Butts ‘n Boobs ‘n Bags, Oh My!

Like every morning, I showered and dressed. After pouring what’s left of my once healthy B’s into my underwire bra, I glanced in the mirror. “Hey, Mom!” I said- as my mother was staring back at me. “Whoa!” was my next thought.

What a way to start a morning. When did this age thing happen? When did I turn into someone my mother’s age? Yesterday, I was full and perky, and today saggy and droopy.

After dressing, I did the “face ritual.” Wash with exfoliating stuff, wipe with toner, then dot “anti-age” wrinkle cream around my eyes, and moisturize the rest of my face with salicylic acid for my pre-menopausal outbreaks. I don’t remember having dark circles and bags under my eyes as a teen (they were only red from lack of sleep, but that’s another story….)or acne either. But, hey, I’ve got them now! Great!

Then, my 13 year old daughter, Anna, came in to use my brush, wearing MY JEANS! And, you know what, her butt looked better in them than mine did. Have you seen my butt? I’ve lost it somewhere and would like it back… I thought women’s butts just got lower as we aged; mine seems to have gone directly from me to my daughter!

I have officially entered Oz, and I’ve become the Wicked Witch of the West (minus the green skin…unless I have one too many glasses of wine….). My body has gone somewhere over that rainbow, and my kids think I’m the meanest mom in the world (they don’t understand why they have to unload the dishwasher….). How did this happen?

Time. Although my body isn’t anything like what I think it once was, my brain and soul are firmly in Kansas, okay, NY, but you knew what I meant. I like who I’ve become, body and all, and I wouldn’t trade my life for a 20-something. What, go through bad marriages again? Learn how to take the hard knocks of life and turn them into “learning experiences” all over again? No, thanks.

As I head into the next forest singing “butts ‘n boobs ‘n bags, oh my!” I will be dancing and following that yellow brick road into the unknown, happy to be on the road with friends and love.

PS- I wrote this ten years ago when I was in my 40s. I’m now in my 50s, post-menopausal (thank the universe, that phase really, I mean, really sucked) and ya know what? I’m still dancing and following that yellow brick road that I laid myself brick by brick. Oh, and my butt came back, bigger than ever. Mama’s got back. Life is good.

A Saturday Night

Bertrand Russell said there were three passions that ruled his life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and the unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. How right that man was about all of humanity, and me, and the price of my knowledge? $6.48 plus the tip, and a hangover.

It was 5:30 on a Saturday night. I packed my notebook and pen in my purse and headed to a local restaurant. I walked, knowing that I was going for a drink, and because the evening was perfect for a walk. It was warm, sunny, and I wanted to spend an evening without technology. I know, crazy, right? But how else can I experience life- others’ lives- if I have my nose in a phone or laptop?

I found a spot at the end of the bar, took out my notebook and pen, and looked at the others seated at the bar while I waited for the bartender to bring me a house margarita on the rocks, with salt (as a single mom, I cannot afford the good stuff). At the other end of the bar, sat a young married couple, perhaps married less than three years. Next to them sat another couple , possibly in their mid-thirties; then a forty-ish woman with long, curly burnt-oatmeal colored hair; next to her was a couple in their 20’s , not married, and then, me. A relatively good sampling of human life out-and-about on a Saturday night. Ah, and here’s my drink. Mmmm… just the right amount of tequila and lime.

I take a sip and begin observing the first couple. The husband’s right arm is in a sling and his wedding ring caught the light blinding me for a moment. His wife , an Asian woman with long black hair and a cellphone attached to her right hand, acknowledges his presence every once in awhile with a smile and nod in his direction when he speaks to her, then takes a bite of food, and goes back to her phone. Ahh, young love, in the stage of taking love for granted. Good luck, and I wish you well in your future suffering. I see the signs.

Next to them is the couple in their thirties. They talk together, laugh, and occasionally the man brushes a strand of hair out of her face. She takes a bite of food, a big bite, and then brushes his thigh with her hand.   Then I see her take her phone out of her purse , do a quick glance at the time, and then bury the phone back in her purse. Yep. They have young kids who are with a baby-sitter. They probably have an hour or two left to pretend they are carefree, before they go home and pass out instead of making love. They found more love than they know what to do with. I smile , and suck deeply at my straw-filled word-making liquid.

The woman is next. I notice her arms. They are long and sinewy, like over-grown roots to a hedge bush outside an abandoned, foreclosed four-bedroom home. She’s not from the area as she’s asking the bartender where the “happening” place is in Plattsburgh. Ha. The bartender, a short, sweaty bald man, looks helplessly around, and vaguely points in two directions at once. For a moment, he reminds me of The Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz talking with a lost Dorothy, except Dorothy isn’t fourteen, she’s forty, and not cute anymore. She doesn’t smile either. I pity her hunger. Eventually, she addresses the young woman next to her. I take another drink of my now watered- down margarita.

The two people between us are in their mid-twenties. I think they’ve been dating awhile . I’ve noticed that she has been giving him little bites of food throughout their meal. He dismissively takes the food from her proffered fork. He then chews, smiles at her, glances at his shoes, and then wipes his mouth with his napkin. Yeah, he’s bored, and he’s trying to find a way to break up with her, but he doesn’t know how. He chugs his beer, and asks the bartender for a refill. Sam Adams. Hipster. I take his cue, and take another sip. Then I hear laughter. Wait. He’s smiling at the wall, and laughing, and she’s looking at his face. He wants to get laid. Get laid, and then break up.

Those people have left the bar, and have been replaced by other people, with other stories. Three new people sit down next to me, a couple in their early 50’s with their newly 21-year-old daughter. I know them . We exchange pleasantries, and they look at my pen and notebook, and my singledom is obviously apparent. “Oh, she teaches English, and she’s working on a short story” is what she says to her daughter and husband. I smile, suck down the rest of my watery margarita, pack up my belongings, and leave.

Of course, I stop elsewhere on my way home, and I know I will get a hangover, but I like observing people because they, as well as I, want love, knowledge, and they pity suffering. All those people in that restaurant will find love, and knowledge, and they will find suffering. It’s part of life, and it’s sometimes unbearably and beautifully painful. And, as life would have it, I walked home alone, with my pen and notebook, in the rain.

Mom or Black Widow? Maybe both!

471359_3836720277415_1255246137_oIn May of 2012, I, at 46 years old, went out in public dressed as Black Widow, much to the horror of my children. “Mom, really? You’re not 20 ya know, you’re middle aged, and you’re dressing up as a superhero!” At the time, it was a fun thing to do with friends, kinda daring and off-the-wall, and it made me happy. What I really didn’t know then, was that part of me did become the Black Widow, or, rather, then I began to realize that I was, indeed, a dark, vodka-swirling, Russian (okay, I’m German, but I have Russian friends…) spy who had red in her ledger.

I think that was a turning point for me. I can be a superhero- not in the fact that I will avenge the world, but I can avenge MY world. Like all heroes, all humans in real life, I have to prove my worth, I have to wipe the red from my ledger, I have to fight a dragon (overcome a fear- you know, dragons have feelings too and aren’t all bad beings), sacrifice a piece of myself to achieve a greater good, and in the end, become the hero I was meant to be. No hero is perfect; if a hero starts out perfect or ends up perfect, that person is no hero: that person is not even human.

It’s been a long journey for me. One that I am still traveling, and a journey that will have more battles for me, but I can say that I have fought the biggest dragon in my life lately, and although I have some battle scars, I believe I have emerged a better person in the end. I have wiped most of the red from my ledger.

A friend of mine recently said he was scrolling through his phone contacts and said he came across “Black Widow” and he couldn’t remember why he had that in there. Then he realized it was my number, and decided to keep it listed as Black Widow. Oh, he thinks he’s the Hulk.. Okay, so, I have some weird, possibly delusional friends, but if I’m Black Widow, why can’t he really be the Hulk??

It may be very strange to some that a middle-aged woman would dress up in a superhero costume when it’s not even Halloween, but I’m thankful I did. In secret, I still put on my bullet bracelet when I’m feeling weak or vulnerable, and it helps. I CAN be a hero in my own world, and I shouldn’t be ashamed to be me.

We all are heroes by making right decisions, and if we are parents, we all start out being our child’s first and foremost hero. I’m sure I’m no longer my children’s hero, as they’re teenagers now, and are quite embarrassed by my strange antics, but maybe someday in the future they will look back and think, “Ya know, mom wasn’t crazy after all. She really became her own hero and that was really badass of her!”

After all, there’s always hope.

I doubt I’ll ever dress as Black Widow again, but the costume is hanging in my closet, and my bullet bracelets are in my underwear drawer, if ever the need arises for me to “suit up” again and avenge some wrong in the world, my world. For now, I think I’ll just pour myself a vodka and blend into the background as a generic woman and mom, live an average life, and be “normal.” After all, that is the perfect backdrop for a spy: blend into your surroundings, and don’t get noticed.
I found my inner superhero. Which superhero are you?