Saturday, July 23, 2011

Up Close and Personal and Sometimes Kinda Gross

I have this habit, as I've had most of my life, of examining every single part of my body, from the very top of my head to the very tips of my toes. My sisters and I used to drive my mom crazy when we were little because after examining ourselves, we would examine each other. She used to tell us we were like monkeys. I guess monkeys are always picking at each other. Unless, of course, she meant we looked like monkeys. And if that's the case, then geez...thanks mom.

I’m not quite sure what the fascination is, but there definitely is this strange attraction to certain occurrences that happen to the body. Take peeling sun burns, for example. How fun is it to peel off the dead skin from someone's sun burnt body? I mean, it's f**king gross if you really think about what you're doing, yet...I have never met anyone that didn't get a certain thrill from seeing just how long of a piece you could peel at one time. I've had contests with friends over this. I think the only thing that makes you realize how disgusting it is, is when you release that last little piece from connecting to the skin and don't know what to do with it. So you roll it in a ball between your thumb and index finger, let your arm drop down to your side, and let it slide out of your hand hoping no one saw you do that. Til you leave the area and there's all these little skin wads rolled up in a small pile on the floor.

And who doesn't love popping pimples? Ok, probably most people don't. But just saying "popping pimples" is fun. I had this friend, or maybe it was my sister, who used to love popping people's pimples. Ohhh...that's even more fun to say..."popping people's pimples". Try saying that 5 times fast. Makes a fun sensation on your lips. But there I go digressing again...anyway...whoever it was used to get such a kick out of the squirt following the pop. And the further the squirt, especially onto the mirror...the bigger the gratification. I'm even grossed out.

I was never a nail biter, but cuticles are a whole other story. Have you ever tried to bite cuticles without pulling huge chunks of skin from your fingers? And pull them off so delicately that the skin is still smooth, not needing to trim them with a cuticle scissors? Sometimes I would catch myself gnawing away, realizing people are looking at me like I'm a bunny rabbit nibbling on a carrot. But I have to admit, I love seeing that one little, itty, bitty piece of skin that needs that one teeny nibble to come off.

On one occasion, when my daughter was young, I was staring at her like I always did, and still do, because I continue to be so amazed, even to this day, that I produced this child. But anyway, I noticed a spot of dirt on her chin. She was young enough where she would still allow me to wipe stuff off her face, so I took a tissue to wipe it away. It wouldn't come off, so I licked my thumb, and like every child loves their mother to do, tried wiping it away with my spit. It still wasn't coming off. I kept rubbing and rubbing, thinking maybe she got ink on her face. Finally, she was like "Mom, will you stop already." She went to look in the mirror and when she came back, she said "'s a freckle."  "It's a frickin' freckle?" I said. Of course I had to rub it a few more times to be sure. And to this day, I still kid her about her 'frickin' freckle' just because that's another alliteration I absolutely love saying. Try it...Frickin' freckle. It's fun. Ok...maybe I need a life!

Another fun activity is trying to remove an ingrown hair. Not mentioning where this hair might be located on the body, have you ever tried squeezing an ingrown hair til it pops out? Oh my much fun. And the real prize is when it finally does pop  could be like an inch long. And you're did that happen? Nothing is supposed to be that long on THAT part of my body. I always worry what will happen to me when I'm old and can't take care of my personal hygiene on my own. I remember my grandmother, [may she rest in peace], was in the hospital, and she said to me, "No matter what happens, make sure I have no stray chin hairs."  That left an indelible mark in my memory bank. 

           [This is not my Nana…just in case you were thinking it was from my family album]

Eyebrow tweezing is an art in itself. I could spend hours on my eyebrows. If you pluck just one eyebrow hair out from the wrong place, it can reshape the entire brow. Just one hair has that much power. Then you have to rethink exactly what shape you may want your eyebrows to take on. If you pluck out that one hair from the arch, it could make a huge difference in your facial expression. You could have a look of surprise because the arch is now too high. There are various facial expressions you could take on with just the shaping of the brows. They have an incredible command of the face; those brows.

On to the really gross stuff. Nose blowing. How great does it feel when you are all stuffed up and want so badly to release all that gunk out of your nostrils...and then comes the blow of all blows. That one blow that jet propels all the mucous that was stuck onto the walls of your nose holes, into the tissue. Like a cannon ball...boom...there it is in huge chunks and you can finally breathe. Great feeling, huh? C'mon...admit it. As disgusting as it sounds, now that you think about it, seeing what's in that tissue...kind of orgasmic, no? 

Have you ever cut your toenails so short there is no room for the nail polish? So you have to paint the end of your toe to simulate the nail? This is a monthly routine I have to say, I absolutely hate. Cutting toe nails. I had a friend who got so upset with me while we were on vacation because I was cutting my toe nails in front of her. She didn't talk to me the rest of the day. I had to shut myself up in a hot, hotel room bathroom just to clip my nails. She has toes. She has toe nails. Does she shut her eyes when she's doing her own and wear ear plugs? She couldn't stand the sound of the clippers. I checked her toes to see if her nails were 8 inches long because I found it hard to believe she would let anyone give her a pedicure. She probably kicked the nail technician in the face every time she would hear the sound of the clippers. What's wrong with toes and feet? I know quite a few people who have a foot aversion. I, personally, happen to have adorable feet.

So there you have it…from head to toe. There are so many other places on my body that are picked on and picked at, but I don’t want to bore you with more details than necessary. Nor do I want to open myself up to more ridicule than I have already. People say to me they don’t understand how I can be so open about myself and events in my life, both in my relationships and in my blog. I find it liberating and exhilarating. What’s the point of being alive if you have no one to share yourself with. I’m an open book with nothing to hide. You either like me for who I am or you don’t. Being private is like living a jail sentence in solitary confinement. You’re stuck with your own thoughts, all stuffed inside, waiting to burst out…and in my case…I’d rather have diarrhea than constipation.

***please note...none of the pictures contained in this blog are family members***

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Who You Callin' Trouble?

Over the years I have prided myself on being the poster child for the perfect daughter. Then I thought back to all the shenanigans I had pulled growing up and into my early adult years and realized I had been anything but. My parents didn't really know a lot of the stuff I did, so to this day, I still WAS the perfect child in their eyes. (Not as an adult...just as a kid). I never did anything illegal or dangerous...just enough to get me into trouble with those of authority. Because I was boy crazy as a young girl, my romantic antics were always getting me into hot water. And having the freedom from parents every summer…sometimes that hot water boiled over.

Summer I loved going to summer camp. Well...from 8 years old and on I loved it, but my parents decided at 6, I was old enough to attend the most religious Jewish camp there was on the entire earth. I don't think Israel had anything that intense. Now…please note...I had never once been to Temple, did not know one thing about our religion, yet for 8 weeks, 8 very long weeks, at 6 years old, during what should have been the most fun time of year for any child, we had to attend services, or some semblance of a service, every single morning and evening. Are you kidding me? And what was that language they were speaking during those services? I knew it was definitely not anything I had ever heard before. The guttural sounds that came from their throats sounded like they were gonna project loogies out onto our heads. I later found out that was Hebrew. And to this day, I still do not understand one word of it. Ok…maybe one word…Shalom. Oh yeah…and Mazel Tov. Oh…and L’chaim. (One of those loogie words I was referring to). But that’s about it.

Being so young, I was homesick every single minute of every hour of every day. My sister went to the same camp, but the camp was so enormous, I rarely got to see her, except when it was time for services. And even then, they wouldn't allow us to see each other. I would spot her from a distance and run up to her crying, just for a hug. Then I got into trouble. Just for hugging my sister. So I would sneak out in search of her... and that was my start to a life of crime and corruption.

I stayed home the following summer. My whining and tirades were enough to convince my parents that a summer at the beach would be much more peaceful than daily phone calls from Jewish central complaining about their kid undermining camp rules. But the summer after to another camp, which I went to for the next 5 summers, and those were the greatest. That’s not to say I didn't get into trouble...of course I did. I discovered boys. And there were lots of them. And they all needed my attention. Jock during the day, stealth boy hunter at night. Well, maybe not so stealth. I had a secret mission almost every night, and that was to find the boy's cabin holding hostage my boy du jour. Of course I never actually made it all the way to the boy's end of the camp. Those prison lights they had spotlighting me as I was sneaking my way across, made me fall to the ground and confess all my sins. And each time I got caught, I had to run circles around the tennis courts, sometimes in the rain, for hours on end. Just walking and running and walking and running, sometimes soaking wet. That stopped my antics…for maybe a minute.

My boy crazed phase didn’t diminish any by the time I went on my teen tour across the country at 14. But the price I had to pay was a little harsher. And more often. There were 100 kids: 50 boys, 50 girls, and 20 counselors. 100 teenage kids with screaming, raging hormones. We toured the U.S. in vans towing Apache tent trailers. 10 kids to a trailer. That summer I discovered the wild side that had been dormant within for my first 13 years of life. Although I am usually the one to follow all the rules, [because I’m such a chicken-shit], that summer showcased the womanly beast within. (As womanly as you can get at 14). My best friend and I were always looking for ways each night to get away from our girls’ group and go visit the boys. We would make it just so far, for just so long, and then bam! They always found us. I guess after a few times, a pattern is formed; conditioning, so to speak. It wasn’t real hard for the counselors to figure out where we would be. They just had to figure out which trailer we’d be in. And to our dismay…they always did.

The retribution for our first offense wasn’t too extreme. They figured if we were okay sneaking out of our trailer at night to visit the boys in their trailers, then we would be ok sleeping outside of the trailer, too. They did allow us to use our sleeping bags, but we had to sleep on the rocky pavement with no cushions underneath or any protection overhead. Needless to say, they were very restless nights. And since we were so restless, we made sure everyone could hear just how restless we were, therefore making it a little more fun for us.

Because sleeping on rocks certainly was not going to deter us from doing it again, when the next time came to slipping out ‘ever so quietly’, we found out that we were not ‘ever so quiet’. When they caught us, they came up with the notion that keeping us from going to a Dodger game in L.A., would cause us to cease and desist the next time we had the urge. Yeah…I don’t think so. So, of course, we went again a few nights later. We thought we had gotten away with it the third time…but noooo. Not even close. It still baffles me why the boys never got into trouble. I mean, I know we were the ones who snuck out to go to them, but they never told us to go away because they didn’t want to get into trouble themselves. They sat and talked with us and hung out just as much as we did. But we paid the price. And that third time was a doozy. We had to miss going to Disneyland. Not only did they keep us from the happiest place on earth, but we had to do the laundry of every single person in the entire camp while they were off to see Tinkerbell. Eight hours of laundry. Eight hours straight of laundry! In a creepy, sleazy laundromat in L.A. Did I mention it was eight hours of washing and drying and folding everybody’s disgustingly dirty laundry? We were going crazy sitting there between loads imagining everyone else screaming as they went down the spirals of the Matterhorn, shaking hands with Mickey and Goofy, and singing ‘It’s a Small World’ 80 gazillion times because they couldn’t get the song out of their heads. We really did pay the price that time. Eight frickin’ hours worth!

After that, we decided we didn’t want to miss out on any other great adventures, so we followed all (most) of the rules and got to go on every excursion for the rest of the summer. Unfortunately, we had chosen to get grounded in the most fun state we visited…but I still got to have my first make-out session with a boy. We snuck out behind the trees in Yosemite National Park, so therefore, California wasn’t a complete bust.
And I proceeded to make out in every state we drove through on our way back east. What a learning experience my summer of 14 turned out to be. In so many ways.

My capers continued throughout the rest of my teenage years well into my 20’s…and 30’s…and even my 40’s. Of course they got a little less innocent as the years progressed, but those are for another blog.

So what does a 50 something do nowadays to release that little girl, boy crazed, troublemaker within? A few tips for creating some middle-aged excitement that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the opposite sex:

  1. Take more than the 6 items of clothing allowed into the dressing room
  2. Talk the waiter into giving you a breakfast burrito even though it’s after 11AM
  3. Use an expired coupon
  4. Go through the 15 item express lane with 16 items
  5. Or sneak into the dressing room for a quickie with Gunther…the hunky manager

Now...THAT's trouble!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Unfinished Business

As I sit here on a Sunday morning, sipping my coffee, watching Wimbledon, I think back to all the things I have I left unfinished over the years because I just wasn't that good at them. I wasn't bad...but I wasn't great. I am the epitome of 'jack of all trades, master of none.' And quite frankly...that really pisses me off.

As a kid, I was a pretty good tennis player. I could rally with the best of them. But my serve, well...that sucked. You can't be a great tennis player if you serve like a 5 year old (unless, of course, you're a 3 year old). I could teach you how to serve; I just couldn't actually demonstrate it. When I was in college, I decided to stay there over the summer breaks. Aside from working on campus, I got a job with Parks and Rec as their tennis instructor. How I pulled that one off is beyond me. Actually, I know how I pulled it off...they never asked for my credentials. All I had to do was tell them I knew how to play and presto! Had the job. Obviously they didn't see too many tennis pros coming through their doors. When I took my first group of suckers, oops, sorry…novices, to the courts, I showed them all the basics of tennis. That was easy since I had been playing for over 15 years at that point. When it came to the serve, I was able to talk them through the technique; kind of a ‘tell’ without the ‘show’, but then they asked me to actually serve. [Like with a real ball?]  Not wanting to embarrass myself, I told them I had a bad shoulder and didn't want to injure it any more by lifting my arm. Did they not notice that I lifted my arm as I was explaining it? Did they think the ball would be too heavy to actually throw it up in the air?  Whatever they believed…they didn’t question it, so each week, I had a new ailment. It's amazing to me that no one caught on to my charade. But I managed to make it through the entire summer with no one ever catching on. Maybe I should have gone into politics?

Drawing is another half-assed talent I have. I can look at a picture or object and then draw it on paper.  As a kid, I decorated many things with my favorite cartoon characters. I'm an expert at Tweety-Pie. I had a bulletin board that I drew characters all around the frame. I was so proud of that. I had Tweety and Bugs and Daffy and Sylvester, but when I left for college, my mom decided I didn't need my bulletin board anymore and got rid of it. I remember coming home during one break to find quite a few things missing from my childhood, because she thought I didn't need or want them anymore. Really? That was one of my most favorite accomplished pieces of artwork I ever did...gone. But I gave up on my drawing because I couldn't create...I could only copy. It's not very satisfying when you can't create something on paper but you see it in your head. In fact it's downright frustrating. tendency...give it up. My lack of patience abounds. If I can't perfect it right away...don't bother to persevere...just give up. Great words to live by, right? Nope. Thank god I didn't impart that on my children. In fact, I made sure I taught them to do as I say, not as I do.

Photography was also something I tinkered with. I thought I was pretty good until I took a class and realized how much I didn't know; lens speed and F-stop and aperture…really? I don’t think so. Point and click. That’s all I needed to know. So naturally, knowing I would have to sit in a classroom for too many hours over too many weeks, I gave that up, also. After 16 years of schooling, I realized how much I hate learning. Well...I don't hate learning, per se...I just can't stand sitting in an organized environment and having to concentrate at somebody else's pace. I love learning on my own, at my own pace. Then it's not like it's really learning but it's knowledge absorption without realizing you are actually soaking it all in. I try to trick my mind and so far, so good. I'm pretty gullible, so I believe my own bullshit. A self guided tour; trial and error...that's the way for me to learn. So I took decent pictures kinda…if you didn’t mind out-of-focus, in the dark, heads cut off. Since everything is automatic now...I didn't waste my time learning things I never would have used in the future. Pretty incredible forward thinking on my part, I think.

I took piano lessons when I was about 10 years old. I think I may have lasted about a year but when I wasn't playing Mozart's Requiem Mass in D minor by then, I decided to call that quits, too. I took it up again in my 30's thinking maybe I would have a little more patience. That time I lasted 6 weeks. I decided that piano teachers didn't really understand the mind of an impatient musician. We don't want to learn the fundamentals of music. We don't want to learn to read music. Show us what keys to place our fingers on for the songs we want to learn...and we are good to go. For some reason my piano teacher took offense to that and dropped me as his student. Therefore, I can't count that as me quitting since he was the one to end that relationship. And then I got an instruction booklet that matched letters to keys...'Play by letters', so to speak…so I guess you could say that made me a musician? No? But I was playing, so…yes?

I also dabbled with the violin in 4th grade, and only because I wanted to emulate my older sister. She was pretty good. Well, she may not have been but in my mind, she was always the best at everything. Have you ever heard someone who has no idea what they’re doing while playing a stringed instrument? I, myself, tried pressing my hands as hard as I could to cover my ears to block out the sound…and I was the one playing. Violin lessons lasted two whole weeks. I decided when the neighborhood dogs started howling while I was playing, that wasn’t a good sign.

I also experimented with the guitar and ukulele. I have to say...I was pretty impressive with my rendition of the Hukilau song on the Uke.  OK…that about covers the extent of my talent on those two instruments. Learn to play the Hukilau in one easy lesson. That should be the mission statement for learning every instrument…One Easy Lesson.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. At 14, I started keeping a diary every day. I wanted to chronicle my summer journey across country. I kept writing in my journal on a daily basis ever since then. I’ve always loved writing [obviously], but when I look back to some of the crap I wrote in college for my writing courses, I wonder how the hell my professors thought that was “A” work. I wonder how I thought that it was any good. In fact, I look at some of my past blogs and still wonder…..

So there you have it. I never achieved Steffi Graf status in tennis, I’ll never paint like Georgia O’Keeffe, I’ll never play the violin like Itzhak Perlman, Schroeder far outperforms me on piano, Annie Leibovitz will always capture a better image than I can, but one thing I know for sure, with 100% certainty, as far as writing goes, I WILL definitely be the next………

                                           Jaime Perlov.