds. mostly white, but maybe just a little pink. or maybe even sort of iridescent, like abalone, so they'll change color when the sun glints off of them. and they’ll be shaped like animals. or maybe like a marching band. and you can hold trent up and say, “trent, i know you’re too young to know what ducks are, but look at that cloud! it’s shaped just like a big pink duck!”

and you’ll know that i’m thinking of you. every minute of every day.

and a few years from now, when you and trent are sitting outside on a bright autumn day just like today, talking about whatever moms and sons talk about, he’ll say, “mom, remember that time we saw that cloud shaped like a big pink duck?”

and you’ll say, “i do. and there was a hippo, too.”

and trent will look at you with a puzzled look on his face, and he’ll say, “weren’t you sick then?”

“i was, sweetie. i was very sick. but, i’m just fine now.”

and you’ll pull him tight against you and hold him close, smelling his hair and kissing his forehead before he gets too old to appreciate just how wonderful that is.
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so much for that halloween story
my boss, um..."resigned." overnight, apparently.

and, i swear, i never told anyone here about the i shot the sheriff incident.

so, it's been crazy here today. what does that mean for you? no halloween story, that's what. at least not today.

so, today's lame post is in keeping with the spirit of a line from my favorite scene from lost in translation.

charlotte: "i tried to write but i hate everything i write. i tried taking pictures, but they were so mediocre. i guess every girl goes through a photography phase. you know, like horses. taking pictures of your feet."

taking pictures of your feet?! man. that's funny.
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do not attempt to adjust your monitor
it's supposed to evoke a scary-blair-witch sort of ambience.

it's seasonal. for halloween. see how it says "boo"?

would it make it easier to live with if i promised a halloween story for tuesday? see, i'd promise a halloween story for monday, but, you know, i have a three-day weekend to deal with. poor me.

a seasonal logo. man...i'm just a step away from novelty sweaters and little light-up bat earrings.
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heh heh...he said "snatch"
growing up in west virginia, i became pretty accustomed to relatively low production values on our local newscasts.

these were not anchors who were one step away from breaking on to the network scene. although, matt lauer was a reporter at one of our local stations, i believe. not that he would admit it.

and the stories were often stretching the definition of "news" pretty far.

i remember watching the local news one evening when the "big" story was a local pumpkin festival. the reporter on the scene was doing his best to hype up the festival, standing there holding a heaping plate of funnel cakes while mullet-wearing kids with dirty faces waved madly in the background.

"so, come on down to the milton pumpkin festival! it's a great time, tom!"

so, we go back to tom, smiling there behind the anchor desk, and he says, "that's bob aaron down at the milton pumpkin festival, which runs through this weekend."

and we fade to black, going to commercial.

but the commercial isn't ready to go. and the mike is still on. but, of course, tom doesn't know that. so, we hear tom, in one of those contrived announcer-type voices say:

"like anybody gives a flying fuck."

that was the kind of excellent entertainment you get with local small-town newscasts. you just don't get that kind of fun with the network guys. i mean, when was the last time you heard peter jennings say "flying fuck"?

so, although i expected to hear random stuff like that from my local newscasts back in west virginia, i sort of thought things would be more professional over here in dc. and, for the most part, they are. on a typical evening, i hear teaser spots for the eleven o'clock newscasts like:

"israel takes action against syria...join us at eleven."


"local residents protest sales tax increase...the story tonight at eleven."

so, imagine my surprise last night when i hear this teaser for my local newscast:

"two bad guys drive around...tryin' to snatch people."

in addition to being highly amused, i got a little homesick, actually.
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with this ring, i me wed
the first time i saw it must have been in a magazine. probably instyle. although i think it was during the 90s, so there’s a good chance it was a bridal magazine. i had a “phase” with bridal magazines in the late 90s. i was fascinated by them. despite the obvious fact that i wasn’t getting married. i just loved the pictures. the dresses. the flowers. the cakes…especially the cakes. i think it all has to do with just loving a good party.

at any rate, there was an ad.

like most girls, i have had a lifelong relationship with jewelry. there’s the tiffany baby bracelet that someone gave to me before i was ever born. of course, my mother, believing strongly that jewelry on babies is creepy, never put that on me.

then there’s the cross pendant with the diamond cluster at its center. that one was first communion.

at twelve came the charm bracelet, with its tiny bicycle.

sweet sixteen saw a ring with a creamy pink-hued pearl and two sparkling diamonds.

high school graduation brought my first pair – okay, my only pair – of diamond earrings.

and, of course, there was the ring. the ring he put on my hand when he asked me the question.

it wasn’t a big stone, but i remember thinking that was probably for the best, since i have relatively small hands. i’ve always appreciated the fact that i have small hands, although i have often wished that my ass would follow their lead.

at any rate, despite its relatively small size, it did have one saving grace: it was perfect. literally. flawless. it had the brilliance of stones twice its size, and in those first weeks, i often held my hand outstretched, watching the prisms dance across the wall as the sunlight skipped across my ring.

thinking about how he loved me. and how everyone would be able to tell by looking at my hand.

after the divorce, i put it in back into its black velvet-lined box. i haven’t looked at it once in the more than ten years since.

i took to wearing silver after that. i liked the way its cool sheen contrasted against my olive skin. i thought it looked sophisticated. i thought it looked modern, and liked to think it was some sort of representation of me becoming a different person after my divorce. but, the reality was, it was the only jewelry i could afford.

over the years, i’ve probably flipped past hundreds of jewelry ads, never stopping for a second glance. but, when i saw this ring, it stopped me dead in my tracks.

i loved it. everything about it. the simplicity of it. the clean lines. the bulk of it. and, of course, the diamonds.

and i started to think about the boy who would buy me that ring. and how i would gladly let him buy me that ring instead of a traditional solitaire. how i would snuggle a simple platinum band up against it, and how it would look on my hand.

i tore the ad from the magazine and slipped it into a drawer. i made a mental note of the designers’ names and set out to find a store near me. i had to see it in person.

and when i did, it was clear: it was made for me. destined for me. i loved it even more in person than in the picture. the way it felt – it had incredible weight to it. the way it caught the light.

but i couldn’t afford it.

i tried it on in several stores over the years. i felt like a young arthur, pulling excalibur from the stone – it sang to me when i slipped it on my finger. and, of course, eager to sell such a pricey bauble, the clerks always chimed in with “oohs” and “ahs” and “it looks beautiful on your hand.”

once, i tried it on when i was with a boy who i thought would buy me a ring. would give me a token of undying love and a promise of happily ever after. but, he didn’t. he didn’t particularly like the ring.

“it’s nice,” he said.

maybe the fact that he couldn’t hear it singing to me should have been a sign.

later, i found the ring again, in a jewelry store just up the street from where i work now. but, at the time, i was jobless and only wishing. i couldn’t resist trying it on, though, despite the fact that i felt like julia roberts in pretty woman when she first tries to buy something in that chi-chi beverly hills boutique. the men behind the counter took their time waiting on me, sure i was a “looker” not a “buyer.” as i admired the ring on my hand in what was becoming a familiar ritual to me, the man behind the counter gave me the bad news.

“if you like it, you’d better buy it. we won’t be getting any more. they filed for bankruptcy.”

it was true. the designers had parted ways. gone out of business.

i could feel it slipping away from me. the idea that this ring was destined for my hand. that i would one day have a diamond and platinum ring on my hand. well, that ring, anyway.

i saw the ring in one more ad after that. i tore it out and placed it in the drawer along with the first one from years before. i remember thinking that was as close as i would ever get.

then, while visiting atlanta this summer, my friend, mike, asked me to go shopping with him. he was going out of town for the weekend with his girlfriend, and wanted to dress-to-impress.

“i need your style advice.”

i was happy to offer it, especially since it gave me a chance to cruise through my own personal nirvana: the neiman marcus outlet. oh, i’d heard rumors of the existence of such stores, but they were a rare beast, and spending the day shopping with mike at the outlet mall near his house offered me a chance to see one up close and personal.

mike was well on his way to being a sharp-dressed man, and i was loaded up with all means of candles and cosmetics when we headed toward our final stop: the saks outlet.

i had sent him off to the fitting rooms to wade through the armload of shirts we had culled from the racks.

“i’ll be up front.”

“near cosmetics, no doubt.”

“no doubt. i do love the lip gloss.”

after a quick tour of the cosmetics department, i headed toward accessories to wait for his return.





fine jewelry.

and there it was.

my ring.

i couldn’t breathe. couldn’t believe it.

i had to try it on one last time.

“excuse me, could i see something out of this case, please?”

“i’ll have to get a manager for you.”

“i’ll wait.”

two women, the younger of whom might have been 65, came and stood beside me.

“oh, those are some lovely pieces.”

“yes, they are. i wonder why they’re at the outlet store.”

and, with that, i told them. the whole story. about my ring and how i had seen it years ago. about how much i had wanted it, but no one had ever come along and given it to me. about how this would be my last chance to try it on because they weren’t making it anymore.

after i had stopped, one of them reached out and put her hand on my arm.

“sweetheart, that’s your ring. you were supposed to find it here. it was just waiting for you.”

“absolutely,” chimed in her friend. “you are going to try it on, aren’t you?”

“yes, one last time,” i smiled.

“well, are you going to buy it?”

“oh, you have to buy it!”

and, although it sounds impossible to believe, i hadn’t really given serious thought to the possibility. all these years, i had been waiting for someone to come along and give me that ring. why? because, that’s what girls do. we wait for a boy to give us a diamond ring. we might buy ourselves other rings, or other baubles, but, a diamond ring?

i had worked so hard all summer, traveling and living out of hotels. my primary goal had been to earn as much overtime and bonus money as i could, all in an effort to keep my financial head above water. the rent on the apartment i had shared with mark was more than my salary could pay…i needed every cent i could get. and our conversion project had come along at just the right time, allowing me to make my rent payment until i found a new place to live.

“can i help you?”

it was the manager.

i stared at him.

mike was standing at my side now.

“what’s up?”

and i told him – and in doing so, told everyone standing around the case. how this was my ring. how i thought i had lost it, but here it was.

one of the elderly women put her hand on my arm, “try it on, honey.”

but, i needed to know what i was up against first.

i looked at the manager.

“is this the only one you have?”

“yes, these are the last of them. they’re all one of a kind now.”

“so, if this one doesn’t fit, you don’t have another size in the back?”

“no. this is the only one.”

i turned to mike. “if it doesn’t fit, that’s it. it can’t be resized – the diamonds go all the way around.”

he smiled at me. “and if it does fit?”

i looked back at the manager.

“if it does fit…it’s destiny.”

the women crowded just a little closer, leaning in to watch.

the manager slid the key into the lock, opening the case. he took the ring out and held it toward me, sparkling under the halogen spotlights.

“i can’t. you do it.”

i held my hand out toward him as he slipped the ring onto my finger.

a perfect fit.

before i knew what i was saying, before i had time to talk myself out of it, before i passed out, the words were out of my mouth.

“i’ll take it.”

i think a small cheer went up from the crowd, but i can’t be sure.

as i leaned against the counter while the clerk rang up my purchase, mike looked concerned.

“i think you’re hyperventilating. but in a really cute way.”

"am i insane? what do you think? do you like it? am i crazy?" i managed to ask through my hyperventilation.

and mike, in that way that only mike can, smiled at me and said exactly the right thing.

"i don't think i've ever seen anything more perfectly you."

and that’s how it came to be that i spent money i didn’t have on a ring that didn’t exist anymore. it’s been almost six months now, and there isn’t a day that goes by that i don’t look at it and smile. that i don’t take a moment and admire it, turning my hand to watch the light dance across the stones.

and, although it is beautiful, it’s not really about the diamonds. or the platinum.

it’s about how long i waited for it. how hard i worked for it. how i finally gave myself permission to get it for myself instead of waiting for someone else to love me enough to give it to me. it’s about the simple pleasure that comes from doing something nice for yourself without guilt. without remorse. with pure, unadulterated joy.

and, even though i wear it on my right hand, i get questions and comments.

“your ring is stunning – is it a wedding ring?”

“i love your ring. are you married?”

“gorgeous ring…you must have made someone really happy!”

the truth is, i did.

and sometimes i hold my hand out in the sunlight, watching the prisms dance across the wall as the sunlight skips across my ring. thinking about how i’ve finally come to love myself. and wondering if anyone can tell by looking at my hand.

ed. note: although it doesn't really capture it, and although this post probably isn't really about the ring, here's a shot to satisfy your curiousity:

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i arrived at the coffee house early because i was planning to meet up with sid for the very first time. plus, i'm compusively punctual.

i was nervous. my stomach in knots. so, i thought that the best thing to do would be to get some hot chocolate.

oh, whatever. it made sense to me at the time. plus, really, let's be honest...no matter what's wrong with you, hot chocolate will fix it. broken heart? hot chocolate. lost your job? hot chocolate. malaria? hot chocolate.

as i'm waiting in line, i'm surrounded by people chattering excitedly.

"oh, i want to go straight upstairs after we get our coffee! i want to be sure we get a seat up front!"

"i'm so excited for the reading!"

"i think this evening is going to be so much fun!"

and, at first, i was really glad to hear such excitement in the air. everyone was looking forward to fray day, and i was thinking that positive energy would go a long way toward calming my nerves.

then i took a good look at the people in line.

they weren't exactly the folks i had anticipated would be turning out for fray day.

they were old. really old. maw-maws and paw-paws. all of 'em.

now, don't get me wrong...old people can come and hear stories, too. heck, i've heard some of my favorite stories sitting at the feet of my grandfather, listening to him and his friends talking.

but, while standing in line, looking at their white hair and their wrinkled hands, i'm paralyzed by a single thought: i'm going to stand up on stage and tell a story in which, arguably, the single most funny line uses the word "cockblocked".

now i'm panicked. now i'm scrambling. can i think of a back-up story? then i realize that most of my stories involve words like "fuck" or "whore." neither of which is really any better than "cockblocked."

and i'm thinking, "holy shit. i cannot stand up in front of a room full of maw-maws and paw-paws and say 'cockblocked'! i can't do it!"

sitting upstairs, i'm beginning to think that even hot chocolate isn't going to make me feel any better about this one. then, a woman sits down next to me.

"are you here for the poetry reading?"

she's probably about 300 years old. her hair is salt-and pepper, and she's wearing a very odd ensemble that, for some reason, makes me think of an elf. and she's just staring at me with this kind smile, waiting for me to respond.

wait...poetry reading?! well, maybe she's just a little confused. i mean, she is 300 years old. maybe she doesn't get that this isn't a poetry reading. but, then again, you know, maybe there will be some poetry. like russell simmons def jam poetry. not the kind that rhymes. 'cause, hey, that's storytelling too.

so, i snap out of it and look at her. "yes, i am."

"and how did you hear about it? did you see one of our flyers?"

again, i'm thinking she's confused.

"um...no. i heard about it from the website."

she looks at me with that same sweet smile on her face and just tilts her head to the left. like she's a dog watching television, never having heard the word "website" before.


now it's her turn to snap out of it.

"well, i'm going to be doing the reading tonight, you know. and, we'll be selling my book. we're already setting them up on the table up front."

and i'm thinking, "well, you go, maw-maw! you have a book! you sell your poetry! you rock!"

and she smiles and leaves me to go talk to another group of people just arriving.

sid comes in, and there's no doubt it's sid. for those of you who were wondering, sid has the best hair in the history of hair. ever in the entire history of hair, there has never been hair as awesome as sid's. so, stop trying. give it up. the. best. hair. ever. sid.

and, i'm thrilled to finally meet him, but i find myself totally not present.

i'm shutting down. i'm knotting up. i'm flip-flopping inside, self-evaluating, measuring, questioning.

sid's been a great supporter. a loyal reader. and, now...well, now here he is. and here i am. and maybe i'm not...something.

did he think i would be taller? shorter [i don't know how anyone could expect me to be shorter than i am, unless they think i'm a "little person."]? did he think i would be funnier? is he waiting for me to say something funny? god, i can't think of anything funny to say. i should definitely be funnier.

so, i sit, silent, staring at my hot chocolate, furious now that it hasn't solved one damn thing. i suspect, it might even be making things worse somehow.

meanwhile, over by the door, the 300-year-old elf is talking to someone who seems to be there in some semi-official capacity with the fray day event. from what i'm hearing, it would seem that there's a problem. it would seem that the room is double-booked. that these maw-maws and paw-paws are, indeed, here for a poetry reading by the 300-year-old elf. to my surprise, voices start to rise a bit. the elf is getting a little fired up and one of her maw-maw cohorts is defiantly putting up signs around the room for the poetry reading, looking squarely at the non-poetry-reading folks in the room as she smacks each sign up onto the wall.

i lean in to sid. "it's poetry versus prose! a battle to the death! it's like west side story!"

and we laugh, and i feel a little better.

and then, to my surprise, the poetry reading starts. and it's all well and good, until this:

elephants suck me
and blow me on their backs

what?! i'm trying very hard not to laugh, but failing miserably. but, in good news, i'm starting to think that "cockblocked" might not be as shocking to the crowd as i had originally thought.

once the poetry reading is over, fray day gets going. and, to my delight, one of the maw-maws actually decides to stay for fray day. but not before she has grilled the organizer, asking him just what this is all about. she's spunky, you can tell just by looking at her. she's wearing a white beret, a bright turquoise turtleneck and a flaming red blazer. she sits at the end of the table where sid and i are, taking a seat next to a guy who i noticed putting his name on the open-mic list.

for the record: if you missed it, just know that fray day was an evening filled with wonderful stories and masterful storytelling. and it makes me sad that it's only an annual event.

and, when my name was called, i went to the front of the room.

and the rest is unknown to me.

in all my years of public speaking, in all my years of giving presentations to crowds of hundreds, i've never blacked out. never said, "i have no idea how that went."

but, i have no idea how that went.

i don't know if i told the whole story.

i don't know if i talked for five minutes, or twenty-five.

i don't know if they could hear me in the back. or even in the front.

if i spoke too quickly. if i fidgeted.

but, i do remember stopping three times.

because they were laughing. in the right spots. including "cockblocked."

and, really, for it being the first time i've stood up in front of anyone and said, "this is me. this is my story. this is something i made with my mind and my hands and my heart." i'd say that stopping to let them laugh is about the best you can hope for.

after the event was over, i found out that the guy who was sitting beside the spunky maw-maw at the table with sid and me had come to fray day after reading about it on my page. and not only had wolfgang norton shown up -- he had joined the fray, telling a terrific story about prarie dogs and gregorian chants.

as we walked toward the clarendon metro, i told sid and wolfgang about my fear of saying "cockblocked" in front of a room full of maw-maws and paw-paws.

and wolfgang laughed.

"when you said that, she leaned over and said to me, 'what does that mean?'"

and then we went our separate ways. three people who know each without ever having met before.

i expected to be able to tell you a story about fray day. but i see that this post isn't so much a story as it is a ramble. just bits and pieces. observations both external and internal. a catalyst for asking myself hard questions.

on these pages, am i myself or some altered version of me?

should it matter so much what other people think? of me? of my writing? of my choices?

and, is it all really about succeeding, or is it about taking the chance in the first place?

i don't know. but i'm going to be thinking about it.

in the meantime, i'll just pass along this bit of helpful advice: if you can work it into your story, use the word "cockblocked" whenever possible. it brings the house down.
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a few housekeeping items
- one robert becker did, without question, crush me at scrabble last night. twice. but only because i spent the evening looking at a rack full of nothing but vowels. plus i kept graciously -- or stupidly, depending on your perspective, i guess -- opening up the triple word score squares, which he then mercilessly took advantage of. using all the cool letters he was getting, like q and z. heck, even if i did get a chance at a triple word score square, i would have had to make some lame word like "ion" or "era." damn vowels. i demand a rematch.

- i had the extreme pleasure of seeing the one and only fleetwood mac last night. they put on an incredible show, and i'm glad that i had a chance to see them live. my mom wore out no less than two copies of rumors during my childhood, so i'm a bit of a fan. lindsay buckingham is a phenomenal performer, and also has this uncanny ability to get hotter with age. unlike the rest of the band. however, i must say that stevie nicks looked -- and sounded -- better than in years past...but her shoes made me sad. remember how stevie used to rock those crazy lace-up knee-high boots with the stilletto heels? and how she'd not just rock them, but she'd spin around in them?! well, now stevie is rocking what looked like some orthopedic earth shoes with wedge heels and glitter shoelaces. and there was one almost-spinning incident, but, it was more shuffling than spinning, really. sad times.

- yeah, there's a new graphic up there. i'm playing around with several options that you'll see in the next several weeks. test driving, if you will. feel free to throw in your two cents.

- the votes have been tallied, the decision is made. tonight i'll be attempting to share the mojo is strong in this one at fray day. i say "attempting" because i'm a bit nervous. i know, i know...over there on the left it says that i enjoy speaking in front of large crowds. and, it's true. i've been doing it for years, but mostly in the context of teaching classes or giving presentations at conferences. this thing tonight feels a little different. it's sharing something more personal. so, it makes me nervous.

- some of you may also be questioning another item in my list over there on the left. how can anyone calling herself a cubs fan have made no mention of the ubs-cay and the ayoffs-play?! for the record: i fear any reflection, celebratory or otherwise, will jinx the whole thing. so, pretend i didn't even write this.
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into the fray
an online friend turned me on to a website called fray.

at fray, storytelling is what it's all about, baby. and you know i dig the storytelling.

this weekend -- well, starting tomorrow, actually -- fray is sponsoring fray day events all around the country where people can come and get on the mic for five long minutes and tell their stories.

said friend suggested that we go to the dc event.

choosing a story to tell is hard. telling is different than writing. some of my stories read better than they tell...if you know what i mean.

plus, do you want to go with a funny story? a poignant story? a gut-wrenching story? it's a tough call.

so, i turn to you, my loyal readers. feel free to make suggestions as to what story you think i should tell...but remember, it might not be the story that reads the best that tells the best.

and, if you're in dc, come by the fray day event friday night in arlington at common grounds. i could use the cheering section.

by the way, from listening to some of the past events, fray day seems to be chock full o' bloggers. so, if you're not in dc, find a fray day near you and hit the mic already.
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