Sunday, December 28, 2008

On a Lighter Note...

On IMDB, there is a page for a 2009 movie of Atlas Shrugged, the fantastic novel by Ayn Rand. There is a lively discussion going on, where fans have listed which actors they would like to see in the roles. I have to agree with them - here are some of their picks:

Dagny Taggart: Cate Blanchett
Hank Rearden: Jon Hamm
Lilian Rearden: Julianne Moore
Francisco D'Anconia: Antonio Banderas
Cheryl Brooks-Taggart: Amy Adams (If she makes it into the movie)
James Taggart: Kevin Spacey
Hugh Akston: Michael Caine
Ellis Wyatt: Joaquin Phoenix

I myself would like to see Greg Grunberg as Eddie, and Cary Elwes as Ragnar Danneskold - assuming, of course, that Daniel Craig won't be available. (I'll bet Craig would LOVE that role!)

And I agree with posters that John Galt should be played by an unknown.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thanks Pua!

Thanks Pua!
Originally uploaded by MzOuiser
I couldn't believe it when Pua said she wanted to knit me a scarf. She expresses love with her needles and yarn. I've seen her work and it's beautiful, makes me want to learn to knit!

Pua and I have been blogging for several years, and gone through some ups and downs together, even though we are an entire country apart. This is the greatest gift of blogging - of the internet, really - the wonderful people who have come into my life, sharing each others stories, lending supportive words, ready with a laugh or a virtual hug.

I never do anything just because it's a fad.

After being on hiatus for a year, I'm one of many on the internet that is thrilled to read Pua's postings again. You see Pua? We were all here when you decided to come back. You matter to us!

Thanks again for your wonderful gift!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

After what seemed like weeks of overcast, rainy days, the sun finally shone. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, just endless miles of blue and crip, clear air. I filled my lungs over and over and thought of nothing but the moment, the clean, fresh air, the bright sunshine, the relative warmth of forty-ish degrees celsius during Christmas season.

The Metro-North was fast. I stepped off the train and walked through Grand Central behind a model. In flat converse sneakers, she towered over everyone, easily 6 feet tall and thin. I couldn't see her face, but her hair was incredible, thick and glowing with health, a too-perfect shade of light red. Something in me wanted to meet her, make friends, but it's been a long time since I was that spontaneous. And I felt the thickness of my 37-year old body acutely, my short squat self who stood barely to her shoulder.

The minute we emerged into the main hall of Grand Central Station, I forgot she existed.

I met Piano Man for lunch. He lives in my old neighborhood, at 102nd and Broadway. Everytime I go there I feel calm. We had lunch at Cafe Du Soleil, a french bistro that opened when I was still living there. We were among their first customers, and they never disappoint.

PM is pretty distinctive-looking. He's almost six feet tall, very pale, and what's left of his hair is still the same soft strawberry blonde it's always been. He has striking blue eyes, and wears black leather New Balance sneakers virtually everywhere, although he doesn't own a pair of jeans. He also doesn't have a cell phone, a computer, a DVD player or cable TV.

The center of his life is his music, and dominating his studio apartment is his steinway upright, a modest instrument, with an incredibly comfortable leather padded seat. There are stacks and stacks of music piled high on the piano, and sometimes everywhere else. A few years ago he had a cabinet custom-designed to hold all his sheet music, which helps. His apartment is his music studio... or really, it's the other way around.

He and I talked incessantly for two hours. Somehow I devoured an omelet with spinach and fine herbs, and some salad. A cup of earl grey managed to disappear as well, but all I really remember is talking about the recession, his 401k, my consistent underemployment, gossiping about mutual friends, and the value of friendship in general. I teased the gorgeous french waiters, and PM rolled his eyes. He asked if he could get a cable box at radio shack, and I rolled my eyes.

I had a Karaoke date with Dave at two. Dave was my Man-of-Honor, and one of my oldest and very best friends. We meet for Karaoke all the time, and I often oversing, which I really should be more careful about. This time I was meeting him at this place near Union Square. It's been years since I went to Union Square! I got turned around walking in the wrong direction, and wound up almost a half hour late, but I found the place.

Dave had Christmas gifts for me, a bunch of EsteƩ Lauder stuff, which he always gives me since he works for the company and is drowning in product. Which makes me one incredibly lucky hag. I still buy from him, and probably spend more than I should, but I've got more new makeup now than I think I've ever had. I've been wearing it to work a lot, which is new for me, and frankly, a lot of fun. I feel glamorous and new - not young, just new. I'm getting better at using the stuff, from all the practice. I experiment with colors, blues and greens and purples, Eyeliner or no, less mascara or more, depending on my mood and what I'm wearing.

I used to say I only wore makeup when I was feeling bad about myself, and that was, for the most part, true. Now I wear it for fun, and because I feel I deserve some glamour. I love this change in my attitude.

Dave wanted me to sing "Buenos Aires" from Evita. I managed to pull it off, and with flare. I was in the children's chorus of that musical when I was eleven, and during the course of that show, I learned all of Eva's role, every word, every note. Over the years, I've forgotten much of it, so I was pretty nervous now that I'm asked to sing it, but with the lyrics in front of me, it all came back. Something in me burned hotly with the realization that I'm getting too old to play Eva. It would have been a perfect role for me, if I'd ever had the opportunity. I get furious sometimes, that my life has flown past me in the blink of an eye. I'm too old for most of my dream roles. Recently I've gotten just a little too fat. And I certainly don't have the dance abilities I once did. But my voice is intact, and in some ways better than ever. So I ran with it. And it felt amazing.

Listening to my friends sing, I managed to release my rage, and my sadness. I sipped my water and lost myself in the moment... and moved on.

I called Ameleh to see if she wanted to come into the city to see a movie with me, but she demurred, too comfy in her pajamas on her couch in Peekskill after a long season of hard work at her high-stress job. So I hit up PM again, and we met at Lincoln Square. I finally got someone to see Quantum of Solace with me.

Most people don't know I'm a Bond Fan. PM bought me a book called "The Man Who Saved Britain", which I haven't gotten around to reading yet but I'm planning to read on vacation in a couple of weeks. I've seen almost all the films, mostly on TV, but most since the early 90's in the theatres.

The problem with Bond is people have ridiculously high expectations. None of my friends, not even G, really wanted to see Quantum of Solace with me because the reviewers didn't like it. this always pisses me off. I have this problem with a lot of movies, my friends and family decide what to see based on reviewers. I NEVER do. I seldom agree with the reviewers, so screw them. The problem is, I wind up never going at all, because everyone would rather do something else, and there's only so many evenings in a week. Next thing I know a year has gone by.

So this time I bought the tickets, PM came with me, and we had a grand time watching things blow up and drooling over gorgeous people in various states of undress. I think I know why people don't like the film though. He never ordered the martini, and there were no gadgets, so no trip though Q's laboratory. The famous theme song has been relegated to the closing credits. It looks like they are trying to change something familiar, something we rely on seeing with each new film, that never disappoints. I disagree - I don't think they are changing anything. I think those elements will return. But I can see how people would be disappointed.

There were also a lot of bits in the film that were throwbacks to other films. I can see people deriding this as copying, or being unimaginative or lame, but I liked it. I saw it as a tip of the hat to us long-time fans, an attempt to make us feel special, and included. I think this film was a love letter to Bond fans. It wasn't what we were expecting, but I appreciated it. I don't get many love letters these days.

On my way back to Tarrytown, I slept.

G met my train, and I hopped in the car, excited as usual, and we chatted about Bond the whole way home. We talked about the stronger heroines in recent films, the good girl/bad girl dynamic, and the innocent victims of the Connery days, nice girls who would up dead. Casino Royale had a good girl who also was a bad girl, who wound up dead - a combination of all three. This film had a girl who you couldn't tell was good or bad for awhile, and another girl who was the classic Connery-era innocent - a pretty thing named Strawberry Fields, who had no idea what she was getting herself into. After an undoubtedly superb roll in 100-thread count sheets, she wound up dead.

My favorite quotes come from the bad girls. Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp: "I had to ventilate someone." Barbara Carerra: as Fatima Blush "WRITE IT DOWN!" Sophie Marceau as Elektra King: "What's the point of living if you never feel alive?" Even Grace Jones as Mayday: "What is there to say?" They always seem to know just what to say. They're clever.

This morning, I slept until 11:00. I have so much on my plate this week, I'm overbooked with wonderful things to do. G is afraid I'll make myself sick. I have done that in the past. But I don't want to miss anything. I'm going to our company's christmas party - one of my work friends is bringing me as his date. I'm going to a concert that my neighbor is playing. I'm working the whole week. And I'm supposed to bake cookies to give to various local persons as a Christmas gift - the guys who fix our cars, the guy I rent my parking space from, the girls at our Veterinary clinic, etc. Oh, and I still haven't done my Holiday cards.

I'll get it done.

I feel healthy.

This is normally the darkest part of the year, but right now it's sunny and bright, and not very cold out. I know that the worst weather usually comes after the holidays. There's always blizzards in February, and March and April are grey and wet and depressing. And I know that I'm still working on managing my depression, and that my expectations are never on target for pretty much anything these days.

I'm taking a lot of deep breaths these days. Reminding myself that the past is the past, and there is still a lot of future ahead of me, but the best part is now. Just being in the now. Sitting here, the sun streaming in the windows, my cat sleeping peacefully, my husband showering out the bits of hair after getting a trim.

Ameleh is preparing to move into her very first Manhattan apartment. Dave is at work, making women feel beautiful. Kristin and Lisa are with their families. My parents are working. Donna is watching the Bears game.

2009 is coming. What will I do with it?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Smilin' Ouiser Gloats over the Rotting Corpse of her Fear

Sorry... I've been playing violent board games.

I've written in the past about my fear of dental work, which is really a fear of medical procedures in general, especially my phobia of needles. I also wrote about overcoming that fear, and having eight cavities filled in two visits, not to mention a smidgen of cosmetic dentistry. It was a pretty amazing experience... but it was two years ago.

Yesterday, I had a gum graft, over just one molar, in the back on the left. Just for that one tooth, the gum had receded so far that I basically had none. I've been living with it for years, and it's never caused me any real discomfort, but it was sort of a time bomb. The wrong bacteria could so easily get in there, and cause serious infectious problems. So, I had to have a skin graft.

And no, all you gen-Xers out there, this was not caused by brushing too hard. This is something that just happens to certain people. It's not because I didn't floss for awhile. They don't know exactly what causes it. And you know what? I don't really care.

'Cause mine's fixed now. And it didn't even hurt.

Sadly, I do still have to deal with my fear. I had a consult with the periodontist a month or so ago, during which I explained to him that I am basically a phobic, crying, nutjob. My brain knows exactly what's going to happen, and it doesn't matter. I'm even quite fascinated by the medical science behind it all, and I think the teeny scalpels and circular needles are totally cool. But the minute I see that novocaine injector, I'm going to freak out. It's not rational, and I'm working it, but it's going to happen. I will probably cry. I may shrivel into the chair, and tremble, even as I'm muttering it's ok, I can do this and opening my jaws wide.

The good doctor was completely unfazed. "I need to know how you will react to me," I told him, somewhat sheepishly, but determined to be understood, and respected. "In the past, professionals have not handled me well, and that's why this has gone untreated for so long. How are you going to handle me?"

The doctor sat down next to me, and said all the right things. He wants this to be a positive experience for me. He scheduled me 2.5 hours for a 30-minute procedure. He prescribed me Xanax, so I could get a good night's sleep the night before, and said it was ok to take one in the morning if I was still really scared. He reassured me that my comfort and happiness was his priority.

This guy was recommended to me by the brilliant dentist who filled my cavities in 2005, and I trusted him... so I decided to trust this gentle, polite periodontist who cracks jokes like they are going out of style.

He took a long, long time to numb me. He did this slowly, in tiny injections, instead of pushing a lot of fluid in quickly. I honestly did not feel them. There was one in the upper palate - a VERY sensitive area - that felt like the tiniest of mosquito bites, but then it was over. He'd give me two mini-shots, and then chat with me about living upstate. Then two more mini-shots, and more banter. and this continued while we watched NY1 in the background. Sassy Pat Kiernan read me the papers, and I got another mini-shot. Some joking about overpriced restaurants in Piermont, another mini-shot.

Next thing I know, it's scalpel time, and I'm laughing at the doctor and his assistant while they crack jokes over me.

My appointment was at 8:00. The whole thing was over before 9:30. When they were finished, they put these weird rubber band-aids over my surgical wounds. I have two small rubber band-aid thingys inside my mouth. This is some weird-feelin' shit. They'll be here until next Monday, when I go back to have the stitches removed. Meanwhile, the one on my gumline is thick, so my left jaw looks like Marlon Brando. Oh well. I'll live with it.

The hardest part was after the surgery. For the rest of the day yesterday, I was in recovery. Since the inside of your mouth bleeds freely and easily, I was instructed not to engage in any physical activity for the day. I had to keep my blood pressure down - I was instructed to "walk slow." Walk SLOW?? In MANHATTAN? Can I tell you how hard that is? And I had been thinking I could do some shopping after the surgery. Nope.

Well, I was pretty wrecked anyway. Instead of shopping I went to a friend's apartment and crashed on his couch for several hours.

I couldn't eat or drink anything hot, or even warm. Room temperature or colder, again, to prevent bleeding. And No biting into anything, like a sandwich. I could only eat things in small pieces, and I could only chew on the right side. Ok, again, no problem, it's just for one day.

This morning, I was free to have hot coffee and soup. And I did, and they were delish. But I'm still chewing only on the right side. I'm just too creeped out to do otherwise.

Oh - and most fun - I am forbidden to brush my teeth on the left side for two weeks. TWO WEEKS. I can swish - gently - with Listerine to kill the bacteria, but oh, Goddess, how disgusting. It's only been two days and I'm already yearning for a toothbrush. Another reason to only eat on the right side - the side I can brush.

Again though - seriously - I can live with all this. It's really not that big a deal, compared to the idea of what could have happened, had I not had the procedure. Jaw infection anyone? *shudder*

Also, I'm thinking about my fillings, done in 2005, and how far I've come. I used to get nauseated just flossing my teeth, and watching other do it. Now I floss every day, sometimes just because my teeth feel sticky. My last cleaning was a breeze, and I bounced out of that office, calling G and bragging like I'd gotten an 800 on my SAT.

Yesterday morning I handled that needle pretty well - and best of all, the doctor and his assistant handled me with tenderness, compassion and some mad skillz with those instruments. I felt genuinely cared about, and respected. Is this what it's like for celebrities? I wondered.

It's worth mentioning that G and I paid THROUGH THE NOSE for this minor surgery, because this doc is such a rockstar, and does stuff like schedule 2.5 hours of his time for a 30-minute procedure. And it was worth every penny. My liberal guilt rises when I realize that nobody I know would have this kind of experience, because this doc doesn't take insurance, and charges high fees to boot. I am simply incredibly lucky that G and I were able to take two years to prepare for this experience, both financially and emotionally. We will submit the expenses to our PPO, but we don't expect much. Whatever we get will be gravy. This is just how we choose to spend our money.

It's interesting... we don't own a DVD player. We have one piece-o-shit Dell Vista-running laptop. We have a 19-inch thick, fat TV. We do have TiVo, but we don't get any premium channels or anything HD. We don't own a video game system. We don't eat out a lot. We don't spend our money in ways that most Americans seem to enjoy. Sometimes it seems like sacrifice... but really, a very small, petty one. Yesterday was my reward.

It's weird to think of rewarding myself for a simple, frugal lifestyle with dental surgery, but that's how I feel. I'd rather have this level of healthcare than movie or theater or concert tickets. I'd give up a vacation for this. (Hm.. I kind of did.)

Would this doc still be allowed to practice in this manner under a Universal Healthcare system? Would his fees have to go even higher, so that even with our financial planning I would no longer be able to afford him? Now that the surgery is over, and I'm recovering, I'm thinking about this. I realize that the availability of premium services is something I'm grateful for, and that somehow I have become a person to whom they are actually available. G and my household income is firmly middle-class - but I was able to do this, and I couldn't be more grateful. Maybe ten years ago when I was deeply in debt and alone, I would have been bitter, and said that nobody deserves special treatment just because they can pay for it.

I still feel that way. What I say now, is why doesn't everybody get this kind of compassion and skill? I know taking insurance means not getting paid half the time, and getting underpaid a lot of the time. So I know that "non-premium" docs, so to speak, can't afford to spend 2.5 hours of their time hand-holding a phobic patient. I do understand the economics of that. But... still... Maybe this is the part of the system that needs fixing first? Why can't more doctors have this great attitude, these great assistants, these mad skills with their instruments? And all that patience?

I sound like a bleeding heart, but hey, why not? I also know that 50% of all practicing physicians are in the bottom half of their class - but maybe there are some standards of care that could be examined as well. After all those years working in hospitals, yeah, that much I know.

So... much pondering going on.

And much gratitude. Overwhelming gratitude.

After I had convalesced on my friend's couch, I slowly crept to the 102nd street 1/9 stop. I baby-stepped onto the train, baby-stepped my way though the transfer at 42nd street, walking like a 90-year old. I caught the N to 34th street, and molasses-walked over to the PATH trains. I rode to Hoboken, and met my husband there. We rode the NJ Transit train home to Nanuet together. And I talked about the surgery the whole way home. I felt so proud of myself, and I felt so lucky, and so blessed, to have received such good care.

The first day after Thanksgiving weekend, and I am still coming up with things to be thankful for.

Oh - and wasn't I pleased to note that there was a new moon on Thanksgiving. I was having my procedure during the early stages of the waxing moon, a time of growth.

Blessed be.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Whirlwind Weekend

Had lunch at Jean-Georges. Spent two hours there. It was like being in a spa. Perfect meal, perfect seating, and the company of an old friend.

Spent the next hour and three-quarters at St. Thomas's church on 5th avenue listening to an organ concert. I'm not into 20th century stuff, but it was beautiful in there.

Spent another hour drinking whisky at The Bar at the Four Seasons, warming up.

Spent the remainder of the evening at City Center, watching the semi-concert performance of On the Town. Absolute bliss. Produced with honor and respect and true love for the original production, the music, and the choreography. As long as Andrea Martin wasn't onstage, I was reminded of everything I used to love about Musical Theatre. Also, with a sweet pain, how much I still love New York, and always will.

Caught the 10:56 train back to Tarrytown, and as I rode over the bridge in my husband's car, I chatted endlessly about the incredible dancing sailors who seemed to fly with the energy of eternal youth, the heavenly butternut squash soup whose bowl I wished I'd never reach the bottom of, the architecture of the Four Seasons that puts you in mind of a cathedral, the beautiful dancing girls with their tasteful, kneelength 40's style dresses and t-stap character shoes, the 95-year old pipe organ in a real cathedral, the carvings and statues over the altar, how incredibly cold it was outside, how strangely healthy it feels when a single malt creeps down through your belly, warming your knees and toes...

Fell asleep at midnight. Didn't wake up until 9. A full night's sleep. Thank you Macallan.

Spent Sunday doing domestic chores, drinking tea and shopping for a new car online.

This morning, Monday, I feel ok. Only three days this week and then I'll be in Boston with the in-laws for a scrumptious Thanksgiving. And of course our Annual movie the day after. We're going to see Quantum of Solace. Wouldn't it be great if there was a new Bond Film every Thanksgiving?

When I get back, I'm having oral surgery December 1. Should be simple. Still scary.

Still playing phone tag with the shrink. Maybe in December I'll get to actually meet him.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Maybe This Time?

I was always a moody kid. I was easily hurt and cried a lot.

For a couple of years in high school, I threw up anything I ate before school. I discussed it with some people and concluded it was a "nervous stomach." In reality, I wouldn't have eaten anything at all, ever, if I hadn't been so afraid of my parents throwing me in some treatment facility. I stayed healthy for fear of what would happen to me if I didn't. How's that for backward logic? Whatever works, I suppose.

In college, if I didn't have a class, I could stay in my dorm room for days on end, sometimes without eating. Nobody around to stop me anymore. I could be as self-destructive as I liked.

Funny how I never got into punk music. Those kids were into suicide though, and I never went that far. At least, they sang about suicide and death all the time. Maybe it was pretense. I was into Broadway and pop music, all about empowerment and fun and true love. That was my pretense.

At the end of Streetcar Named Desire, when Blanche is taken away by the people in white coats, Stella cries in Stanley's arms. I always imagined her knees buckling as she did this, and Stanley holding her up by hugging her against his chest. As she cries, Stanley says "Now now love, now love..." As though there hadn't been before. As though they had been waiting for it, all this time. Tennessee Williams describes her sobbing as "luxurious." As though she finally is allowed the luxury of collapse.

Everyone always said I should have played Blanche, but I would have made a great Stella.

I don't like being around people who cry all the time, who insist on being the center of attention all the time, who need to be felt sorry for, who wallow in their victimhood. I can't stand it. Go home, I want to tell them, go home to your apartment and cry there. Go to your therapist, your Mom or your ex-boyfriend or whoever your issue is with, but NOT HERE.

I mean, that's what I did.

Ever since Dwight Whats-his-name in college told me that I didn't seem to be trying very hard to get over my breakup with that fat kid... can't remember his name either. It was a stupid, reckless relationship that ended badly. And I cried a lot, not over the loss of it, but mostly just for feeling stupid and foolish and lost. And I was out with Sue and Dwight, and I was mopey all day, and probably talking about it a lot. And at some point Dwight made some comment about me not wanting to get past it. "Are you crazy?" I said, "Of course I want to feel better!" "Well, you don't seem to be trying very hard," he said.

So ever since that day in 1992, I've been hiding my grief, hiding my tears, at least, trying to hide the worst of it. Oh, don't get me wrong, I do talk freely about my problems, and when something happens, I do cry on the shoulders of friends. But not for very long. I make sure I don't pollute the atmosphere any longer than I think is socially acceptable. It's only fair to others. And, for my part, it keeps me from becoming emotionally self-destructive.

All that changes when you get married.

Now, all of a sudden, there's someone CONSTANTLY there. My living space will ALWAYS have another person in it, the SAME person, for the rest of my life. Where am I going to go now? I don't have that Depression Room anymore, where I can just hole up for days on end in that state of pseudo-death. In he comes, and he sees me, and he's concerned. And sometimes he's worried, almost scared. And other times, especially after a certain amount of time has passed, he's irritated, frustrated, downright pissed off. Not again... I see it in his face. The same look my father would get after dealing with my mother, a sort of sad resignation, and a profound tiredness.

It's hard to make a life with a depressive.

It's never easy to be depressed, but some circumstances make it easier to deal with. Living alone, I don't have to worry about polluting anyone's home but my own. Maintaining short-term relationships means nobody has to deal with too much of my fallout. Living in New York City, there are endless distractions and cover-ups, even in daylight. I had a nice bag of tricks, and life didn't suck.

But move to the suburbs, to a town that rolls up its streets at 9pm, and share a one-bedroom apartment with the same person for three years? With the knowledge that this person will be there for the rest of your life?

When my mother was 37 years old, I was 11. It was a terrible, terrible year for me. I was awkward and gangly, and full of yearnings. I was a total dork at school. I had crushes on boys. I liked school but hated the kids who picked on me mercilessly in the cruel way that children do. I kept amazing journals full of adolescent fantasies and passions. And my mother screamed and yelled at me all the time.

Things only got worse between my Mom and I. by the time I was 14, I was so sick of being afraid of her that I finally told her I didn't love her anymore. And I meant it too. Of course I realized after awhile that I did love her, and that I always did, but that it was hard to define my feelings for her. She made my life hell, but she was my mother, and there were times when she was wonderful. It was complicated, and I was just too young.

I'm not sure when she started the Prozac, but she has been a different person ever since, and our relationship has improved. It's incredible how we've talked about everything we did to each other, and worked it all through. I've released most of my resentment (hey, there was a lot). But it took a very, very long time. And for me, the damage is done. I still react strangely to things, as a result of how I grew up. I still have an inordinate inability to trust. I have become incredibly private in certain ways.

Sayeth the blogger, haha. I'm so far from Emily Gould, I have like 5, 6 readers, and the New York Times is NOT calling. Blah blah blah. The internet is a crowd of thousands - easy to be invisible.

So this post is about how my Mom was violently depressive when I was growing up, and for all of my adult life, I've been self-destructively depressive. And now, I want to have children. And I want my husband to be HAPPY married to me.

So maybe this time, it's time to do something differently.

I had a good, long talk with my OB/GYN last Thursday morning. I don't know how it happened. Well, maybe I do - she commented on my very short hair. "I'm having an identity crisis," I joked. "Really?" she asked. "Why is that?" And I sort of froze. No snappy comeback. I mumbled something about my job. And we were off.

I couldn't help but shed a tear or two. Not enough to run my mascara. But I was talking so much about how unfulfilled I am. It was ridiculous, it was embarrassing, hearing myself say those things. "I never expected being married to make me happy," I said. "A husband, no matter how great, will never bring about inner fulfillment for me. That's going to have to come from something else."

We talked so long, I began to feel guilty for keeping her from her other patients. "I'm sorry," I said, "This is not why I came here today!" "You need to talk," she said simply. "You're clearly depressed."

A brilliant psychologist once told me that my depression wasn't from a chemical imbalance, it was from having shitty situations in my life. My grandmothers were dying. I was divorcing. I had a shitty roommate. My best friend moved back to Korea. My job sucked ass. I had PLENTY of reasons to be depressed! SSRI's would do nothing for that. I felt so empowered by this realization. It led me to do a lot of things differently. For awhile, I led a very rich life.

Then I moved to Nyack.

I hate it here.

No. I'm off track. Get back.

My doctor said, "I hear you saying things like 'there's no point in trying,' and 'I don't believe anything's ever going to get any better...'"

I buried my face in my hands. "Oh god," I said, "Listen to myself. You're so right. I'm saying all the classic depressive lines." I stared at my feet.

I told my OB that story, about how the cure for my depression lay in changing my life so that I had good friends, good activities, a job I felt great about doing, etc. I did those things. I let go of some toxic friendships, I took part in a women's spirituality group, I went to massage school.

I'm still miserable. I'm not singing, and everything else is just whiskey.

I have to accept that this dream of mine is dead. It's over, and I have to let it go. I'm married now, and my body is SCREAMING to have a child. I'm not going to be a nightclub singer. I'm going to be a Mom.

I don't want to be a Mom like my Mom was. Like my aunt Delores was. I don't want my family to be poisoned by the resentment that seeps through my pores. I don't want my children to take second place in my life, behind my obsession with my failed dream. I don't want my husband to become my punching bag, like my dad did for my Mom. I don't want to drive everyone away. I don't want my kids' friends to feel sorry for them, like my friends felt sorry for me, for having a crazy mom.

What would my adolescence have been like if my Mom had started SSRI's when I was eleven?

My doctor and I discussed Zoloft. "I could write you a prescription, but I don't know how appropriate that would be," she said. "I don't think I'm ready for that yet," I said. I want to keep trying external things first.

Singing isn't the first love I've had to let go. It's not the first obsession that threatened to wreck my future. It's not the first time a vision of who I wanted to be has driven me to drink. I've been in this hole before. I got out of it last time.

I asked my husband if our health insurance came with an EAP. He asked what I was looking for. "A psychiatrist," I said. So he goes on the computer and gets me all this information. It's a good plan. We're covered for a lot of visits.

He made a funny face. "I think you said you wanted a psychiatrist, as opposed to a psychologist?" He asked me. "Yeah," I said. "I'm not totally sure of the difference," he said. "Zoloft," I said.

It's scary, because I don't remember exactly how I got out of the hole before. I do remember it hurt like hell. Something in me died. But I did it, I got out. And then other parts of me sprang to life. And the dead part sloughed away. Life renews.

I tried an SSRI once before. It was a fascinating experience, and I learned alot about myself in those three months. I tried it for a very specific adjustment that I had to make. Once I made the adjustment, I stepped myself down off the meds. The side effects were AWFUL. I decided right then and there that I never wanted to be on any kind of med that was that difficult to get off of.

I know my Mom will have to be on Prozac for the rest of her life. But she's in her 60's!! I'm not even 40 yet!! I don't want to be on anything for the rest of my life - not starting NOW!

But... maybe my Mom should have been? And maybe, just maybe, I should open myself to the idea that this is the help I've been needing?

I want to do this for them. For my husband and children.

My doctor and I talked about how, with your serotonin levels balanced, you can better deal with life as it is. It puts you on a more even keel, so you can then assess your situation, make decisions, and take action. And that, THAT is what I want to do for me.

So maybe this time... nothing inside me needs to die. Maybe this time, I try the meds.

I'm calling a psychiatrist Monday morning, and we'll see what he has to say.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Getting in Line

Ever since the remake of Casino Royale, I have been completely under the spell of Daniel Craig. Like everyone else with a sex drive. Reading the New York Times article about him, I got goosebumps. I've always had a thing for blondes.


Baaa... baaa...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Practical to a Fault

I realized a little while ago that I was reluctant to call my Mom and talk to her because there may come a time when she'll be dead, and I won't be able to. I don't want to depend too much on having her there. Talk about backward logic.

I realized that this is also part of why I cultivate friendships. I'm hoping to have a support structure for when I lose my parents. Because my husband (and hopefully children) will not be enough. I will burn them out. I will need friends. I have around 200 cousins, but they have never been there for me when I was in need, at least not since I was too old for my parents to drop me off at someone's house for a week.

I'm not sure how long I have been emotionally preparing for my parent's death, but that's what I'm doing. Doing it now, while they are healthy. Sort of like starting an emergency savings account. I have one of those too, for my cat, in case she contracts some catastrophic illness, or the inevitable happens, something that I am choking up about simply writing it here.

Last summer I went through a three-month bout of depression. It was during this time that I realized I was preparing to lose my loved ones. However I don't think it's because I was depressed that I began to do this. I think I've been doing it for longer than I can quite put my finger on right now.

Being married has never been the answer to all my problems, especially this one. Granted it will help. G is great. But I know myself well enough to know how my grief can exhaust everyone around me. It's going to take a team.

So far I have several good, true friends who I believe I can count on. And believe, me, I know how lucky I am in this. Hopefully I won't need them for this particular circumstance for many years.

But it is comforting to know that today, they are there.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

November 5th, 2008

As I floated toward consciousness, the cat was meowing. "Shh," whispered G, petting the cat, letting me sleep just a little later. A morning like every other morning.

When I opened my eyes, G was flipping the blinds open. As the first dawn light glowed into the room, he looked at me and smiled.

"You're not saying anything," I grumbled. "That's bad."

"What?" G asked, leaning down for my good-morning hug and kiss.

"You're not telling me who won and that means it's bad..." I mumbled into his neck, grappling my arms around him, trying to suck his wide-awake perkiness through skin-to-skin contact, like a leech.

G chuckled. "I haven't looked yet. I don't know who won. But I have a feeling you will be pleased."

I grumbled something and slipped back into bed. G turned on the radio as he left, and some asinine comedy bit blared into the room. I cursed my uncooperative muscles, forcing me to lie there.

And then the news came on.

I was relieved... sort of. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be bounding out of bed, running into the halls and out into the street, like those people in Times Square last night. Instead, I just feel nervous. A sense of foreboding. Worry.

Is this how a mother feels when she sends her kid off to their first job?

Sitting at my desk this morning, I opened the New York Times Homepage. They are clearly thrilled. What sort of headline had they planned if McCain won?

Is the fighting really going to end?

More than anything, I feel trepidatious. I feel like I'm the one in the White House, like this is all my responsibility. Because it is. It's the responsibility of every American citizen to vote from the heart, to choose the person we believe will best care for our home. So Barack, my fellow Illinoisian, we're in this together. I may not have money to donate, but whatever I can do in my limited capacity to make this country a better place, I pledge to do my best. Just like I believe you will. May I give you a piece of advice that has always served me well?

Listen to others. Surround yourself with really, really smart people, and listen to them. You don't have to do EVERYTHING they say, but listen. Learn.

And into the breach we go.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Welcome Autumn!

It was actually a pretty crappy weekend. I made an incredible, mind-blowing SNAFU, which resulted in my going completely AWOL to something I had promised to attend. For most of the day Sunday, I felt absolutely horrible, that I had let down a bunch of people who I really wanted to help. It was an honest mistake, but a whopper. I was depressed and self-flagellating for hours.

And then I let it go.

Today, I am filled with goodwill, and this sort of low-level contentment. This deep, underlying calm, and a feeling that everything's going to be alright.

Ever since last August I have been ITCHING - literally - for autumn to come. My allergies (and anxieties) were worse this year than I can remember them being in a very long time. While everyone around me was cavorting about in shorts and sandals, desperately trying to make the most of the oppressive yet rapidly dissipating heat, lamenting the end of summer and the beginning of sweater season, I was counting the days and gritting my teeth with impatience. All I could think about was crisp, cool, breathable air, utterly devoid of pollen and stinging insects. I couldn't WAIT for the first freeze!

Ahhhh. I have now breathed freely through two gorgeous fall weekends, last weekend here in the Hudson Valley, and the weekend before in Massachusetts. The amazing vibrant colors in the trees, the sweet clear air... two weeks ago at our friend's house in Weymouth, I did cartwheels in the backyard. I almost sprained my wrist, but I did one whole revolution, feet over head. And a backbend. The grass was soft and slightly damp under my hands. The sun was warm and the air was cool and the breeze was chilly, making me feel alive. I felt safe.

Last weekend I made Tuscan Pumpkin White Bean Soup, a recipe from the Weight Watchers website. I found it to be a bit bland so I added several spices, and it came out savory and velvety. I froze several serving to bring to work. I've bought apples and pears and downloaded recipes for pies. Tonight I saw eggnogg at the store! Last Sunday, I went to Michael's and bought enough yarn to knit some holiday presents. I'm already planning to make cookies for the guys who run the auto body shop in our neighborhood. They take such great care of our cars, and are such nice guys, they deserve some cookies. G and I have already blocked out our calendars for the annual drive west to spend the holidays with my parents with a visit to his sister on the way. All these signs of fall, and preparation for the winter.

Mmmm, warm wool sweaters and socks and hot chocolate. After driving in all kinds of snow last year, even that doesn't phase me now.

Bring it on.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I should shop here more often

MzOuiser -
Thanks for your order with CD Baby!

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved "Bon Voyage!" to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Wednesday, October 29th.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as "Customer of the Year." We're all exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!


CD Baby
the little store with the best new independent music (503)595-3000

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Meditations on an Emergency

"One day, you're there. And then, all of a sudden... there's less of you. And you wonder where that part went, if it's living outside of you? And you keep thinking, maybe you'll get it back. And then you realize... it's just gone."
- Peggy, Mad Men

I had thought we were talking about apartments. There was this bizarre almost-argument about who does more work around the house, and dancing around feeling put-upon. There was something to do with... I just don't remember anymore.

What I do remember is the concept of "needs not being met" coming up in the conversation. "Ray used to muse on how I had such a hard time getting my needs met," I told G in the car, somewhere in the course of the conversation. "We talked about my jobs, my singing, the operas, the church... I always seem to slip through the cracks, and things that everyone thinks ought to come my way just pass me by. I just miss them by a hair.

"And yet I have a life full of wonderful things, and always have. And I spend so much time counting my blessings that I don't feel I have any right to ask for anything more. Because the minute I show the slightest bit of ingratitude, it's all going to fall away!"

G watched the road, his hands gripping the steering wheel loosely. His brow furrowed. The world was a blur passing by the car windows at 70 miles an hour.

"If you're in a place where you're counting your blessings, that's a bad sign," He said.

"It's like when I was in school," I babbled, "And we'd get this huge box in the mail from my Aunt Delores. It was clothes that my cousins had grown out of. They were well made and expensive but several years out of date and not anything like what my classmates were wearing. And Mom would say 'You don't know how lucky you are!' And she'd guilt trip me into wearing them and tell me what an ungrateful child I was for being so fussy and unappreciative. And I'd go to school and they'd shred me to bits over and over and over... and only BAD GIRLS wanted the things I wanted! And HOW DARE I not appreciate what I was given? And I should be ASHAMED of myself!"

I was hysterical, sobbing and shouting. "And I didn't care! And I was a bad girl, and fuck everybody! Fine, I'll be an ungrateful bitch, take it all back! Send it all back to Aunt Delores or wherever the hell it came from! I never wanted this! I never wanted any of it! All I ever wanted was a little apartment in Chelsea and my cat and a plant and a singing gig in a night club and I never asked for any of this!"

I just sobbed. And G drove. And I cried and cried, halfway across Connecticut. He just kept driving, and I kept crying, until I was done.

"Well, that felt kinda good," I finally said, blowing my nose.

"I think you needed to get that out for a long time now," G said.

We rode in silence again for awhile.

"The thing is," I said, " what." I wiped my eyes and looked out the window at trees and highway that looked exactly the same as it had 100 miles ago. "What's gonna change? Nothing. What can I do about it? Nothing. Big deal."

G said "I love you. I want to make you happy."

I said, "I don't want you to make me happy. I love that you want to, but it's not your job to make me happy." I gently tugged his left sleeve, which was riding up over his middle deltoid. I ran my finger along the edge of the muscle there, aware of this external manifestation of the incredible strength and power inside this man, this man who loves me, and wants to make me happy.

"If I can think of something you can do to help me, I promise, I'll tell you," I said, smiling. "But I think this is something I have to figure out for myself."

I don't like feeling weak. I don't like feeling pitiful. I'm afraid that when I feel these things, that I'll look that way, and G (And anyone else around) will no longer respect me. I'll be seen as a victim who wallows in her sadness, a pain in the ass.

Some people have exited my life because I was too needy and depressive and just no fun at all. My ups just weren't worth slogging through my downs, and they left. Others have cruelly exploited my vulnerabilities. I've caught myself on several occasions expecting G to act like some of my exes - in some very awful ways. I just forget who he is sometimes, and my memories turn into fears.

Eacj time I've caught myself doing this, I've told him about it, and apologized. He says it's natural. He reassures me that he is NOT doing those things, and he tells me how he does feel, and what he wants. And it's good.

We communicate well.

I never sing anymore, outside my apartment, or the occasional karaoke joint. Over the last year, all the karaokeing I've been doing has been at this place. It's great to have your own room, and not have to wait for 20 other drunken patrons to warble through "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" and "Before He Cheats." But I realized recently that Duet 35 isn't satisfying to me. It's too private. I miss the audience. I'm still only singing for myself and one other person, whose heard me a million times.

I like the bars better, even if I have to wait. I want to perform.

This is the monkey I can't get off my back, this singing thing. I hate it. I wish I could just forget about it, stop caring, get involved in other things.

Well, I did for awhile. I did a pretty good job at filling my life with two jobs, massage school and then the spa, planning and executing a wedding, cultivating good friendships, and basically taking every opportunity that came my way to be busy. I don't have time to sing anyway, I'd tell myself, and anyone who asked. "That was something I did for awhile, and it's flowed out of my life."

I am wracked with guilt that being G's wife and mother to his children, and living in this beautiful (albeit small) apartment in this town that people are dying to get into with this incredible view, and my parents are healthy, and my friends are awesome, and my cat is healthy and loving, and I have a killer wardrobe and a million shoes, and G and I take awesome vacations and he gets me virtually everything I ask for... is not enough.

I am an ungrateful child! HOW DARE I not appreciate what I have? I am SO ASHAMED. I feel such shame. I don't deserve any of this. I am a spoiled ungrateful brat.

And now he knows. So what if he were to act like my mother, or like Earl? What if I were to get the silent treatment for weeks? What if his eyes darkened and I never saw them sparkle again, if his love turned to disgust, disappointment, dismissal? What if our relationship became a litany of cutting remarks and resentment, because I'm not happy after everything he's done for me? What if, tomorrow morning, I were to wake up in an empty apartment?

I am a survivor. But the real question is, what would I want to do?

The same thing I always want to do.

I don't know if this is good for me or bad for me. If one more person gives me shit about how awful it is that I'm not using my G-d given gift, I'll slug 'em.

When did I quit trying?

Have I really quit trying? Is the fawcet really off, or is that a slow drip?

G will not leave me. I know this. I know he and I are in this together. But I haven't quite figured out how to do this with someone else, this whole chasing dreams thing. After all, it's not his dream, it's mine. He shouldn't be burdened with it.

G said "I love you. I want to make you happy." It's not a burden to him, making me happy. I remember the look on his face the last time he saw me happy, enjoying life, enjoying the world. He was radiant. His smile was enormous. A smile for me. The smile that someone has when they are happy because someone else is happy. A smile that says, I love you. My happiness is his joy.

When has anyone ever loved me like this?

Would this be in my life if I didn't deserve it?

What else do I deserve?

How can I... what?

"I've been thinking about everything that's going on. And I thought... who'd care if I was gone? I mean Trudy would care, but she doesn't know me. But you do. And I know you. And I think... you're perfect."

I am not afraid. And that's step one.

It's a new Moon.

Friday, October 03, 2008

...One Bite at a Time

The meeting was postponed until Friday at 1pm. Today.

Today is Lee National Denim Day. We are all in jeans. I should have worn my suit anyway. I didn't know what to do and I panicked. I put on my jeans and decided to look like a Team Player. I hope that works.

My hair isn't good today and I need makeup.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

How do you eat an elephant?

The problem is, once you realize what's wrong, you can't always do anything about it right away. You have to plan, and document things, and build up to a change. Meanwhile you have to suffer through.

That's where the anxiety comes from. there are no quick fixes to the most important things in life. Unfortunately, the stakes get higher and higher. There are also no guarantees. So while you work toward your solution, all you can do is maximize your odds, and think positive. And be patient.

The progress bar that you see on computers is one of the most brilliant stress-reducers ever created. I wish I had one for my job. For a lot of things. For waiting in lines. For health.

I think I have one in my head, for life. 47% of the way to death. And counting.

Right now, I have one in my head, ticking away the seconds until Thursday at 10:30 am. I feel like there's not enough Xanax in the world to calm my nerves while I wait.

From an external perspective it's not a big deal. But I'm having a rough time managing an out-of-body experience right now.

Well, shit.

I never got a confirmation for Thursday. The meeting might get postponed.

You try one thing. See if it works. If it doesn't, try something else. Repeat until something works.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


For years, I felt I had plenty of time. I enjoyed my twenties in a leisurely fashion. I felt that it was unreasonable to think that anyone would take me seriously until I was over 30 anyway, so a lot of things I didn't even try very hard for. I remember talking to one of my therapists about how when you realize you're buried in elephant shit, at least you know where you are. It's a place to start.

Thanks to G and his mighty shovel, to so speak, I'm no longer where I was, and I've been trying for the last few years to figure out where I actually am, and where I'd like to be. It's just been so nice not being where I was, that I haven't wanted to leave that place of relaxed relief. So I've been letting things happen to me. Letting things blow in and out of my life. See what the Universe does if I just sort of lie here and submit. In a certain sense, I haven't aggressively pursued or chased after anything, and I haven't pressured myself to do so.

And yet... these last few years have felt like some of the most productive years of my life.

Hm... I didn't TRY to make things happen... they just sort of seemed to. Or maybe, the things that I did do just didn't SEEM like a lot of work, because I enjoyed them so much?

No... This is not quite right.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Happy is Boring

When Julia Duffy was being interviewed about starring on The Newhart Show, she was asked why she thought her character was so popular. She thought about it for a few minutes and said "She's a loser, really. People like losers."

Or was that Crystal Bernard, being interviewed about Wings? She said an almost identical quote.


My life is... pretty boring. G and I, married seven months, still glad we did it. I'm looking for our next apartment, and we should be moving into a two-bedroom next spring. I'm still temping at that great company in White Plains - it's been almost 13 months now - and am looking forward to either being hired there or to carrying this experience into a new, permanent job.


I've been seeing movies. Tropic Thunder is really one big in-joke, a bunch of actors skewering hollywood and "actors" who take themselves too seriously. Tom Cruise is the best surprise of the film. Watching his antics was worth the price of admission right there. I can't say it's a good film, but I get the joke, so I didn't feel like a complete idiot for blowing my 11 bucks on it.

Ghost Town is a sweet way to blow a couple of hours It's incredibly predictable, although Ricky Gervais is an odd choice for a romantic lead. His role would have gone to Mel Gibson a few years ago. Think "What Women Want" crossed with "The Medium" with a dash of "It's a Wonderful Life." I enjoyed it, but mostly because I'm a Greg Kinnear fan, and I just loves me some British humour.

I'm hoping to catch "The Duchess," which will probably show for three weeks and then close. I can't help but want to see "The Women." I KNOW it will be NOTHING like the brilliant character study that was the original, but I still will follow all the other mascara-primped lemmings into the theatre... Maybe I just like looking at Debra Messing's hair?

I made an incredible batch of cookies - Nicole, I can't thank you enough. Such fabulous decadence! And it makes a nice BIG batch.

See what I mean? You're texting right now, aren't you? R U Ther? Im SO BRD

My cat is healthy, my parents are fine, G and I are planning our annual winter drive out to the midwest to visit them and stop at his sister's in Kentucky along the way, Yada yada yada...

I went to the Big E last weekend, and had a very long day of pure fun. I consumed massive calories, petted farm animals, took pictures of prize-winning vegetables, hugged good friends, laughed my ass off. It was a great time, and for some reason, felt no compulsion to blog about it. I guess it was a transitory thing. It's over now, last weeks news.

Even this post seems... needless.

Have I said everything I had to say?

Friday, September 12, 2008

MzOuiser Got Her Loot!

The goodies
Originally uploaded by MzOuiser
How excited I was to get my package from Brian! The mighty 2008 Stampapalooza was something I could not be left out of!

I love old movies, and this one looks particularly frightful! I think I'm going to invite a bunch of people over for Halloween and force them to watch it with me! Hmm... Shall I dress as that girl on the cover? Or as Bela Lugosi? Or maybe as the Gorilla?

Check out Hope Notes. They brighten the world. Thanks Brian!

And I am SO Stepping out with my new Strawberry Shortcake wallet. It goes perfectly with my white leather coach bag!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

G-d Bless my Friends and Family

Just because I don't talk about it doesn't mean I've forgotten.

Commemorate this day by telling your loved ones how glad you are to have them in your lives. You don't have to do it on National Television. A simple phone call will do.

Defeat terror today.

Update: After I wrote this, I read this beautiful post.

And this beautiful essay.

And this wonderful article.

I believe in humanity.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wasps, Winter, and One of the Reasons Why I Hate Living in Nyack

(This essay was originally titled "Dobbs Ferry: Station of Death")

During the summer of 2007, the Village of Tarrytown, NY enacted a new ruling forbidding all non-residents from parking in their Metro-North Train Station parking lot.

Tarrytown is a major stop on the Metro North Hudson Line. It’s an express stop, just under an hour in and out of Grand Central Station. It’s got a large parking lot behind the station, an actual station building made of brick with lockable doors and windows to keep out the elements, and ticket machines on the platforms, in addition to the ubiquitous candy and soda machines. There are always cabs lined up outside, and the TappanZee Express bus stops there as well, shuttling passengers over the river to Rockland County for a buck or two. It’s one of the busiest stops on the line.

I’ve been using this train station as my sole entry and exit point from Manhattan since I moved out of the city over three years ago. I always leave myself extra time to account for Bridge traffic on the drive over, and I’ve cheerfully provided exact change to the policemen behind the safety glass to obtain my non-resident parking permit countless times.

So as I was saying: In 2007, the Tarrytown police stopped issuing 1-day Parking Passes to non-residents. That means that if you don’t live there, you can’t park in their lots. Period. They have one small visitors lot that seems to fill up at 5AM, and they have a few metered parking spots, which of course are also always full when I get there. Street parking is also at a premium. The only way I’ve been able to find parking is to walk blocks and blocks through an industrial area full of workyards.

The policeman who informed me of this policy change was very clear that “You people can’t be going to work every day and leaving your cars here anymore.” I stated sharply that I was not a commuter, that I only needed to park there once a month at the most. He wasn’t impressed, and wasn’t the slighted bit sympathetic. Apparently Tarrytown is sick and tired of all the cars. So they’re making it bloody miserable for anyone who doesn’t live there but wants to use that train stop.

Fine, screw you Tarrytown, I’ll do exactly what you want – find another train stop. You win.

I’m familiar with the Hudson Line route. I don’t want the next stop south from Tarrytown – that’s Irvington. The only trains that stop there are locals. It will guarantee me the longest rides home and the least number of available trains out of Grand Central. Farther south along Route 9 is Dobb’s Ferry. Another smaller, not as busy train station, but it is included in some of the express routes. That’s a better option for me.

Sometimes smaller stations are much nicer. They are cleaner from less people trashing them every day. They have a more friendly crowd of locals who know each other and see each other at the station all the time.

I called the Dobb’s Ferry police department to ask about Parking.
“Oh, you should have no problem finding street parking. There’s plenty available, even on weekdays.” I asked the friendly elder –sounding man about meters. “Some of ‘em have meters, some don’t. They’re all about the same distance from the station, just across the street and up a bit.”

Sure enough, the man was right. On my next day off work, I drove to the Dobb’s Ferry station at about 10:30 in the morning. There was plenty of street parking available, just a few feet from the station. I parallel-parked my car on the street a few yards down from the entrance to the station. I felt secure leaving it there, with a few other cars around it.

The station is small but confortably-sized, and surrounded by bushes and wild grasses, flowering in the late summer heat. This was August, and the high that day was 93 degrees. I had parked on a small overpass, and there was a tall chain-link fence reaching high overhead, in addition to the stone rail and sidewalk outside the driver’s side of my car. I didn’t spend much time gazing at the scenery, as I wasn’t sure how long it would take to buy my ticket. Would there be a line at the machine? Was it not taking cash that day? I stepped lively, wanting to get out of the sun and the pollen wafting through the air. I sneezed a few times.

There was nobody in the ticket office. There was nobody I could see anywhere. There was a ticket machine inside. the waiting area was actually over the train tracks, like a bridge. There were benches, soda and candy machines, a couple of trash cans, and two ticket machines. The walls were all glass.

I saw my car out there, on the overpass, on the same level as me, standing in the bridge-like waiting area, looking out the windows at the tracks below. I noticed that underneath my car on the Eastern side of the tracks was what looked like a spot of undeveloped land. According to the Metro-North website, there had been construction going on at this station all summer. The surrounding vegetation was wildly overgrown. From my perch I could see enormous pollinating bugs flying in and out of the tall grasses, waving slightly in the heat waves. I shivered. I wondered if any landscaping efforts had been made during the construction period? If the vegetation had grown wild all summer, what else had flourished in there? What had nested in there?

I know a lot of people would be thinking about rats, but my eyes were on the large slow-flying wasps, all going about their business, flying very heavily from flower to flower. It was a bit disconcerting. I had just walked over that. In the station, I was pretty far from the activity, but there they were, fast and winged and not all that far away. I told myself I wouldn’t be here for long.

I hadn’t been able to renew my EpiPen prescription that summer. Given my allergy, I give stinging insects a very wide berth. If I see one ten feet away I keep an eye on it. If it flies closer, I move farther away. August is the worst month for bees and wasps; it’s very hot, and they have a lot of energy for flying. They know autumn is coming, and they are bolder, searching for nesting grounds and last mad dashes for food sources. They are fearless. Living in the bucolic Hudson valley, I’d prefer to stay indoors throughout the month of August.

But, here I am, wanting to get into the city. So I warily approach the ticket machine. I have to commit my focus to the touch screen, but as I’m slipping my ATM card in and out of the reader, my ears are pricked for the telltale buzz of a dangerous bug.

The place is deserted. There’s not a soul around. I figured I had about 15 minutes or so until the train came. I scanned the overall area through the windows from the main waiting area, which was raised up above the platforms. There was a lot of construction equipment sitting around, big diggers and piping and large concrete slabs, but I didn’t see any workers anywhere. Behind the station, against the river, was a narrow parking lot full of cars with Permits, like in Tarrytown, only this lot was much smaller than Tarrytown’s lot. Dobbs Ferry seems to expect the majority of its commuters to be from out of town. I liked that hospitable-sounding attitude.

I looked down the stairway at the end of the waiting area. At the bottom, it was open to the air. The stairs were enclosed in a sort of plastic windowed tube, which was probably nice when it was raining, but no door. The tunnel just headed right out to the train platform… where I knew the bugs were. Leaning down, my head in the stairwell, I heard an insect buzz, and my blood went cold. Something was nearby. I whipped my head around and did a visual scan, but I couldn’t see it. I checked the ceiling and my immediate surroundings. The buzz had subsided, and it was quiet.

I was utterly alone in the station. No workers. No attendants. No other passengers. “Where the fuck is everybody?” I wondered aloud.

I peered down another stairwell, leading in the opposite direction, down to the construction zone. I knew I was gonna have to go down there eventually, when the train came, so I decided to go down to the platform and check things out. Reconnaissance. Next to this second stairway was an elevator. I pushed the button, and heard it moving up to me. I decided I’d feel safer riding in an enclosed box for a few minutes than venturing into the enclosed-yet-exposed tubular stairwell, so I hopped inside the elevator and rode it down to the platform level – the only level to which it would go.

When the doors opened, I wasn’t on the train platform. I was on the platform that leads to the parking lot via a small stair. I looked down the platform, and the tracks had been ripped up. This was the construction area! In the other direction were all sorts of construction implements, machines and tools, roasting in the sun. I choked on the particulates floating in the air. I saw several large black hornets flying around the construction materials. I got back into the elevator and went back up.

Back up at the waiting area, I stepped out of the elevator and wondered what I should do. I flipped my phone open; I couldn’t remember exactly when the train was due to arrive. Maybe it would be just a few minutes? Why hadn’t any trains come at all, even in the other direction? Why weren’t there any other travelers in this station with me? Was the station closed that day? I fingered my train ticket, which had cost me around 12 bucks. Wouldn’t the website have said something if the station was closed? Wouldn’t the policeman on the phone advised me when I asked about parking on this day?

Then I heard it: the distinctive low-pitched humming that I would recognize anywhere. Something dark moved in my peripheral vision and I whipped my head toward the sound.

There, hovering just along the top of the ticket machine, was the largest black wasp I had ever seen. I was standing easily 15 feet from it, and I could see every part of it clearly, the slender waist, the long extended abdomen hanging heavily down, the airplane-like wings whirring like hummingbird wings, as it sniffed around the ticket machine, likely mistaking it for a soda machine, hoping there might be some sticky drops of sugar to munch on. The creature was just enormous... and, I couldn’t help but notice, quite beautiful.

My heart pounded in my chest and I bolted. Somehow I skittered around the back wall of the room, passing closer to that flying instrument of painful, suffocating death than I ever hope to be for the duration of my life. I sprinted as best I could in my wedge sandals and sundress out the door, pausing for a split-second to scan the air in front of me for more of the venomous pests. I ran to my car, crossing to the far side of the street to avoid walking along the fence, which had flowers blooming up against it, creeping up the metal links, sweet-smelling pink and white food for the evil beings from which I was running. I got into the passenger side of my car, slammed the door, shifted into the driver’s seat, and sat there, trying to slow my breathing.

Outside my car, one of the black wasps flew in front of my windshield, oblivious to my presence. It paused to check out the heat source, the sun having heated the exterior of my car until it was radiating heat itself. The wasp moved on, enjoying the hot energizing sun, and helped itself to the nectar from a flower that was blossoming on the creeping vine climbing up the chain link fence, immediately outside my driver’s side window. All that neglected, overgrown vegetation. I peered out the windows and took a good long look down into the construction zone, and the empty lot extending out from under the overpass. A real good, long look.

The field was swarming with wasps. Sealed safely inside my car, I couldn’t hear the buzz, but they were a writhing black cloud over the tall grasses. There must have been a nest there. I’d never seen so many wasps in one place in my life.

I didn’t scream or cry. I did shake with fear, a fear that chilled me from the marrow of my bones, a primordial fear that made me feel frozen and on fire at the same time. I wanted to scream, but somewhere deep inside I knew I was safe in my car, and it’s not like anyone was around to hear me.

You’re having a panic attack, I realized. You can handle this. There was a bottle of water on my seat. I opened it and spilled some on myself as I shakily brought it to my lips. It was warm and foul-tasting, but it was an external stimulus, and it brought me out of myself. I fought for control of my breathing and managed to take slower, deeper breaths. I just sat there, breathing, clutching the water bottle, until my heart slowed and my vision cleared and I felt ok to drive. I turned on the car and let it idle for a few minutes. A very deep, detached relaxation spread through me as I dissociated from the world, and nothing existed for me anymore except my car, the other cars, the road, the buildings. I shifted into Drive, stepped gently on the gas, and drove home.

I did not go into the city that day. I called my friend who I had been planning to meet, and apologized for standing him up, and promised to try again over the weekend when G would be available to drive me to and from the Tarrytown station.

That was one year ago.

This year, I have been dreading August.

I know I am afraid of wasps. I have always been afraid of all stinging insects, but that close encounter last year pushed me over the edge into a full-blown phobia. Normally I wouldn’t give a damn. I don’t feel I’m missing out on much in life by staying indoors until nightfall during the summer, but I have a husband who loves to sit outside in the yard for hours at a time reading books. I have friends who want me to play croquet in their backyard. It gets frustrating, having to constantly turn down invitations, having to shove G out of the house, quit worrying about me, I’m comfortable indoors, if you want to go outside then GO WITHOUT ME. Christ, the social pressure to be out of doors!!

So, for the sake of my social circle, I decided to fight this fear with knowledge. After all, the internet is free, and hypnosis isn’t.

I have been doing research into the various sorts of wasps, hornets and bees that populate this area. I learned about their habits in late summer, how they invade human areas more aggressively in order to find warm nesting sites and eat our garbage to build up their bodies in preparation for winter. People don’t always rinse their soda cans before dumping them in the recycler, and this provides a feast for sugar-seeking wasps, which is why I always let G take out the trash during the summer. They are instinctive creatures, clever and quick, and primarily concerned with feeding their babies, and simply surviving, like all of us. Many wasps eat other insects, which givens them a beneficial purpose in my life. Bugs that eat other bugs I can't help but like.

And I cannot deny that wasps are beautiful. As I was momentarily struck by the shiny black beauty of the wasp that terrified me at the Dobbs Ferry station, I have been similarly captivated by a paper wasp lazily seeking an exit to the dry cleaner's on my street, and by the Carpenter bees that nest in the eaves of my apartment building. The big fat male carpenter bees hover protectively near the nest, all arrogance and bravado, as they have no stingers and can't hurt a human. I've taken out my opera glasses to gaze at them through my windows. Recently this month a long, slender, yellow-and-black wasp has been scouting out the eaves over my hall window, it's back legs trailing behind it like ribbons. I hope it doesn't nest here, and when it gets too close to the window, I back away instinctively. But it's delicacy is captivating, the way it seems to float and dart about on wings that beat so fast, they are invisible.

One article I read speculated that a recent increase in wasp population might have to do with the disappearing bees, and how the wasps are taking over their pollination duties in some areas. That’s a great thing for our crops, but I don’t live in farmland, I live in a heavily populated suburban area. And frankly, bees never frightened me as much as wasps. I also read about the Northeastern Cicada Killer Wasp – a very large wasp (around 2” long) that lives near humans, the males of which are very fearless, but like carpenter bees, have no stingers. But do you really want to get close enough to one to see if it's male or female? These huge bugs are common in Northern New Jersey and New York - one of my colleagues at work had a nest under his porch last month! I wonder if this is what I saw at the Dobbs Ferry Station?

This is my third summer in the horticulturist’s paradise that is Nyack, New York. People here are incredible landscapers, and plant gorgeous flower gardens in vivid colors that bloom all summer long. They cultivate mid-sized trees that are covered in enormous pink blossoms as broad as your hand, with huge yellow stamens poking out libidinously. Some larger trees are covered in white flowers, and you can see the thick dusty pollen all over them. Their branches hang over the sidewalks, and I have to duck under them in winter. In summer, when they bloom, they are buzzing with death. I cross the street to avoid them.

From my conversations with locals, I am the only person in this entire town who is disturbed by the plethora of wasps that enjoy the fat, happy existence here. I know I am not the only person with an EpiPen in my purse, but I do seem to be the only one advocating wasp population control measures. Everyone else up here is so enamored with this environment, they look at me like I’m nuts, or with pity in their eyes.

Fuck them. I was happy in Manhattan. In Nyack I need an enviro-suit just to get the mail. Which I usually wait until after dark to do, when all the wasps are sleeping.

I do not feel that I am missing out on anything in life because I don’t enjoy gardens. When I lived in the city, I avoided Central Park. I went to a few outings with friends in the earlier part of the summer, where the fields are green and broad and devoid of flowers. This is fine in April, May or early June, but in July or August, I’d rather go to the museum. I do not enjoy the warm summer sun on my shoulders unless I’m on the beach, covered in sunscreen. I am the complete opposite of most human beings I know. Most people want a house with yards and trees and flowers – I know lots of people who plant all sorts of flowers everywhere they go, they love their fucking rose plants and lilac bushes. I only enjoy flowers CUT and in a VASE. I want an apartment in a totally urban area with a maintenance plan and off-street parking. I will NEVER enjoy strolling through fields full of wildflowers. I didn’t like it when I was a kid, and I’m tired of pretending I like it so people will think I’m normal. I DON’T LIKE BEING IN NATURE.

Unless it’s cold. Granted, I don’t like to FEEL cold, but I have learned to dress warm, and I love winter sports, especially ice skating and sledding. I grew up in an area where it wasn’t winter until we had three-to-six feet of snow on the grounds. We’d sled in our schoolyards, making our own hills, sometimes launching off the drifts left behind by the snowplows. Of course the parks are full of sledders.

Being somewhat of a loner, I just like the beauty of winter, everything white and clear and glistening and sparkling. I take a lot of photos in winter. In December, Central Park becomes one of my favorite places, quiet and nearly empty, the trees bold and bare, the birds and squirrels bustling about. The air is clear and clean. At night the moon and stars are bursting out of the sky and the snow glows and the black tree branches trace patterns above, and make lacy shadows in the moonlight.

That’s for me.

It’s too bad that the colder places in the world are so devoid of sunlight. I wonder if I wouldn’t be happier living in Canada, where the growing season is so short. But I’d miss the sun. As much as I hate the spring and summer and all it brings, I love the sun, and I love how happy and cheerful people are when the sun is shining. So I guess I’m staying in these latitudes.

I’ll just have to find a better train station. White Plains was always nice. It’s completely urban, surrounded by asphalt and cement and steel. It’s all enclosed. And it’s actually cheaper than the ride from Tarrytown. Still no free parking lot though, and the traffic is a bloody nightmare.

I did discover the Rockland Coach bus that takes Route 9W all the way to Fort Lee, then hops over to I-95 and heads into Manhattan via the Lincoln Tunnel, dropping me off at Port Authority. Nowhere near as pleasant and convenient as Grand Central, but an acceptable way to get into the city. Best of all, the bus stop is practically across the street from my apartment - no driving required. And the stretch of road between my building and the bus stop is relatively flower-free, at least along the sidewalk.

The bus stop itself is in front of a building full of attorneys. It's an historic old home with a wrap-around porch and turrets, sitting at the corner of Broadway and Cedar Hill Avenue. The owners recently spent a lot of money on renovating the property. They were kind enough to install a whole new bus stop waiting area at the corner, complete with two new redwood benches, pavers for the seating area, and decorative vegetation consisting of mostly non-flowering plants. There are lovely green things, some with long tall leaves and fluffy dandelion-like seeds. There are hardy little scrub bushes that look like Yews. The only flowers I’ve seen are on these small round bushy plants with reddish leaves. The blooms are incredibly tiny, and I’ve never seen a bee or wasp near them. They may not be real flowers, just colored leaves. The tall trees that provide shade for the bus riders do not bloom. They are huge and old, and stand protectively against the curb, shielding us from the sun. It’s cool under there, even in August. I feel relatively safe.

Safer than Port Authority, most likely.

I welcome the fall this year, and the cool weather, and my sweaters and boots, and the photos I will take of the moon and the snow and the icicles. I want to bundle up in my Damart underwear and go skating at the local rink and tobogganing in Nyack state park.

I hope that this ends my last summer in Nyack.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


All I want to do is read other people's blogs.

That's all I've been doing, for months.

I'm hiding from myself.

In September there will be some good influences, and I'm hoping the lines of communication will open.

Until then, I'm happy You -----> are all out there, sharing your lives. It comforts me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In my 36th Year...

I got married
I finished paying off my Student Loans
I worked as a Licensed Massage Therapist
I started a fabulous temp assignment
I cut my hair
I nursed my cat back to health
I told my father he was the best dad a girl could have
I told my mother I respected her
I hugged many good friends
I hosted and cooked a full Passover Dinner
I bonded with my best friends' children
I survived being towed off the Tappan Zee bridge
I visited Washington, DC and Coastal Maine
I saw a person of color and a woman as top contenders in our presidential race
I got a real suntan
I made charitable donations
I went to Camden Yards, Fenway Park, and Shea Stadium
I learned to shoot a pistol
I had three fabulous sex dreams
I let go of the past
I sang at the top of my lungs
I danced like the morning would never come
I spoke loving truth to myself and to others
I cried without shame
I laughed with abandon
I learned to love with depths of my heart that I didn't know existed

It was a very good year.

Today starts my 37th... *fingers crossed*

Friday, August 15, 2008

Chop Chop

Chop Chop
Originally uploaded by MzOuiser
My cheeks hurt. I've been grinning ever since last night, when my stylist worked her magic. I just love it.

Monday, August 04, 2008

My G (mail) hasn't forsaken me...

Wow. I really felt for this girl. Almost like... it was me!

Long Lunch (for me)

I thought an hour-long lunch break in midtown might be fun, but after wandering around alone for 25 minutes looking for something that was both a) appetizing and b) that could seat me, I wound up getting stir-fry from the deli and bringing it back to my desk, feeling very lonesome.

Hey Dimarc - I stopped into Houstons, craving the crabcakes. I waited over 10 minutes for a "table for one," then left. Maybe next time I'll just play it old school - sit at the bar and have cuba libres for lunch while chatting on my cell phone the whole time.

I wore red today. Eh.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Elemental Shifts

Today I'm wearing cream colored pants with brown pinstripes, a sleeveless chocolate brown deep-V tunic and my brown Born sandals. It's one of my most comfortable outfits. I feel soft and solid at the same time. My hair is loose, falling around my shoulders like the long branches of a willow tree, small tendrils brushing my cheek and neck like leaves. My shoes are supportive and my legs feel strong. I feel very much like a tree.

I have always loved chocolate brown clothes. One of my blonde, blue-eyed, pale-skinned friends once told me they hated wearing brown clothes. "I look like a giant turd," he said.

I shrugged and said "It works for me. I like the richness. And my eyes are brown."

"Oh," my friend said, looking at me in a whole new way. "I'll bet brown really sets off your red hair too." I absorbed that. I have always been used to people not liking the things I like, and being vocal about it, but there was something in the way my friend looked at me that I will never forget. A recognition, perhaps. A feeling that he suddenly knew me just a little bit better.

It's natural for an Earth sign to be comfortable in earthy-colored clothes and surroundings. My friend is a fire sign; of course he hates muted tones. He wears red and orange and yellow and white and black. I've never seen him in grey. When we were having this conversation - a good decade or so ago - we were practically opposites. Yet we were the best of friends, and still are today.

I went through a Blue period over the last 5 years, where suddenly I wanted to be wearing blues and purples all the time, which seemed to make sense, as much of my world was uprooted when I had to leave my last apartment. I wanted to be like water... just flow around the obstacles, and carry away with me whatever could survive the trip. It worked pretty well for me, channeling that energy, the flexibility and groundedness that comes with emulating a river. Like my old friend the Mississippi, I just let gravity and winds and the shifting of the earth carry me along, trusting that my Source wouldn't dry up, and that I'd end up where I was supposed to be.

So here I am. Living outside New York City. Married. Driving. Planning a family. Expecting even more change to come. Hoping for it. Practically dying for it.

I'm passing through a time in my life that Astrologers call "Pluto Square." My Life Coach/Astrologer/High Priestess/Good Friend/Mentor ran a quickie chart for me a few nights ago, and we talked about it in depth. You only go through this phase once in your lifetime (unless you live very long). It lasts for about two years. During this phase, everything in your life transforms. For me, this has all but completely come to pass, and the few things that haven't happened yet, I'm working on them. Hungering for them like I never imagined I would hunger for anything. It's incredible, the urge, the drive, that has come over me recently. Yes, I'm talking about becoming a Mom... but there's more to it. I don't know how the rest of this is going to manifest, but I'm itching to find out. It keeps me up at night, the knowledge that my transformation is not yet complete. It distracts me during the day. It makes me irritable and maudlin.

It's pretty exciting. It's like waiting for Christmas. Zenchick's butterfly metaphors seem accurate.

When I was in Massage School (A major transformational time that coincided with my Pluto Square!) I took a sort of quiz based on Chinese medicine and astrology. The Chinese work with five elements as opposed to the four used in Western traditions. We share Fire, Water and Earth, but where the West has Air, the East has Metal and Wood. According to Western tradition, I'm an earth sign, and my second highest element is water. Fire is a very distant third, and last is Air. This always made sense to me.

In Chinese method, I'm mostly Earth, but my second highest concentration is Fire! I was very surprised at this, but not put off. Some of my favorite friends in class were strong, fiery beings. I liked the idea that I shared their energy. I attached myself to them, and throughout Massage School we were quite the clique. I'm still friends with a couple of them, and I'm still invigorated every time we talk. They are a good influence on me.

I have done so many things differently since I lost my apartment in 2005. I knew my life was changing, and I knew I could never go back. With a resolve that I've never felt before in my life, I embraced this turning point and ran with it. Hello, Pluto Square. I'm ready for this.

As of this winter, this phase in my life will be drawing to a close. Part of me is actually sad to see the end coming. As tumultuous as this time has been, it's been a period of intense growth, profound deepening, and a hell of a lot of fun and excitement. What if I had another year? What else could I turn upside down and completely transform? Who knows?

Well, it's probably just as well. Goddess knows I'm only human, and She knows what I'm capable of. I do tend to over-reach sometimes. So maybe, come January, when things begin to settle down, I'll be ready to let go of all this opportunity. Opportunity - exactly what Kieran suggested. What I previously thought of as disruption, destruction, devastation, I now see the other side... opportunity.

Like a forest fire.


For the last three years, G and I have been sharing a small but comfortable one-bedroom apartment in Nyack. We have an incredible view of the Hudson river, the Tappan Zee Bridge in the distance. We're just down the street and around the corner from "the strip," where all sorts of awesome restaurants and bars line main street, and we can simply walk into town on a Friday or Saturday night for a good time. We're a 5-minute drive from Piermont, another favorite hangout, where G and I lounge in outdoor tiki bars, and indulge in homemade ice cream on hot summer afternoons. There's a lot to love about living here.

Because the apartment is so small, we only have one closet in the bedroom. I have half, and he has half. My sweaters take up half of the lower shelf. I leave the top shelf for sheets and stuff, since I can't reach it anyway. On the closet floor, "to the left, to the left," every shoe I own in a box to the left. (Ok, not every shoe I own, just the summer collection.) I have a chest of drawers, but the bottom drawer broke ages ago, so I only have four drawers. the bottom space I use as a shelf for handbags. Top drawer is undies, second drawer is hosiery and shorts, third drawer is tops, fourth drawer is pajamas and swimwear. In the living room we have a coat closet. Half is our coats (four for him, eleven for me). The other half is couch blankets, a bunch of his shirts, and my long dresses in garmet bags. I have a few pairs of sunglasses and a couple of umbrellas in that closet, but basically, that's my entire wardrobe.

Compared to most women, it ain't much. But it's how I live. The decision to pare down my wardrobe to what would fit comfortably (not crammed!) in this space was part of the changes I embraced. Except for the shoes, I like this. I like knowing there's nothing in that closet but things I love, clothes that I know look good on me, that make me feel good about myself. Because of the limited space, anything that doesn't fit perfectly or that I don't absolutely love gets donated. Gone! Out! No room for that sub-standard crap!

Every six months G and I make a pilgrimage to my storage cubicle in Nanuet. I roll up the door, and there, packed neatly away, is my former home. My furniture, books, CD's, kitchen stuff, the tall, free-standing candlesticks I bought from Pottery Barn when I lived alone in Astoria. It's all in there. Right in the front of the space, right behind the door, are two medium-sized suitcases, a gym bag, a few garment bags hanging from the lip of a furniture piece, and a cardboard box big enough to hold me with breathing room. Inside these containers is the rest of my wardrobe.

It's a semi-onerous task, but it needs to be done. G and I haul these packages down the elevator on a rolly-cart out to the car, bring them home, and the following weekend, we bring them back. The onerous part is the lifting. But once I get those packages home, the fun begins.

I throw things out every year. Lots of things. Every spring and every fall, I try on everything in those suitcases. I critically evaluate how well everything fits, and I'm brutal with style. If it's something that I feel I should wear because it's in good condition and I've only had it for two years, OUT IT GOES. Most likely I got it on sale anyway. By the time I'm done with the weeding, I usually have two or three grocery bags of clothes to donate to our local Goodwill. And yes, I donate shoes too.

After the purge, there is no binge. I then set about organizing things into outfits. I decide what tops work with what bottoms, what shoes, what jackets, what suits, what accessories. I look at my overcoats and think about the upcoming season. I make mental notes, and eventually I come up with a list of holes. Holes in my wardrobe that need to be filled with a certain key element - a chocolate brown sweater, a grey pantsuit for work, a pair of navy blue sandals. I actually make a list.

Now, it is time to shop.

I am very conservative with my shopping. I don't buy things just because they are cool. Even if they fit really well. Even if I look fabulous in them. In order for me to buy something I need to know exactly where and when I'm going to wear it - have a specific event in mind. It has to not just fit - it has to fit perfectly. Shoes MUST be at least semi-comfortable, and they must be different in a significant way from every other pair of shoes in my collection. (I may be the only woman I know who only owns one pair of black pumps.) The catch to all this is pricing. It's the one area I'm not conservative with. I will happily pay full price for something that meets all these qualifications. Indeed, very few things ever do. It's a pretty safe way to keep from over-investing.

Admittedly, I do stray occasionally. Last year on my birthday, I paid full price for a pair of green suede platform peep-toe pumps with shiny patent thick heels. Worth every penny. I'm not a complete nutjob.

I am coming out of a Blue Period. For some reason, right around late 2004, early 2005, I got really into blues and purples. over the last three years, I've amassed an entire wardrobe in shades of blue and purple. Teals, plums, lavenders, turquoises, navy... all fair game. It makes sense, given how I was courting the water, and the air. I needed the flexibility of water and air, the way they move around and through pretty much everything. I needed the engulfing abilities of water, to accept what life had given me and take what nourishment I could from it. I needed to feel the freedom of air, to be light, to let myself be blown about, to somehow learn to enjoy the whimsy of the winds of chance.

Anyway. I realized this summer that I'm drowning in all that blue. I love the most recent blue things I've bought, but they are a decidedly greener shade of teal. I looked at my entire wardrobe and realized that I've been floating in this cool pool for long enough.

I want warmth. I want sun. I bought yellow.

It just appeared in front of me one day. Ann Taylor loft had a whole collection in this welcoming, friendly shade of sunny yellow. The other half of the store was a fresh, appley green. I fingered the collections, went home, scrutinized my closet, and two weeks later, went back to the mall. I came home with a pair of yellow denim slacks, a cap-sleeved yellow swing sweater with big buttons, and a navy, yellow and white floral print shirt with a shirred bustline and slightly puffed sleeves.

"I can't BELIEVE you bought those pants," Ameleh groaned on the phone. "You're never going to wear them after this summer!"

"Oh, I will," I said.

Whenever I wear them I feel SO HAPPY. It's incredible what a mood-lifter they are. I took a picture of myself wearing them. About a week later, I found a yellow-and-white striped fitted oxford for less than 10 dollars, and bought it to wear with those pants. It's now one of my favorite outfits.

And yet this isn't quite enough. Yellow is awesome. It makes me happy. It's cheerful, light, bright, fun. It's ice cream and popcorn and fresh lemonade. But... I'm still hungry. I'm still not quite warm enough.

How about red?

I have plenty of red in my closet already. My favorite suit is a rather serious shade of brick red, like bright, fresh blood. That may sound odd, but to me blood is life, it's nourishment, it's sacred. I do feel powerful when I wear red, and very confident. It perks me up on a grey day. I have a great red pantsuit, a red sleeveless eyelet sheath dress, a red-and-white toile miniskirt, a red sleeveless top with a deep v-neck, and a racerback red-and-white fine guage sweater in a vaguely hawaiian floral print. Early this spring, I splurged on a pair of red and white peep toe pumps from Kenneth Cole, with Nike Air technology in the soles. They are comfortable and sexy at the same time, agile and understated. Worth every penny.

So I wear my red clothes more often. I get a lot of attention in red, which feels nice. Men and women like it. Some of these red clothes have been in my closet for eight years, but they are classic styles, and I take care of them, so they look fresh. I think the problem is that I am too comfortable in them. They have become a bit of a costume. Putting on my red pants is like drinking red bull - it jump-starts my day, but it wears off. At the end of the day, I change into my brown pajamas and make dinner and watch TV... and my reds have served their purpose. They are just clothes now. Granted, I'm not getting rid of them, but there's something subtle I can't put my finger on.

This fire burns too slowly.

(to be cont'd)