Guilty Pleasures? No Guilt Here

Recently a guy friend of mine asked me about my guilty pleasures. I’m not sure if he wasguilty-pleasures fishing for grubby details, but after giving it a few minutes the only thought I came up with was.. well nothing. If its pleasurable, I tend to not feel guilty about doing it.

Mostly I feel guilty about things I don’t do. Oh boy is THAT list long. Not going to the gym, not giving that document one last edit, not eating any vegetables that day, not calling my dearest friend (sorry FF! you know how I get), not putting more into my retirement account. I spend hours, days, years even feeling guilty about shit I didn’t do. Its basically 90% of what’s in my brain at any one time.. even as I drift off to sleep. My brain is so full of guilty, I don’t think I have room left to start feeling guilty about the stuff I enjoy doing, and then actually do. So in response to my friend, here’s a few of my ‘I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty about’ pleasures.

  • Loving Megan Trainor. I may be 45 but I still like to dance in the kitchen to unabashed girl anthems. I blame a 50 yr old dad for my obsession… apparently, they’re into chick anthems too. And hey, at least I’m not a Bieber-Believer.
  • Liberally using the word ‘fuck’. I know it’s a sign of low wit, but it’s a flourish I developed aged 12 and I just love the feel and sound of it coming out of my mouth.
  • Researching the latest high fashion trends for hours before buying the same tee shirt, jeans, boots wardrobe I’ve been wearing since 21. Its awesome knowing velvet shoes, baggy pants and high collared shirts are the thing… even better to know I’ll not be wearing them.
  • Going to bed at 8.30pm. I’m sure, in fact I know, I’m missing out but in return I gain 10 solid hours of sleep and the face of a 35 yr old.. well until gravity kicks back in.
  • Not having kids. I hear they’re delicious but like roasting lamb or snorting coke, just not really something I ever wanted to do.
  • Buying $80 bras online the moment I get paid. With boobs this size, it’s not underwear, its fucking architecture and who cares about a rich retirement if my boobs have to drag on the floor to get there?
  • Never reading ‘motivational’ slogans or articles about self-improvement. I have obsessive compulsion disorder so motivation and drive is something I have to medicate just to be able to relax. I click for ‘do nothing’ ‘change nothing’ and ‘think less’.
  • Screwing the laundry, the cleaning and errands to go for a long hike or ride instead. Dust doesn’t age but I am.. so I’m doing fun stuff as long as I can. I’ll clean when I’m 80.

What are your ‘not guilty about’ pleasures? If you don’t have any, I sincerely advise you get some post haste.

Boobs on the beach

Its mid summer and as thoughts turn to sand and surf, its time for the dreaded death bikinimarch known as ‘swimwear shopping’. I’m not going to moan about crappy lighting, lumps and bumps or the awful southern migration of everything once pointing north. Thats not my problem.

After all, having no kids means I’ll probably die alone and unloved, but I won’t have saggy tits or a mom pouch. Hey, there’s an upside to everything. So what’s my problem with swimwear?

Its boobs. Specifically big boobs.

Living in the US means 90% of all female attire is designed for 5ft 10 waifs with flat chests and a 34 inch inseam. Clothing options for big boobs are limited to the ‘Misses’ section, Fredricks of Hollywood hoochy section or the nude granny bra’s hidden next to the flannel nightgowns. Its like the tits fell off the immigrants when they came over on the Mayflower or something, because America sure doesn’t provide for those of us who are blessed in the breast department.

And before you start playing the worlds smallest violin, check out Miss Tits in the picture. See the challenge? Nuff said.

Hailing from the UK – the original land of the pendulous breast – I was used to skinny model clothing everywhere, but stores did still recognize that women – by and large – have tits. And sometimes, big tits, monster tits. Check out a lingerie department in the UK and be awestruck at the sizes. Most Americans would claim ‘fake news’ in the face of a 28GG. But I’m here to tell you – its normal and it does exist. In fact, I’ve seen more than a few IRL.

But here in the US, you’d think that big boobs don’t exist, young chicks definitely don’t have them and they certainly don’t exist the moment you step on a beach.

I discovered this my first year in the US during one of the most depressing days of my life. With a beach vacation looming (and many years before online shopping), I spent 8 hours traipsing around every store I knew in search of something, anything that would cover more than a nipple.

Every store was the same. Tiny triangles designed for mutant sexless elves. Fabric so thin you could see my heart beat through it. And for every top, a bottom designed for an 8-year-old boy. I sized up. I sized up again. I moved into the plus section. And still I couldn’t find anything that covered more than my nipples or my ass crack. I wound up eventually in the ‘Big Girls’ section of a department store, flicking through swim suits with skirts and spaces for my future mastectomy. I felt like a mutant.

So that was my choice. Sexless grandma, cancer survivor or porno reject.

I wound up laying out in a Speedo that year.

Thankfully these days we have the world at our fingertips and I can summon the best swimwear from anywhere (where women have tits), for just $4.99 shipping.

I can look like a 50s pinup, an LA madam or even Aquaman if thats my thing. There’s  ‘full coverage’ or ‘partial coverage’, underwired, ‘bandeau’ (aka wrapping them around your back) and even the mumsy ‘tankini’ to hide that lunchtime prosecco pot belly. Hell you can even go whole hog and grab a burkini. And of course, they still make those triangles.. just bigger and with sturdier straps for us grown up girls.

I still struggle to find options that don’t push my tits up to my chin or come with extra padding (because my DD’s NEED TO BE BIGGER?) but at least there are possibilities.

So thank you internets. Thank you Brazil, Canada, Germany and the UK for acknowledging that women do indeed come with chesticals which we can’t remove for our summer vacation. That our asses have curves bigger than two limes and most of us don’t shave from here to next Tuesday just to pop for a swim.

And for those considering heading out to find that suit for Labor day. Don’t bother. Google ‘bikini’ and your chest size on Amazon and be prepared for the onslaught. It’ll be the best bikini shop of your life.

 

 

 

 

 

Riding with girls

01 MtnBikingWomen-2500pxI’m easily intimidated and not the most socially adept person when meeting men, women or small children (FYI: dogs love me), but this weekend I decided to do something that scared me, and signed up for a women’s mountain biking clinic.

The group name – Dirt Divas – was my first hurdle. Any association with the word ‘Diva’ implies Mariah Carey, high maintainance women and satin floor length dresses as far as I’m concerned.. non of which naturally sprang to mind in association with mountain biking. Plus ‘Divas’? Does this mean they’re all super awesome pro racers who sneer at us amateurs who still struggle to bunny hop up a curb? But I saw that the clinic was being run by pro downhill racer, Zach Griffith, and figured that I could use any advice for not overshooting switchbacks.. even if I had to do so surrounded by elite riders or chicks in evening gowns. I’ve provided the front range mountain biking community with enough YouTube clips this year thanks and frankly, 1/3 of my salary is going to Bandaids and gauze pads. So if the ‘Divas’ could waive the floor length satin dress requirement .. I was in.

Having ridden with dudes my entire life, I’m a bit tired of being dropped, panting my way up the trail only to have the entire group spring back on their bikes, just as I’m unclipping for a bit of a rest. I hate that dudes consider my walking a 3 ft drop as ‘pussying out’ and frankly, I know I’m never going to be awesome, so I just enjoy doing what I can. As a result, I’ve been riding alone this year. Something that is dangerous when injury is involved (a weekly occurrence for me), plus it changes the ‘post ride beer in the parking lot’ from a fun group activity to a weird ‘stay away from the weird alcoholic lady’ warning to small children.

I need chicks to mountain bike ride with. Women who can actually ride up rocks, but who know that waiting means waiting.. and won’t sneer when you can’t make it up the 10th washout board in the ladder. Who you can emphasize with you when the handlebar jabs you in the boob or when you didn’t unclip fast enough and hit the thorn-bush ass first. But I don’t know any… I did, but they all got married and quit, or now ride with their kids.

I had a moment of fear as I pulled up to the parking lot, frantically checking that no one was wearing downhill pads or a dirt bike helmet, but breathed out as I saw a chick wrestling her Ibis off her rack and not a Fox jersey in sight. In fact, as more of us pulled up, it looked more and more normal. Chicks my age, most of us driving trucks and 4Runners, baring scarred knees, junk in our trunk, dirty shoes and not a swipe of makeup amongst us.

As I stood with the other ‘Divas’ (never was a group so misnamed.. not an inkling of cleavage or small dog amongst us), a chick behind me said ‘I hope no one here is awesome, cos I suck‘ and I knew I’d found my people.

It was GLORIOUS.

The clinic itself – well I’ll skip the details as its only interesting to about 2 other people in the universe was great, but the overwhelming joy I felt was more due to the opportunity to do sports with other women. Something I don’t think I’ve done since high school.

Once we’d gotten over the ‘I’m crapper than you’ modesty show down (can you imagine dudes having that conversation?), it was all about asking for advice, guidance and at one point, a round of applause for some cornering which would make a slalom racer proud.

Do dudes applaud when someone nails it?

Our coach (married with 2 daughters, and seemingly endless patience for chicks) balanced delivering information en masse, followed by one on one, second by second coaching as we rode the course. What normally would have had me knotted and sweaty, morphed into memories of my dad showing me how to ride while running behind me with his hand on my seat. It wasn’t embarrassing or weird, or intimidating in the slightest. Just hearing that voice behind you, and shouts from the chicks waiting their turn, turned the day from a ‘how to’ into one huge bonding session. Soon chicks were videoing each other, showing each other where they were dropping the wrong foot or standing too high, helping to dissect their own and each others bad habits. And with the usual feminine  modesty prevailing, the atmosphere was weirdly supportive and fun rather than critical.

When I found out that the group rides during the week, takes weekend trips to downhill and explore the state both on and off-road, I was sold. Finally, a group of like-minded ladies who aren’t going to leave me in the dust, but still ride hard enough to give me lots to learn. Some are already racers, others (like me), getting the hang of a new bike, without the annoyance of being the slow poke of the group.

As I left the group, grinning like an idiot despite learning that I’ve been riding all kinds of wrong for the last 20 years, I realized that for the first time in my life I’d found a whole group of people just like me. Tomboys. Girls who like to get dirty and sweaty, but haven’t turned into dudes while doing it. Girls who aren’t competitive, but who want to keep learning and pushing themselves for no reason other than it feels good. Girls who don’t take it that seriously and who aren’t afraid to curse loudly when it all goes tits up.

And when someone said ‘lets ride Wednesday’.. I realized that these chicas actually recognized one of their own. And want me to be a ‘diva’ too.

6 years of therapy = one morning with some mountain biking chicks.

So I didn’t meet any actual “Diva’s” and I didn’t get that dirty, but I did learn that doing scary things always has a payoff. And doing scary things with girls doesn’t have to mean cliques, discussions about men, feeling old or being frightened by expertise. You might learn something, you definitely will meet some new people and when one chick mentioned that she’d gotten a new dirt bike, well I think I just met my new best friend.

Dilemma: Christmas gifting for kids

American-Girl-DollI don’t have kids.

(shocker)

Or maybe I do, I just haven’t met them yet or I misplaced them somewhere. I am, after all, terribly irresponsible.

However when it comes to Christmas and gifts for kids, I become the worst kind of non parent. The one who tries to overcompensate, fix everything which might be wrong  or bad in their little world AND have the gift be so memorable that they actually use it past December 25th. Clearly not a parent. Its the Aunt curse.

Hello. My name is Aunt<blank>..and I’m a gifting fascist.

I’ve always been obsessed with gift giving. Not in terms of volume but in terms of perfection. I love love love finding the perfect something that I know will result in a) tears of joy b) amazement that I know them so well or c) out and out screams of delight. If someone pees their pants.. I’m not adverse to finding out.

No. Its not selfish or needy or fucked up at all.

And I’m certainly not buying love. Really.

I just think if I’m going to invest my $50 in something, I don’t want it to be tossed aside, regifted or used as a referendum on our relationship for the rest of eternity. Plus parting with cash when I’m in the midst of ‘Debt Free by 2015’ is a bitch. Do you KNOW how much I could be paying off my credit cards if we didn’t have birthdays and Christmas?

(FYI if you’re one of those ‘send love not gifts’ people, stop reading now and to be honest, delete my phone number.. you are dead to me. Gifts rock).

So, armed with a strict budget and a ridiculous deadline (gifts have to sent to the UK before Thanksgiving to even have a hope of getting their before December 25th), I’m Christmas shopping like a motherfucker this week.

Which brings me to my current dilemma. Where as I am content to peruse my mental aisles, the physical stores and chase down the perfect gift that a grown up has asked for .. when it comes to kids I’ve always gone with the ‘anti-norm’. If they’ve asked for it, its not arriving. I am anti pink, anti- fairys, anti- princess and I am certainly anti ‘Easy Bake Oven’. If they want a toy machine gun -fine – but no baking. Not when you’re 6.

Now I’ve not stooped to wooden toys but I refuse to follow the herd of norm with a polyester tutu and a white skinny doll called Bitchface (actually its Barbie, but I prefer Bitchface). Instead I’ve bought books, I’ve bought pirate costumes, swimming pool games and even a roll up piano one year. No dolls, no trends and no no no American kiddie crap.

But this year as the deadline looms and my knowledge of what a precocious, already has more ‘i’ things than me, girlie 8 year old wants is pretty damn thin. I mean, she went to see One Direction this year. An 8 year old. Does this mean I’m meant to accept that she’s already  a tween and head off in search of makeup and CDs? or can I ignore the obvious ‘they grow up so fast now’ torment and try to expand her mind or athletic ability with something less obviously ‘girl’ oriented? Hell I really want to buy her some cool custom Chucks but is she already obsessed with heels? At 8???

Her sister is easy… at 6, she remains a tomboy, she idolizes her sister, reads years above her age and is a pain in the butt..so basically me, 36 years ago. I could shop for her every day of the week and not miss. But a girlie 8 year old? I’m stuck.

So, in my first sign of weakness in years I had to call my sister and actually ask for ideas.

(sob)

The suggestion – American Girl outfits.

American Girl.

The pink palace of polyester playmates.

Can you get more ‘American’ ? More commercial, thoughtless and unimaginative? More girlie and traditional, role reinforcing, anti feminist? My knee jerk reaction is ‘oh hells no’ but I’m desperate. Which means this afternoon I’ll be heading to the mall.

To the mall.

To American Girl.

To buy two outfits (and shoes) for 2 dolls.

Called ‘American Girl’.

I think I’ll need to reread ‘the Female Enuch’ when I get back just to realign my spine.

 

The alternate ‘It Gets Better’ project

It-Gets-Better-LogoAnyone who knows me from a hole in the wall knows that I love Dan Savage. The smart mouthed advice columnist who is responsible for introducing the world to the term ‘Santorum’, ‘GGG’ and ‘monogomish’, Dan and his hoooos-band Terry were also responsible for the remarkable YouTube campaign ‘It Gets Better’.

The couple produced a single video in response to bullying of teens (LGBT in particular), promising that no matter how crappy things are now, it does ‘get better’ as you get older. If you’ve never checked out the actual first video, I highly recommend it (along with the 50,000 other videos on the site) and the overall project was incredibly inspiring to not only LGBT teens, but anyone who felt ‘different’ or was bullied at school. I only wish it had been around when I was a kid.

But… I’m no longer a teen and I’m no longer bullied, but I feel we need a few more ‘it gets better’ projects to help those who feel awkward, different or just having a plain old, ‘life is sucking right now’ period. And I know you’re out there grown ups… I know that we all need an ‘it gets better’ now and again. So here are some of my proposals – Dan – should you want to help out some lesser known ‘minorities’ who are suffering in silence;

1. That bad hair cut

We know the current trend of pixies got you excited and you just decided to go for it, but don’t worry. It will get better. It will grow out. In the meantime, try some blond or red highlights and always remember to wear lipsticks so people don’t call you ‘sonny’ in line at Target.

2. The hole your career slid into

Things have been looking pretty grim of late I know. You were right. You’re boss really doesn’t like you. (Sorry). But it will get better. You’ll find another ally somewhere else in the organization or you’ll land an awesome project where you get to shine for a little while. Or maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be laid off and get to start afresh somewhere where everyone doesn’t know that you slept with Dave from sales. Plus their healthcare plan can’t be any worse!!!

3. Thursday night TV

I know. I hate The Voice too. In fact all singing shows should be sold to Japan and immediately replaced with tap dancing, cooking or dog training shows. Anything except someone else murdering Maria Carey songs from 2003. But don’t worry. It will get better. Parks and Rec will be back in January and hey, maybe by then they’ll have something else to put before and after it that doesn’t make you want to stick a fork in your eye. Maybe it won’t even feature married overweight guys with hot wives?!!!!

4. Those Burpees

Sure right now you’re lying on the floor, coughing your guts up and wondering whether you have the strength in your arms to push up, but one day it will get better. One day, you will be able to jump from a standing position into a full push up and then bounce right back to standing without losing control of your bladder, your lungs or your vision. One day, you will knock those suckers out without even thinking about it. One day, you won’t struggle around on the floor like a dying worm, and you will not want to die… one day. I’ve not yet met anyone who’s reached this place, but I’ve heard a rumor that someone’s girlfriend did them easily once.. so I’m holding out hope that it gets better. I mean, it has to … doesn’t it?

5. Dating

You’ve online dated, you’ve casually hooked up, you’ve proactively searched and you’ve even tried joining those ‘activity groups’ in the hope that you might find a suitable mate who doesn’t annoy the shit out of you after 20 minutes. You’ve considered marrying your dog, and you’re most significant relationship this year is with Showtime.But it does get better. Sure, that goober your sharing a drink with right now isn’t qualified to clean your bathroom but you will meet a nice guy/girl one day, even if you have to clean a Brazilian rainforest of frogs to find them. Plus another martini and even this potential stalker is going to seem a lot more attractive.

6. Those $250 skinny jeans

You were so thin when you bought them and yes, you did look ahmazballs that one time you wore them, but we know the pain you go through in order to even attempt a zip up at the moment. It will get better. You will wear those jeans again and that money won’t be a leering pile of denim that your friend/partner/spouse uses in every argument about money for the next 3 years.  You’ll lose that muffin top, you’ll remember that nothing looks as good as skinny feels or you’ll learn not to give a shit and make like everyone else by wearing a super baggy sweater that comes down to your thighs. Or you can wait another 3 years by which time everyone will be back rocking the boot cut or grab some Taco Bell and you’ll be in them by the weekend.

7. Your bank account

We totally agree that you needed that thing that you just bought on line that you really couldn’t afford, but it will get better. When it arrives and you’ve hidden it from your spouse/ self for a little while, you’ll remember why you really needed/wanted it and man, its going to make you feel soooo good. Especially when you put it to its intended use and I promise, people will literally fall in love with you, now that you have that thing. You’ll be smarter, sexier, hotter, faster and damn, you’ll probably get a pay raise as a result. So hey,don’t feel bad. Its going to get a lot better real soon.

Dear men..what women want (no really)

strong_arm_menGuys. Lets talk.

I know you are all unique snowflakes in your own right, and that woman ‘be crazy’ but I think you might benefit from a little insight from the other side of the aisle. No, I am not a Republican, but I am a woman, (unless NPH* is more of your thing), well I represent what you’re looking for.

(NOTE – I said “represent” not “am”. I’m confident not insane.)

And as the nominated representative of the Republic of Women, I need to let you know – that contrary to popular opinion, it’s not about your face, your wallet or your car. It’s not about whether you can gift us with babies and to be honest, we could give two shits about your ability to bench 250. Ask any single woman over 35 what she’s looking for and she’ll say pretty much the same thing. She wants (in no particular order)

  • Honesty
  • Loyalty
  • Kindness
  • Good manners
  • A great smile
  • Conversation
  • A little edge

Sure there are a thousand other attributes that you can add to that list**, but once you strip away the must haves from the nice to haves, the needs from the wants.. we all want the same thing. A good guy. With a little edge.. just to keep us on our toes.

But.. but… but.. yes, I hear you. Women want everything. And why not?  Wishing and optimism is part of life. But what we need, well again, its pretty simple. everything really boils down to 7 things. Non of which pertains to your golden love juice, a $40,000 wedding or removing your balls. No matter what you think. Let me explain.

Honesty

Of course you’re nodding your head. The last thing you stole was Pop Rox and the last lie was ‘more of a fib’ so you’re honest. But are you really honest?

The dictionary defines honesty as “Marked by or displaying integrity; upright” and “Not deceptive or fraudulent; genuine”  True integrity in everything you do and say honest? Hmmmm. Starting to look a little less easy isn’t it…?

(and don’t start throwing women back at me.. this is about you guys).

If you define honest as ‘not lying’ then yes, all men are honest. All of them. Because men tend to be honest via omission. If you didn’t say it, then you’re not lying…right? You didn’t say that you’re not sleeping around, still dating other women, are sexting your ex.. so you’re not technically lying are you? True. But you’re not being honest. Deception by omission is so commonplace most people don’t even think about it. But women, it’s the cornerstone of why we don’t trust guys further than we throw them. Because we know what you’re not saying is more important than what’s coming out of your mouth.

Now a relationship or dating isn’t a deposition; there are no contracts and no-one is swearing on a bible, but honesty.. living your life without omission or deception.. it’s the holy grail for women. And yes, while it’s as rare as George Clooney in a committed long-term relationship, it doesn’t stop us from wanting it.

Loyalty

This one is easier to define ‘ feeling or attitude of devoted attachment and affection’, but in women speak its even easier: ‘I trust that you’re in my corner’. We want to know you’re on our side. Sure it has to be earned – we don’t expect you to be in our corner on a first date – but we need to know that we can rely on you… because as women, we’ve always got your back. Its part of that damned maternal/ caring thing in our genes. We can’t help ourselves.  Which means – if you’re on our side – you can’t treat us as ‘the enemy’. We’re not, despite what you think, out to get you.  We just want to know that if our house burns down you’re the one helping rescue the dog, not pouring gas on the flames. Trust, reliability, loyalty.. call it what you will. Its at the top of our list.

Kindness

I know, you’re suddenly feeling like it would be easier to buy a fancier car than this list…but kindness is key. Kindness is ‘friendly, generous, or warm-hearted nature’ ‘Humane; considerate’ ‘generous, tolerant’. Sound a bit wussy for you? Well kindness can be as simple as making someone tea after a bad day. Saying nothing instead of being mean. Accepting that everyone messes up and not carrying the chip forever. Kindness isn’t wussy.. its friggin hard. One of my friends is a moody bitch on occasion but instead of indulging her irrational anger, her husband simply leaves the house, takes the dog and walks to the store to buy her candy. That’s kindness. Its the ability to acknowledge human-ness and not hold imperfection against someone.

Good manners

This shouldn’t need to be said but good manners are really lacking in men these days. And Unfortunately no-one told women that manners were verboten, because we still bizarrely – appreciate them. And yes, this means more than just opening the car door. Its treating servers, waitstaff and everyone you come into contact with respectfully, including us.  Politeness, returning a call, being patient, turning up on time, saying thank you.. we notice. We do. And its sexy. Screw the fancy car and the $200 jeans, we’ll take manners every time.

A great smile

Nuff said really. A great smile is almost always the top of any list that women make on what attracts them to men. Which is weird then you look at most online profiles. So many miserable or ‘Blue Steel’ poses. What gives? A smile shows a lightness of spirit, joy and enthusiasm.  It costs nothing and we’ll remember it a lot longer than whatever you were wearing.

Conversation

Most women are talked into bed. Ok, some are also drunk into bed, but mostly we’re talked there. And while I’m not the most girlie of women, I, like most women, love to converse. NOTE: converse.. not talk. A conversation is one which goes back and forth, sallies into random tributaries and circles around but it involves two people. It draws out the thoughts and ideas of the other person, it rejoices in connection points and it cannot be understated as the seducer of women. And no, talking about that one time when you got sooo drunk isn’t conversation nor is spending the evening talking about yourself.  That’s a monologue and it says ‘I’m the most interesting person in this conversation’. And if you’re not interested in us and what we’re up to, thinking or feeling.. well..whats the point?

A little edge

The one is harder to define but all women look for it. We want you to be honest, to be loyal and to be kind.. but we also want a little ‘edge’. We don’t want to date a doormat. Milquetoast man is not getting laid. We need to know there is more to you, much more, than what we see. God knows if we’re going to be talking to you for the next 3-6 months (40 years???) there needs to be a suggestion that there is still some mystery. Some depth. A sense of confidence and quiet power. And no, edge does not translate to bad boy behavior or getting a sleeve tattoo.. it’s keeping us slightly guessing. On our toes. Making us want to keep seducing you for as long as we’re together. I guess the simplest explanation is ‘not getting too too comfortable’. And yes, gaining 30lbs and living in sweatpants would be getting too comfortable. That guy.. no edge.

***
So there you have it, menfolk. Stop reading those ‘Game’ websites or trying to ‘play’ us into bed. What women want isn’t complicated.. its just hard.

But you’re men.. you can handle it.

*Neil Patrick Harris. God of all that is ‘awesome’ and erstwhile friend of Dorothy.

** Being good at sex doesn’t hurt either

Lies I’ve been told: The Men Edition

PinochioA report out today said that within the US, the average person tells 13 lies every day (and yes, I totally made that up). But lies are a fact (?) of life.. and over time you get pretty savvy about being able to spot them. The lies men tell you? Well lets just say us ladies spend a lot of time on the learning curve.

Here are some of the lies I’ve been told… read them, remember them and don’t be fooled. Sorry but he’s not different and yes, he is lying.

I forgot my wallet

Unless the guy is standing in front of you with no pants .. sorry but he’s lying. Unlike women, men have pockets for 2 things – keys and money. So unless he forgot to put on pants, he didn’t forget.. he chose to leave his money at home.  Which means you’re paying.. something he decided before you’d even put on your underwear.  I fell for this one so many times with one guy that I actually bought him a wallet chain. Which he ‘lost’.

Yes.. I was that gullible.

I love women who don’t wear makeup

No, no you don’t. What you think you like – me au natural -is the result of 15 minutes of tinted moisturizer, concealer, powder, eyeliner, blush and lip tint. Those times when you think I’m looking a bit ill? That’s me without makeup. However this one isn’t a lie they know they’re telling.. so I guess they get a pass.

I think you look gorgeous at any size

Aka.. yes your butt does look fat in that. He’ll never say it, but this lie generally means ‘you could lose a few’. Sure he thinks you look gorgeous. After all, you are the one who’s sleeping with him and hell, if he didn’t find you attractive he wouldn’t be doing that. But ‘gorgeous at any size’? Really? Honey Boo Boo mother size? Gabourey Sidibe (aka Precious) size? I’m going to go with –no– but thanks for being nice.

I love dogs

Yes all men love dogs. In fact most men love dogs SO much they’d totally have one or two.. except they just don’t have time for one right now. But they love them…right up to around Date 4 when they suddenly find that they don’t love dogs as much as they thought. “Do you have to bring your dog over with you?” “Does your dog have to watch us in bed?” “Why can’t your dog stay at home over night without you?” “Can your dog sleep outside the tent cos he’s kind of stinky?” Reality – the only guys who love dogs are those who have them. The rest.. well they’re just ashamed cat people.

I don’t have time for a relationship right now

What he means is ‘with you’. In fact, the only time he has available for you is when he’s had 7 beers and is feeling kinda horny, or he needs an ego boost. Its been said a million times, but if a guy wants to be with you.. he’ll make time. Even POTUS makes time. If he can’t make time.. its because he doesn’t want to.  Weirdly enough, guys rarely say that don’t have time for a shag… why is that? Hmmmm.

I’ll call you.

No. No you won’t. The guy who wants to see you again actually says ‘we’ll talk soon’ or ‘I’ll give you a ring on Tuesday’ or even ‘See you again soon’.  But pay close attention.. a guy who isn’t going to call, always .. to a man.. says ‘I’ll call you’. Why? What you didn’t hear was the word ‘never‘ that he mentally added to the sentence. So while you’re checking your phone every 10 minutes for the next 6 days, he’s already forgotten your name. So if you hear those words at the end of your date, I’m sorry but save yourself some time.

I’ll just put in the tip

.. quickly followed by everything else. Don’t fall for this lie ladies.. Just as no man ever climbed up Everest but stopped 10 feet from the top because he figured ‘good enough’, no guy has ever gotten into your pants for ‘just the tip’.  He’s planting the flag ladies, regardless of what he says.

Porn does nothing for me.

Rigghhhhhttt.  Ladies, every guy looks at porn. Every. single. one. And no, your guy isn’t different. He’s lying. In fact, last year a group of researchers in Montreal were unable to carry out a study comparing the views of men who had never watched porn with those of regular users.  Why? Because they couldn’t find any men who didn’t look at porn. Non. Because all guys look at porn. Which has to lead me to the conclusion that it does do something for guys. All guys. (sorry).

And finally.. sadly…

Of course I love you

Skrrreeek. Everyone loves to hear ‘I Love You’ but when he adds qualifiers or modifiers around those three delightful words… well… hate to break it…. but ….well.. he might not, actually, love you. What he is actually saying is more along the lines of ‘Do we really need to get into this now?’ or ‘I don’t, but I really don’t want to have to break up with you just yet’ or ‘women.. so damn insecure’. None of which are actually a declaration of love. And don’t get me started on that whole Patrick Swayze ‘ditto’ crap… that’s about as loving as pottery is sexy.

(NOTE: I asked a girlfriend for some of the lies that men have told her and she replied ‘Sorry but I’ve never been lied to by a man’……yes, I’m still laughing)

Chick flicks that won’t ever get made

lose a guyI love a good chick flick. Boy meets girl, misunderstanding occurs, she’s adorable, he’s handsome and disarming, everything works out in the end. Its like taking a warm bath in fantasy land as defined by every storybook and Disney cartoon. And while we love to settle down on a Saturday afternoon with some TBS reruns, we (me and eleventy million other people) know it isn’t always that simple.

Chick flicks are to reality what weddings are to marriage. A pristine, untarnished fantasy. But unfortunately, as a single chick who’s spent more than a few nights in with Netflixs, watching chick movies tends to reset your expectations at somewhat (eye roll) of an unrealistic level. After a steady diet of Kate Hudson, Katherine Heigl, Meg Ryan and Julie Roberts, how can you not have unrealistic ideas of what a relationship, or even dating looks like?  Me.. I’d like to see some chick flicks that are a little more reflective of ‘real life’.

How to Lose a Guy in 2 Dates

Kate meets Matthew in a bar where he decides to hit on her because she’s not slutty or fat, has bright blond hair and he needs a date for a company bash. He’s completely career obsessed and only dates women in order to further his career. They engage in major eye fuckery and she gets on his motorcycle back to his apartment. She doesn’t want to have sex and he’s all kinds of pissed off. For their second date they head to the basketball game where she eats food while wearing a sporting jersey that is not form fitting in the slightest. He is repulsed. He never returns her texts or phone calls. She spends the next 6 months wondering what happened.  The End.

Pretty Hooker

Richard is career obsessed and doesn’t have the time to indulge the time and effort of dating. He hires a hooker for a weekend while he’s in LA. The hooker has terrible taste in clothes but is willing to be his designated driver so he gives her some cash and tells her to ‘smarten up’. She buys 20 outfits and spends a huge amount of cash, but she’s willing to have sex with him on a piano so he decides to keep her around for a few more days. His finishes his business deal and he leaves town. She takes the money he leaves for her on the nightstand and develops a major crack habit. The End.

You’re Never Getting Mail

Meg meets Tom online. They chat and he suggests meeting. Her shop is going out of business and she insists on dressing like a frigid lesbian, but she does have nice hair so he sticks around to see if she’s worth dating. He’s a bit put off that she spends her time boxing the air and twirling while her business crumbles around her, but she does have nice hair. He runs into her at the grocery store where she’s forgotten her cash. He quickly realizes she is an air-headed idiot and leaves her standing in line with her groceries. He stops chatting to strangers online and starts dating someone who shows some cleavage who he met in a bar. Meg goes out of business and winds up reading stories to kids at Barnes and Noble for $9/hr.  Tom takes his wife out sailing. The End.

Knocked Down

Katherine meets Seth at a club, has unprotected sex and becomes pregnant. She wakes up, sees how ugly and lazy of a stoner he is and decides to have an abortion. They never see each other again and she gets a promotion at work. The End.

The Wedding Planner

Jennifer plans weddings. She falls in love with a groom of one wedding. He’s flirtatious and she totally thinks he’s going to leave his fiance. He doesn’t. He gets married. She goes home to her tv dinner and perfectly folded napkin. Her dad tries to fix her up with a man-boy who she marries out of fear of ending up alone. He can’t speak english very well but he’s better than nothing. The End.

The Proposal

Sandy’s green card has expired and she needs to get married asap. She makes one of her subordinates marry her to stay in the country. He is rich and handsome so he sues for harassment and she is deported. He gets her job. The End.

And finally..

Bridget Jones Diary

Bridget is fat and in love with her boss. He knows this and decides to sleep with her. She thinks she’s in a relationship. He is dating and sleeping with other women. She finds out but doesn’t stop dating him. She thinks he’ll change if she turns a blind eye. One night at a party she is approached by a tall man who is rude and stiff who she thinks is really boring. She ignores him, goes home and writes mean stuff about him on her blog. Her boss dumps her and she decides to adopt some cats. The End.

Boom. You’re welcome America.

If I had a million dollars.. I’d be rich?

moneyYesterday as I stopped by my local gas station for my mid week ‘pick-me’up’ (aka a Peppermint Patty and a lottery ticket), I noticed a handwritten sign taped to the cash register;

‘$500 winning scratch ticket sold here”

Which made me smile and briefly think how thrilled that person must have been to find three numbers that actually matched on his (or her) card and what they did with that extra moola. (Stuart Weizman, size 7, black and white 4 inch lace ups for me..thankyou).

But then, as I walked home I realize how paltry that sum really is – even as a ‘drop in your lap’ surprise. $500?  So someone made a car payment and ordered takeout or maybe got their car brakes fixed? Hardly a life changer. But what sum of money actually would be these days? $10,000 or $100,000, a cool million or would it need to be more?

So, in the interests of research (and because Ink Master was over), I decided to work it out how winning money would actually impact my life. Because you know.. it could happen.

1. Dropping $10,000 in a bucket

While this looks sizeable and I already can imagine the stack of notes in my hand, $10,000 is actually nothing. Once the tax man has hit it, you’re left with about $6,500 (fed tax rate on winnings is 35%). So how do you spend the enormity of $6,500? Well of course if you’re – like me – swathed in credit cards, you probably push $6K in the direction of one, have a nice meal and maybe treat yourself to those special shoes. And that would be it. Over in literally one day.  Life changing? Hardly. (which doesn’t meant I wouldn’t love $10,000.. but hey, if I’m winning something I’m gonna aim higher). Suddenly that $500 winning celebration seems kinda of mocking doesn’t it?

2. Getting Sensible with $100,000

Now we’re talking. For most everyone (unless you have some serious gambling debt), this one is going to have some serious impact on how well you sleep at night. Remember its only going to be $65K when Mr.IRS has finished with you but  you can probably say goodbye to that credit card debt and maybe your car loan too. Leftovers? How about paying a bit into your savings and maybe hitting the ‘three month of living expenses’ mark?  I’d still get those shoes.. but if I managed all of the above.. that’s about all I’d be getting.  Of course if I had a few Tequilas I might say screw the savings and take that trip to Bora Bora I’ve been longing for but to be honest.. I’d take sleeping at night over any vacation. Suddenly even $100K is looking a bit on the low side isn’t it? No real life changers happening and I’m certainly not investing in a gold grill or mink pajamas at this winning point. *Sigh* I’ll just have to win bigger.

3. If I had $1,000,000.. I’d be rich?

And momentarily I would probably think so… except.. except… A million ain’t what it used to be. (first world problems I know.. but still that’s where I live). After Mr.Fuck You has visited I’ve got $650,000.  Really starting to not like the tax man at this point…

Damn I’ve always wanted a Porsche… but… lets take care of some reality first. Once I’ve done the sensible stuff (see #2) I’ve got probably $575K left. Actually lets look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs before I start test driving… now where am I?

Maslows-Hierarchy-of-Needs

Goddamn it.. I’m still right at the bottom.  Time to get on that property ladder and buy a house.  And, factoring in moving expenses, rent termination and Colorado property prices… would be it.

DAMN. All that money and I’m still driving a Toyota and I’ve still not taking a damn vacation. Gotta go bigger.

4. $10,000,000: Mo money, mo problems

But the bitch ain’t wanna them. No, at $10 mill, I’m certainly not bitching. Mentally I’m starting to think that I’m entering JLo territory and a small yappy dog is going to feature in my future.. but lets get real first. So its actually more like $6.5million (still a number that makes me giddy) but with all of that potential tax I’m hiring a tax accountant to see if he can figure out some workarounds to get that number up. I really don’t want to be handing over $3.5 million to Mr.IRS. Yes, at $10 mill, I’ve become a Republican. Its my money goddamn it…Holy shit. Well they do say money changes things.. apparently ME.

But back to my steaming pile of $50s. I’ve taken care of #2 and #3 – I’ve got myself a nice 2 bedroom and I’m debt free, so what’s next? Building a village in Africa? Donating to the poor? Umm… lets just wait a second and get back to that heirarchy of needs. I think I might have bounced off the bottom by buying a house but with $10 million, I want to take care of others -like my family. Lets see.. paying off my sisters house, establishing a college fund for her kids and plumping up my parents retirement accounts… that wipes out a few million. Leaving me with a few – lets say $3M. Now what? Well goddam it, I’m definitely taking that vacation and buying a new mountain bike. I actually like my Toyota so I think I’ll add to my stable with another Guzzi. And maybe some shoes.. a few purses. Purely so I feel like I’m getting some enjoyment here… but can I retire? On $2.5 million? Touch and go. With today’s markets and my ill informed decision making I’m going to say no. Maybe I can take a sabbatical for a year to write a book.. but retirement? And shit, I haven’t even donated anything yet, not even  a single Girl Scout cookie. Nope.. I’m going to need to win more.

(FYI: $10m and I can’t retire… WTF?)

5. $50,000,000 – over and out

Ok this is silly, insane money. This is strangers writing you begging letters money. Walter White money. And its certainly more money and I would ever need in one, two or three lifetimes. Fifty-million-dollars. So ridiculous I can’t even picture what that looks like. Which is a good thing because I don’t have it. And not gonna. But lets play it out…Even after my ever expanding team of accountants, financial advisers and business managers have done their work.. I’m still probably only dealing with $40 mill.. (still.. this is giggling insanity money). I take care of #2-#4 and I’m still left with oooo…$30 mill. THIS is life changing money.. not just mine and my family, but friends, my community and yes, random people who need it. This is retirement, travel the world, make a difference money. Start a dog rescue, seriously shore up my local food bank, help out a friend or 10. Of course my days are now spent thinking about money, spending money and worrying about money.. having so much means I’d constantly worrying about whether its working for me and whether its going to last. Am I investing correctly? Does the Porsche need a service? Do I have the latest ‘it’ bag? Is the maid stealing? (you have to have a house cleaner at $50mill I think) And does this foundation need it more than that other charity? … in fact.. actually.. its all really unappealing. I think about money a few times a day… the idea that my days would be spent thinking about money -all day – urgh….Winning this type of money – a windfall out of nowhere – surely makes you paranoid that it could disappear as quickly as it appeared. Which to me.. wow.. break out the Xanax.

I think I’ll take the $500.

Ok.. maybe the mill. (I’m not that stupid)

Disclaimer: To the man who I looked at in the Apple store

 A look is just a look

Hey Man from the Apple store. It’s me. The chick at the Genius bar who just glanced at you for a microsecond yesterday.

Yes, I know you’re scared.

I can tell from your rictus grin and look of abject horror.

While you might think that nano second when our eyes met has forged a contract in my eyes, and I  now believe us to be married and am in fact impregnated with your firstborn. But honestly it was just a look. Nothing more. I’m sorry. I was just looking around.

I know that you’ve been taught that any unsought attention from a woman signals aggression, obsession and not a small bit of mental illness but honestly, I want you assure you that I’m not psychotic. In fact, I’m quite sane. And no, by glancing at you when I walked up to the Genius bar, we didn’t enter a social contract that now means I’m entitled to 50% of your assets and your parents cabin in Vail. And while I might be guilty of the slightest upturn in my lips, this doesn’t mean that I have already staked out a position in front of your house and poisoned your dog. And while, yes, I did momentarily think you were quite cute, I haven’t actually picked out our china or booked the honeymoon just yet.  It was just a look. A brief appraisal of the Apple store patrons. My eyes literally slid over your face. Nothing more.

Your look of horror was a little overwrought I think. I’m not that unattractive.

And while our eyes did briefly connect, I have not and will not be posting extensive missives on Missed Connections about what just occurred and asking you to contact me. 

But please don’t read this as criticism. Its not. I know that you don’t know what to do in the presence of someone of the opposite sex any more. Women, especially one going about her business while looking people in the eye, can be really very scary. And I realize that you need an app to provide you with detailed instructions on what to do when a woman looks at you, I’m here to tell you its ok.
We’re as confused and nervous as you are. 

Yes, I know that women have spent the last 20 years kicking the shit out of you, behaving like lunatics, desperately trying to get you to ‘define’ your relationship after the second date and trying to find out what your text meant when you used ALL CAPS, but I want to let you know that, honestly, we’re both in the same boat. We don’t know how to talk to you – like a normal person- either. After years of misreading the signals, waiting by the phone, analyzing emails and texts and still managing to completely misjudge the situation, we don’t know how to behave around men at all.
I swear, I had more game in elementary school that I do today.

After receiving years and years of feedback from friends, family, coworkers and, god help us, self help books, we’re trying so hard to be feminine, fun and flirty (but not too much), high value but approachable, aloof and yet warm, open while retaining an air of mystery, that we’re pretty much incapable of opening our mouths at this point.(And to think that we just used to worry about looking cute). We don’t want you to think we’re not interested, nor do we want you to think that we spend out evenings wearing a tin foil hat and pushing a shopping cart. Which results in pretty much staring at our phones and hoping that one day fate will smile on us and you might have some reason to throw us a glance. On occasion we might look up from our phones, and I’m sorry, but you happened to be in my line of sight.

So don’t worry, Man from the Genius Bar, I might have glanced in your general direction, but I wouldn’t be capable of having a conversation with you, a perfect stranger, even if I wanted to. My small talk is limited to obsessing about CrossFit and whether I spend too much time on Facebook. Neither of which makes for a riveting conversation.

In conclusion, I’m sorry if my glance caused you to toss and turn sleeplessly last night. You can cancel the locksmith and no, you don’t need to quit Facebook. You are quite safe. I haven’t Googled your address and no, I won’t be stalking out the Genius bar in the hope that one day you will return to claim me. I assure you, it was just a look.

However, on the off chance that you are feeling brave next time you happen upon a woman who looks you in the eyes with the hint of a smile, I invite you to grow some balls and smile back.
Most of us aren’t crazy. I promise.

"You must be ‘this’ size to work out"

You must be ‘this’ size to work out

One of the challenges I’ve noticed in the US is the prevalence of size-ism. The fact that some brands only go up to size XL or size 12 is a common complaint in the US, despite the average weight for women is 165lbs and men is 191lbs. Yes, as a country we all need to lose weight.
And I think most people know that you lose weight by changing your diet and exercising.. which is where the sizism really kicks in.

As Jezebel recently noted, Lulumon only goes up to size 10 (I weigh 130 and am a size 6-8), and Nike’s Women’s ‘Large’ is barely a size 8.When you check out running brands such as New Balance, Asics and god help you, any cycling brand… well if you’re over 160lbs you’re shit out of luck. Just think ‘Lycra sausage’ and you’re close. In fact, unless you buy your workout gear from Target, Walmart or KMart, (substandard, off brand and again, limited to size S,M, L and XL), your average sporting good store probably doesn’t even carry a size for your average overweight American.  I guess this means women have to wear men’s sizes and men… a trash bag??

As someone who grew up around people who were all sizes, one of the most common excuses I heard for not working out and relying on fad diets was ‘they don’t make workout gear in my size’.
Which is totally irrational:  the people who actually NEED to be working out . can’t buy it? Who made that decision?
Apparently sporting brands don’t actually want non fit (aka fat) people to wear their brand.. in case their brand is tainted by association. Good job they’ve not seen my cellulite.. they’d have my shorts off quicker than Usane Bolt.

Now I understand that brands are aspirational. If I buy the Reebok Nano 3.0 shoe, maybe I’ll be a better Cross fitter; if I buy the new Asic Kayano’s maybe I’ll be able to run further or faster. And don’t get me started on the myth of the Lulumon shorts and tights (yes, your ass does look good doesn’t it?).  But not even making sizes that allow people who want and need to get fitter, to exercise in comfort, to look good and feel good.. its beyond rude. Its offensive. And while I’m not a size L, I care about quite a few larger women and I’m pissed on their behalf.  Especially as they’re forced to take jogs in men’s basketball shorts. Not even men look cute in those. 

But there is one area of sizism that touches all women. Literally. The over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders. Sports bras. No matter what your size, no matter your fitness, we all struggle to find a sports bra that works. Bras have been around since 1889, but the good sports bra remains as elusive as Bigfoot (and equally attractive). Whether your issue is size, weight, lobsided-ness (yes guys, they don’t always come in matching sets), aggressively pointy nipples or complete and utter lack, the sports industry has something to disappoint and embarrass you.

My friend, Linda, suffers from nipple aggression. No, they don’t go out and beat up people, but they do stick out a lot. All the time. And while that’s fine for Jennifer Aniston and her boyfriend, its not something she wants or needs at the gym. (men, stop rolling your eyes.. its just not cool, like a boner at a job interview). You’d think that manufacturers would have figured this out. After all, most gyms are air conditioned. Women have nipples. You do the math. 17 bras later, she still has to stuff her bra with cotton pads to prevent them from sticking out when she works out.

My friend Hope is blessed with an impressive prow. Her ‘sistas’ not only sit high and proud, she’s managed to keep them luscious despite losing most of her body fat over the last 8 months. But can she find a bra that keeps them where they’re meant to go? Held down so that she doesn’t bruise her chin while doing double unders? or suffer serious spillage when she does a burpee? Nope.. as long as I’ve known her she’s had to double up (2 at the same time), or wear something that resembles a parachute. Her sports bra could serve double duty as a strait jacket or a paragliding harness and creates this weird flattened lifejacket around her torso that could repel a stray bullet. If she wears a regular sports bar and does anything resembling exercise, her boobs pop out the top of her bra.. which is never a good look mid marathon.
And this girl is fit and slim… god help those women who are larger..

Another chick in my life, Felicia, has lost oodles of weight over the last 12 months and taken herself from overweight mom of 2  complete with bat wing arms and thigh rubbage, to a lithe and skinny 125lbs who runs every other day. Unfortunately she now needs to origami her boobs into a sports bra, since they don’t make them for sporty women who’ve had kids. Because thats never happened.

And finally there is my chica, Tanya, who apparently went to the gym the day they were handing boobs out and is barely more than two nipples and a hope. Her options are a faux bandeau top that basically shouts ‘Look how flat-chested I am’ or a padded effort that, once sweaty, sags down to her belly button like some National Geographic woman after her 8th child. Either way, she’s not feeling feminine or appealing at the gym. And if you don’t feel good while you’re working out..when are you feeling good?

C’mon Nike, Adidas, Moving Comfort and CXW… How hard is it to make a damn bra?

And while you’re at it.. how about some better guys shorts? You don’t want to see our boobs falling out while you’re lifting.. we don’t need to see major ballage while you’re squatting. Get with the program manufacturers.

The Cross Fit High Five


The (Cross Fit) High Five

One of the things which I find so addicting about Cross Fit is the ‘high five’.

No, I’m not someone who walks around wanting to be hoisted in a chair and crowned.. but rather I delight in the culture of praise, encouragement and kudos that CrossFit engenders.

(And yes, to non Yanks, a ‘high five’ seems weird and terribly cheesy, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.)

In one of my first sessions, a fellow cross fitter coaxed me through my final set with a ‘you got it girl’ and despite me almost dropped the bar in confusion, I found the encouragement strangely effective as I pushed my noodling arms to lift the bar.
The second time it happened I was 35 minutes into the 50 minute slog that is called ‘Murph’ (a killer workout of 100 pullups, 200 pushups and 300 squats, book-ended at the start and finish by a 1 mile run). As I wobbled through my final mile run, I was passed by fellow cross fitters who gave me the ‘high five’, shouted ‘ great job’ and ‘giddy up girl’ all while jogging on wobbly legs themselves.

Despite the alien nature of ‘encouragement’ to a Brit, I cruised through that last mile as though they carried me. It still hurt like hell and I thought I was having a stroke at one point, but at no point was I stopping because I wanted to be worthy of that encouragement that they’d given me.

Now two months into Cross Fit, I find it (almost) natural to offer a ‘high five’ to anyone who’s struggling through a set or who’s ahead of me on a run or who’s just rocking it during a workout. It feels great to acknowledge someone’s achievement and every workout I’m amazed at what my fellow cross fitters try, and do. Plus hell, it feels as good to give as it does to receive.
 

What is that?

Ah yes. Encouragement.

I know that no ‘high five’ is going to lift the bar for me, and the workout isn’t going to end faster with a ‘you got this’, but there’s something in that nanosecond of encouragement that forms a bond. It seems to say something more than ‘good job’, it somehow holds you up, gives you a boost, and for me, lets me know that I’m supported. Even when I feel like I’m sucking and I can see stars out the corners of my eyes.

With my standing ovation back in April and now with Cross Fit I’ve come to realize that value of encouragement. Suddenly, at 41, I realize that a ‘good one’ or ‘you rock’  does wonders for my self confidence and (crazy!) is helping me be better. I start to believe in myself (because others do), and things I never thought I could do… well I’m taking them on. Dropping them on my knees a lot (my knees are a mess), but taking them on.
I’m sure someone, at some time, gave me praise and encouragement but this year, I’ve finally started to hear it. And it blows me away every time. Its like nitro to my psyche.

Which brings to me other areas of my life. Unlike Cross Fit, its not the norm to say ‘you rock’ or ‘you got this’ in the normal scheme of things. Dudes high five each other all the time, but its uncomfortable to say to a woman without receiving a rolled eye or a sarcastic response. We just don’t do it and if we do, the normal response, especially from women, is to play down the positive feedback, even throw it back as ‘I don’t do that’. We don’t want to hear it and we certainly don’t listen hard enough to actually feel the verbal support that’s being offered.

In the past few weeks I’ve high fived several dudes, a coworker and yes, even a date (actually, I think he high fived me). And yet I’m surrounded by women who I now want to ‘high five’ but I’m not sure how. 

  • My sister, who lost 65lbs in 6 months, then started running and boot camp at the age of 42.
  • My girlfriend who lost her mother and went through major surgery in the last few weeks and is just doing so, so well
  • My dearest friend, Hope, who’s learning about herself and changing life learned attitudes in order to grow
  • A friend with head trauma who’s raising a family and fighting to make it work 
  • My girlfriend Ann who navigated the maze that is the housing market and managed to walk away ahead (and with a kickass house)
  • My work colleagues who bang their head on our glass ceiling every day and yet stick it out, bringing other women along with them and still keep on trying
  • And finally, to all those chicas who’ve dealt with shit and who just soldier on, keeping the kids fed and alive (how? how?), marriages working and still find time to  race bikes or run marathons or introduce me to Cross Fit

Awesome… every one.

 I wish there was a meaningful code that women had to offer encouragement to the people in our lives that didn’t raise questions about our sanity, sexual orientation or whether we found God over the weekend. That wasn’t cheesy or easy, had meaning and wasn’t dismissed. I’m no good at hugging and frankly most of them are too far away for me to do that.. but until then I guess I’ll just mentally ‘high five’ them, let them know that I’m there and that I think they’re just badass.

Giddy up girls.

Vacation blues

Vacation. Vacation. Vacation.

Before the age of 40, this word was something for other people.

I grew up with  parents who camped. As in tents. In the rain. In the UK. Sure we made it to Germany and Italy a few times (still in the tent), but largely my remembrances of ‘vacation’ are of rain trickling down the inside of the fly sheet and yet another game of solitaire on my damp sleeping bag. We upgraded to an Airstream in the late 80’s but by then, all I was hankering for was some privacy and the opportunity to put on dry clothes once in a while. A pool? that was for other people and the idea of flying to another country to take a break.. well that was just showing off. We had the sea (a balmy 45 degrees) and our trusty station wagon with the 8 track tapes of John Denver and Abba. Yes, we were the British Griswolds. Vacations meant work and total relief when they were over, not least from my Dad, who seemed to spend each one with veins popping on his forehead.

By the time I reached adulthood, my ‘vacations’ typically meant a trip back to rainy Blightly to visit the ‘rents and my sister, confirming that a) I was still eating my greens, b) I was still part of the family even though I now resided 3200 miles away and c) guilt gets me on a plane.
In my first 10 years living in the US I took over 25 trips home (5 in one year)… so vacation typically involved not a lot of relaxing, but an awful lot of rain, tea and sleeping in my childhood bed.
On the good side I met my nieces and stocked up on clothing that fit, on the downside, it wasn’t what I’d call a ‘holiday’. But I considered it the price I had to pay in order to have 50 other weeks of the year to myself so I didn’t question it. Instead I squeezed in long weekend ‘vacations’ that, limited by funds (those international trips are pricey), typically involved camping and/or mountain biking. Which is cheap, fun, totally healthy but lets face it, not terribly relaxing when you spend your nights wide eyed and waiting for the reenactment of ‘Grizzly Man’. I can still can’t lie in a tent without hearing an German intonation of ‘ I believe the common character of the universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility, and murder’. Yep, nice bedtime thoughts on vacation. 

I love backpacking and camping. You wake when its light, you sleep when it dark and its totally acceptable not to shower for 3 days and live on beer. If you’re riding, there isn’t anything to think about except the trail, the mosquitoes eating your ass and whether you have enough water to make it back to camp. If you’re backpacking, its just one step in front of another for hours and hours. So kind of relaxing. I certainly wasn’t thinking about cleaning my bathroom or a new pair of Stuart Weizmanns at the time.

But then I got older and had my first taste of a true vacation. You know, the one involving a hotel, a beach, surf and that irreplaceable smell of burnt skin and suntan lotion. Kauai. My second home and the only place I think of when I hear the word vacation. I even say the world ‘vaaaccccation’ when I think of the beach, lunches of Bubba’s burgers and waking to the sound of chickens.
Sure I like visiting places, meeting new people and exploring new cultures.. but when I need to relax, all I need is Kauai. It never changes, I don’t feel weird being on my own and I’ve met some awesome people in bars, on the beach, in a kayak.. you name it. The snorkeling is unbelivable (I ran into a massive turtle last year) and there’s only on road on the island, so its hard to get lost.
One day I’ll explore China and Asia,  climb a mountain or two and France is probably due for a return visit.. but for relaxing… mmmmm…. Kauai.

But, after my money pit house and my horrific year of bad financial outcomes I’ve had to swear off vacations for a while. At least the ones involving beaches and hotel beds. And certainly ones in the middle of the Pacific. Debt takes a long time to get rid of and no amount of justification will enable me to get on a plane and head west to relax. Instead it’s going to be a summer of Thermarests and sleeping bags, short trips to visit friends and lots of ignoring that ‘Kauai’ voice in my head.

On the plus side my apartment does have a swimming pool, so maybe I can scrunch up my eyes, download some ‘sounds of the surf’ and pretend like I’m in the place I want to be. There won’t be sand or chickens or Bubbas, and my chance of seeing a whale or a seal is pretty much zero.. but hey, its Colorado, you never know whats coming out of the sky next.

Desire and the gender gap

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article that reinforced the ‘differing expectations of women’ compared to men around the topic of sex. Subtitled, ‘When He Says More and She Says No’ (making me irate before I even read the thing), the piece traveled down the hackneyed path that men want more sex than women, women are frigid..yada yada… yawn. What left me agog mid way through the piece was the proposition that men need to have sex because its their only way of expressing emotion, whereas women have these things called friends, family and phones. Poor Mr.Man, according to the WSJ, doesn’t have any other outlet of feelings of well being (Um.. I think my ex found ‘Jugs’ quite supportive), so to deprive him of sex.. well that’s tantamount to emotional damage. So really women need to put up and shut up if they don’t want hubby arriving home with an shotgun. The outcome of the piece was that Ms. Mower, aka the frigid Mormon we’ve been tracking, decides to ‘raise her game’ for the sake of her husband’s emotional health. At which point I ground my teeth to numbs and had to take a Valium.

I left my marriage because my husband took 2 years off from marital ‘entertainment’ (he was ‘tired’ apparently), so the idea of the ‘frigid’ wife has always rubbed me the wrong way (well something had to) and this article was no exception. Not only for reinforcing the notion that women don’t want to have sex, but that women need to ‘raise their game’ in order to meet some ‘norm’. Nowhere in the article was the term ‘sexual compatibility’ mentioned and I couldn’t help me wonder if the article would have been written if it had been the male half of the equation who hadn’t been putting out.

By the time I was able to stop screaming at my laptop screen, Salon.com reached out asking women whether the gender gap around sexual desire was actually that great. The response illuminated that, per my experience, there seem to be thousands of women who confessed that their husbands, partners, BCs, weren’t actually as driven as they were..(despite all that emotional support, we apparently still need to get some)… and that the stereotype of the frigid female isn’t quite as robust as the WSJ would have us believe. Phew.. so its not just me.

What really made me spit tea over my screen was Salon’s research that indicated female desire may actually be higher than mens… its just we have different sexual desire patterns. Women experience ‘responsive desire’ (i.e someone touches us and we’re good to go), where as men experience ‘spontaneous desire’ (i.e. I like that chair, hmm I need to have sex now). Holy cow… I totally agree with something on the internet… what can I say, it was a first and reinforced my own belief that I’m not lacking in desire.. I’m just lacking in someone to spark it off. And hence, if the guy isn’t creating something to respond to – that kiss, that nuzzle.. hell, a cup of tea.. well women have a hard time getting in the mood. We don’t do ‘spontaneous desire’.

Thinking back to the recent retirement of my BC, I realized the gap that night.. I had really really wanted to respond to something, but getting nothing from him.. wound up more interested in nap than nooky. He apparently had seen a good looking chair earlier and was good to go.
Well Mr. BC, according to Salon.. its not me, its my hormones.

So dudes, apparently its not hard (arf arf), you just need to reach out and touch someone. And no, this doesn’t give you license to moan about always being the initiator.. we don’t need much. A kiss, a caress, a nuzzle, a hand in the small of our back… just don’t expect us to suddenly rip off your clothes in the middle of Whole Foods. We apparently don’t work like that. 

Making up with makeup

Growing up in 1970’s Britain, make up was generally something for hookers and tarts. British women embraced the ‘natural look’ not because we’re in any way beautiful (have you seen Kate Middleton before she was Kate Middleton?), but because bothering about how your face looked was generally seen as extreme vanity or for those who were  a bit ‘full of themselves’. For a culture built on trying not to stand out, trying too hard to improve your looks was seen as tacky, hiding something or, god forbid, trying to be ‘better’ than your neighbor.

America couldn’t be more different. A country built on self improvement and betterment, America (to those who aren’t), is a country of insanely made up women. Beautiful women who can wield a eyeshadow at birth and haven’t been seen naked faced since middle school. Moving here in my 20’s, I marveled at the manicured hands, the dramatic brows, the eyeshadow and lipstick of every woman I saw on the street – in Denver no less. The home of Crocs. I couldn’t believe that every female woke up and performed ‘art’ on their face, before heading out on the door. I could barely get the sleep out of my eyes. It seemed so elaborate, so indulgent, so much effort in order to look slightly prettier than normal. Like professional sports and the missionary position, I didn’t get the allure.

My mother had a lipstick. 1. Which was applied for Christmas work dinners or maybe New Years eve. I seem to remember it being replaced only once it cracked and dried out. She also had a mascara block, a solid square of black goo which was rubbed with a tiny toothbrush and then applied to eyelashes. That was her process. 2 minutes in the bathroom and lipstick on her teeth as she headed out the door. It didn’t set a good precedent for me. Make up didn’t seem to do much except make your lips a weird orange color and your eyelashes blobby.

After a few years in the US, I attended a make up party. Just to see how it worked, you know.. in case I every decided to put some on for a party or something. A good friend of mine, a former actress, walked us through the basics of makeup application. I assumed it was maybe a 5 minute thing which I could use when I was feeling fancy.

Holy shit! Primer, concealer, foundation.. it was like building a house. And that was before you even starting any painting. Eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow, blush, shaders, bronzers, eyebrow gel, lip liner, lip stick, lip gloss. My list of what I would need to replicate her dewy, natural looking beauty covered two sides of my notebook and seemed like it would take me at least an afternoon to get through. Jeez.. I’d need to start the night before if I was going to get it all done. And every day???? Oh hell no.
I clutched my trusty tinted lip balm and called it good.

I resigned myself to a few forays into lipstick (I also wear it on my teeth, just like my mother), and eyeshadow (I looked like Mortica no matter what I tried), but I always looked like what I was – someone who didn’t know what she was doing, and I rarely came out the other side looking better. Usually I looked like a tranny. I didn’t care  – I was used to my high shine forehead in every photo. But then I turned 40.

The tiny lines and crows feet which hadn’t bothered me before, suddenly seemed crevasse-like on Facebook. When I looked in the mirror, all I saw were age spots from my hours outdoors and creases from my ever increasing workload. My lips seemed to have shrunk and when did I develop such huge pores? This wasn’t a question of vanity, it was personal dignity. I decided to man up and make up with the idea of make up.

My trusted friend took me by the hand, scaled down her process by about 90% and taught me the basics that every American woman seems to be born knowing how to do. I learned how to look less tranny in eyeshadow and I no longer paint my teeth with lipstick. I can hid my acne scars and I don’t look like I’m wearing a mask. I can ‘put on my face’ in about 5 minutes and it only involves 4 things, one of which is moisturizer. I look more put together, less blotchy and slightly less wrinkled.

I’ll never be one of those American women who look effortlessly beautiful and put together, and I still look like a deer in the headlights every time I hit a make up counter, but I’ve made up with the idea of make up. Now waxing… that’s a whole other story.

Dating ‘normal’

Unexpectedly I found myself on a date with a non hippy, (body part, not ethos), sane, good looking dude one Friday night. I had a scotch or three to celebrate.
Interesting? check. Passionate about his job? check. Good body? big check. Eyes? two, facing forward and aligned, check. Single? check. Chemistry? ummmmmm????

Here’s the kicker. The guy had no edge. Either he was hiding it in his pants or he really was the ‘what you see… ‘ guy. Which threw me for a loop. Where was his self obsessed monologue on his activities?  His off handed criticism of former partners? Slightly sexist comment about my career? Nada.  None of it. Instead, I just had a great date. Which ended at 1am and a request for a second date that following Sunday.

Second date – snowshoeing – gave me the ideal opportunity to dig around his personality to find his edge, plus check out his ass in snow pants (hey, these things are important in Colorado). Damn. He passed that test. Clearly he’s drinking blood or sucking down HGH because this guy does not look his age in the clarity of daylight.
So we hike. And we chat. Well he chats, I’m conserving oxygen and watching him slowly wilt. And again, no edge. He’s open, apparently honest and not hiding much – but with some boundaries. All very appropriate and proper.

The problem becomes apparent- its me. I’m not used to normal people. Certainly not guys I’m on a date with. By now we’ve hit the sheets and he’s already picking out rings as I’m making for the door.  Or I’m planning our vacation and he’s out the door. Instead this guys is telling me about how he took care of his Mum when she was terminally ill with lung cancer. Seriously. He’s that nice. He’s making me laugh, calling me on being harsh and generally acting like a good friend.

The result – I’ve never felt like more of a freak as it becomes clear… this guys wants us to be friends and get to know each other before anything happens. Did this guy write a dating book? I’m floored. Stunned. What a pity that I find him so boring. See? this is what dating does to you..I can’t be attracted to normal. I don’t know what to do with nice or normal.

Now help me find a guy who’s completely career obsessed or has a burgeoning drinking problem please. That I can deal with.

The Crush

Five weeks into my new budgeted/clean living/ lord this is boring program, my brain turns to the one thing I’ve not renounced. Crushes.

You remember – daydreams based on nothing except beautiful eyes and a delicious drawl, the ‘I daren’t look at you or you’ll know’ interactions, considering and changing clothes before the most innocent of meetings. Clearly with little on my brain except my sputtering lack of a career, the transparency of my bank account and increasing numbers on the scale I know a crush is just a distraction. But its free, its innocent and until Google finds a way to share your searches.. relatively harmless (unless you start driving my his house, in which case, you’re on your own sista).
Just something to give a little ‘oomph’ to your step and frankly, give you a reason to wash your hair on the weekends.

I revel in the secrecy of a new crush, which I hug to myself, fantasizing about the possibility (and fear) of reciprocation and delighting in his presence. Of course, I’m still me which means I know this has a shelf life of about 6 weeks, the reality could probably shorten that to a few hours and really, with nothing in common, I’d be bored by the end of a date. But for now, its delicious to fantasize. 

I’ve had crushes on 5 ft 5 yoga instructors, pear shaped IT help-desk nerds, the guy who fixes my bike and even a former boss who was nicknamed, unfortunately, Mr. Potato-head. Its not about beauty or suitability and often its totally random, but something in my brain just goes off and I instantly created an entire story about that person based on a single flick of a phone, a frown and even, yes, the way someone walks. Based on my internal back-story, this person is  exactly what I’ve been missing, they’re sexual napalm and damn, if only… if only.  
Of course Mr. Potato Head probably was just as dull as his Nordstom casuals wardrobe, and I honestly fell out of crush-ville when my pear shaped guy stood up.. but for a fleeting hour, day or week..I was 15 and drafting love notes in my head. 

And frankly, anything that makes me feel 15 and doesn’t involve cradle robbing or crop tops is fine by me. 



Boomerangs: Those ones who never quite go away

It seems that many of us (well… me anyway), tend to have at least one guy/girl in our life who never quite goes away. You know the one.. the one you probably been erased at least once in a fit of pique, who never quite dates you, but never quite goes away. Like a boomerang – albeit one with a very long trajectory. And despite the history of complete unreliability, we accept their ‘in then out then in’ presence in our life.

 Why?
Generally.. you can configure the desirability of any guy is conversely related to how much attention he delivers. Always late, never calls, texts you only when he’s drunk or lonely, disappears for months at a time… ? Sadly, even at the age of 40ish, and with complete awareness, we fall for it again and again.  The date who calls us, texts us, arrive on time and generally behaves in a completely desirable and upstanding manner? Nah… no ‘chemistry’.

 We’re just hooked on the drama of being kept on our toes.

 ‘Maybe this time he’s changed’
 ‘I think he’s finally realized that I was one of the new women who treated him well’
 ‘My hair is longer/ I’m skinnier this time around’
 ‘.. this time I have a good feeling’
 ‘He’s in a good place’

Yep.. you’re pretty much doomed at this point. Its as though they can smellan indulgent heart and are happy to go along for the ride until you show signs of actually causing any impact on their time or other prospects. That or a new edition of Halo comes out.

I’ve kicked quite a few of these hangers-on to the curb over the years but generally it takes at least one smack to the head from my girlfriend or the complete humiliation of sitting around for a few hours in thigh highs waiting for him to show up. (I cringe, it’s true). But apart from the occasional humiliation, what’s the harm you might ask? Everyone needs a friend with benefits right?

I would totally agree… except these hangers-on aren’t really friends and the benefits are pretty unreliable. I’d be totally ok if there were some kind of unwritten rule which says ‘I’m contacting your for sex and only sex’ and then – ta-daaa – he’s on your doorstep with 2 bottle of Gatorade!! but it never quite works out like that. There are text messages, the occasional email.. and sex if it happens, its so random, its like finding out you’re part of a class action suite and getting a $5.36 check in the mail from AT&T. Great.. but unexpected. The complete lack of certainty makes it almost not worth the bother. Since the texting boomerang is typically nothing more than a booty call, I say please follow through or don’t hit send. Its only the only decent thing to do.

I’m an A type – I need reliability, rules, structures, parameters and these ones who ‘never quite go away’ are more inconsistent than AT&T in the Colorado mountains.

So here’s a message for the ones who never quite go away.

“Please fish or cut bait Mr.Boomerang. I’m deleting your number and I’m not replying to your texts. You can call me and we can schedule something (bring Gatorade), but no more hanging around on my iPhone please. Goodbye”

(…but I’m always up for a drink if your bored)

Lingering on lingerie

This one is for the lay-dees….

I dress like a 17 year old boy most days. Working from home gives me license to spend my days in jeans, t shirts (give or take the thermal undershirt), and Vans. I may be 40ish, but I regularly braid my hair and abstain from make up, wear clogs and leave my retainers in. I am quite happy to bounce through the day looking like I was drop kicked through Gap, largely because of what you can’t see.

Hello, My name is Rachael and I’m a lingerie whore.

I might not be drawn to a new lipstick or jewelry, and I only wear heels when I know I’m going to be around tall people, but put me in front of a wall of bras and panties, thongs and garter belts at Nordstrom or Saks and I’m breathless.  Men have porn, girls have crushes, I have lingerie.  After 20 years denying my femininity, I can finally admit that I am unequivocally obsessed with girlie frilly underwear.

It stems from being an ..ahem.. early developer. While I hated the idea that I was now, literally, strapped down, I did find the lacey little nothing I was strapped into, kind of.. interesting. As I grew, so did my collection. I defended my purchases on a practical basis. I was somewhat ‘over blessed’ in the chestical department, so really, I needed lots of lingerie. One could just break at any time, so of course I needed backups. 41 of them. With matching panties.

It started with virgin white cotton lace, then expanded to every type of white anything. I refused to wear any color other than white (not for any moral stance on my virginity, but simply because it made my milk bottle blue skin look vaguely tan by comparison).  As I left college and entered the world of work I realized the appeal of the ‘set’, of color and range. That one day I was polka dotted swiss cotton and the next I was black satin. I’ve spent many years forging a collection to rival any department store and it continues to grow, even as I head on into my 40s…the land of the practical cotton pant and Spanx slimmer.

(To those who might be rolling their eyes at this point.. I challenge you to visit your nearest department story (no, Target will not do), buy yourself a matching set of anything pretty and girlie.. regardless of your size or your taste.. put them on and tell me you don’t feel great.)

To my coworkers and friends I may be a boring dresser who favors blue and black conservative attire, lacks accessories and could use some heels, but I know underneath, my ‘clothes’ are flawless. Who could argue with a matching set of La Perla? A new creamy camisole? Silky boy shorts or a scanty string thong? I have drawers full. I draw the line at the tacky pornie stuff..I’m not buying it for guys. After all, I’ve been single for most of my life. But frills and lace – I can’t get enough.
While I wouldn’t dream of wearing a low cut or transparent top, my underwear is some people’s idea of obscene. Little more than 2 pieces of string and some lace. And I’m not embarrassed or ashamed because nobody sees it but me. It is all for me. My little pieces of confidence.  My secret security blanket.

You see, I’m an anxious person and I’ve spent much of my life worrying about what others think. Whether I made the right decision or said the wrong thing. I’ve laid in bed at 3am worrying about things I did 12 years ago and whether I really hurt someone when I sent that email, wore the same dress or showed up 5 minutes late.
But I never have to worry about my underwear.
That, I know, is perfect.

So when I get hit by that bus and the EMTs are hauling me off to the ER, my mother can be proud. My underwear is clean, pretty and it matches.

So at least I’ve got that nailed. 

Are you there God? Its me, Rachael

Like many girls, I grew up on Judy Blume. I was passed a copy of ‘Are you there God? Its me Margaret’ via my sister at the age of 11 and was astonished to realize that it wasn’t just me who was freaked out about periods and growing up. I don’t actually recall asking for divine intervention, but I do remember the book giving me a vague sense of ‘okay-ness’ that I wasn’t a freak. To be honest I couldn’t quite relate to Judy’s excitement about ‘growing up’ and the promised ‘changes’ made me feel vaguely nauseous and in some cases, downright depressed.
C’mon.. who wants to learn that they’re never going to be able accomplish that back-flip in gym because the new boobs she’s growing are going to whap her in the face? And that weird smells and hair are suddenly things to worry about. One day I was building a dam to catch fish and suddenly I’ve got to worry about wearing a bra???? WTF???? Ok, guys had stuff going on to, but getting stronger and growing an Adams apple didn’t seem quite on the same scale of ‘WTF!!’ as boobs.

Where are you today Judy? I’m 40ish and I need a new book.

I don’t need reassurance about first crushes and the trickiness of girl friends, but I do need to know its ok to spend $200 on a pair of jeans. To notice that my knees aren’t quite where they used to be and that those weird brown ‘freckles’ on me hands are actually signs of wisdom… not an indicator of potential melanoma.That impotence isn’t a rarity amongst guys my age, its called ‘a weekday‘, and that grey chest hair is ‘foxy’ instead of vaguely reminding me of my 73 yr old dad.
I need to know that everyday brings new excitement, and new pills to fix that ‘excitement’. That crushing on a 45 year old isn’t creepy – he’s actually in your age range – and that yes, you can’t drink a bottle of wine and feel super awesome the next day. Sure, being 40 can be scary, but I have a feeling Judy could find a way to make me all feel better about it.

Failing that, I guess I can thank my stars that I no longer have to worry about growing hair, and only have to worry about losing it.