Thursday, October 29, 2009

Madonna Arms

This morning I told mi Amor that I want to grow some Madonna arms. "Let's not get crazy, Katy," he insisted. Her arms are sickly and veiny; she's just so gross."

"You mean you never ever wanted to be her 'Boy Toy,' even when you saw her dance moves in the 'Lucky Star' video?"

"No. She's outright disgusting," he said, while shaving in front of the bathroom mirror. I like to pester him when he's getting ready for work.

I've heard that Ashtanga Yoga is responsible for her muscly body, and that's why, today, I decided to try my first Yoga class. Within the first ten downward dogs, I had mentally checked out. The instructor kept saying, "Reach deep inside yourself and find a happy place."

What does that mean exactly?

I decided that I should just stick with listening to my ipod and running. Maybe, instead of Madonna arms, I'll work on getting Madonna pipes. I can sing, "Get into the groove. Boy, you've got to prove your love to me..." all around the block. I know what getting into the groove means.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Barbie Girl

What enrages me is the way woman are used as extensions of men, mirrors of men, devices for showing men off, devices for helping men get what they want...
Jane Tompkins, "Me and My Shadow"

I have listened to professors lecture on Feminism. They always debunk the negative female stereotypes found throughout literature: Women are either tramps, extraordinarily beautiful, or old, shriveling spinsters. Once, when one my professors was reviewing Charloette Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," I took a mental note: No daughter of mine will ever play with a Barbie doll. Not ever.

By two years old, she was trained. She'd say, when her girlfriends invited her to play, "We can't play Barbies. She mis-wup-re-sents women." Moms were always amused by this unusual announcement. "Don't all girls love playing Barbies?" one mom asked at the end of our playdate. I casually said, "I've never liked dolls much. I never dreamed of becoming a mom. (Not that I don't adore being one now. I just never thought that far in advance.) And playing house was always my least favorite game. I've always liked being the boss--bossing around my four little brothers always came so naturally. I liked being in charge, and playing house usually meant someone else was in charge of me." The woman raised her eyebrows and stared, stupefied.

Needless to say, that wasn't our last chance to prove we made good playmates. My homgurl soon found other friends who enjoyed dancing, reading, drawing, and running around outside, friends who didn't have naked Barbie dolls strewed about the house, friends who didn't want to pretend to be a mom, cooking and cleaning in plastic high heels for hours on end, friends who roamed and played in a world undefined, so I thought.

When her fourth Christmas was a month away I asked, "What do you want for Christmas?"

"The Nutcracker Barbie," she said smiling.

"The what?" I said.

"The Nutcracker Barbie. I want to dance and sing like the Nutcracker Barbie, Mom. I want to have hair to my toes and eyelashes that brush my eyebrows when I blink. I want to be pretty."

"You're already pretty, just the way you are. Barbie isn't real, Hannah. She's fake, no one looks like that in real life. Where did you learn about this Barbie, huh? From Ken?"

"We watched the movie at Jessica's house," she said.

"Well I thought Jessica was into puppets and play dough, not Barbie."

"Can't she like both, Mom?"

She was right. Jessica could like whatever she wanted to like, and my homgurl could like whatever she wanted to like. I bought her the Nutcracker Barbie and have since purchased more dolls than I care to share. She still spends hours in her room, in her own Barbie world, playing out who she'll become. The Barbie Mansion is home to the best therapy money can buy. There she pretends she's a writer, a fashion designer, a doctor, a lawyer, a mother of twin girls. I always tell her she's going to be wonderful at whatever she becomes. No man can stop wonderful from happening.

At the beginning of the week she asked,

"Can I be Barbie for Halloween?"

"What kind of Barbie?" I cautiously asked.

"A pretty Barbie, not a sleazy Barbie."

"You can dress up like Barbie as long as you know..."

"I know, Mom. She misrepresents woman; she's not real, blah blah blah."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Her Hair

There's something about her hair that deeply connects the two of us--the way I brush through it every morning, at first combing my fingers cautiously down the nape of her neck, then growing more careless as I reach the middle of her back. I always start, "Did you wash all the conditioner out? Your hair feels so cakey."

I begin raking through her top layers, "And there's left over hairspray in your part--it's all flaky up here." I tap on her head, pointing. "You need to wash more thoroughly."

"I know, Mom! You tell me this every morning and it's old. I'm trying my very best. Knock it off and think of something new to say."

She's right; I'm a nag, a nuisance, a broken record. What will she do with a mom like me?

"Well," I say. "What's new with you? Any drama? New crush? Do you ever have dreams about sneaking into the bedroom of the cutest girl in the school, then cutting her hair off until she's bald?"

"What? You're demented, Mom! I would never dream about doing something like that, eewh." she says, crinkling her nose.

I switch from brushing to styling her hair, and the demands start firing like a machine gun. "I just want a side pony. No braids. No bump in the front. Just the pony, that's all. OK, Mom?" This time I do what she asks with minimal resistance.

"Guess what, Mom?"


"There's this boy in my class, and he totally bugs."

"What's he like--fat? Small and Skinny? Does he have bad breath and yellow teeth?"

"He's none of that, Mom. He's just annoying, and I can't stand how he spits when he talks and laughs when he shouldn't. He gets in trouble every day. And you know what else?"

"What?" I say.

"He smiles at me all the time."

I begin making a high trill with my voice, and my eyes go wide, "He likes you, Nah. Woohoo. He's totally in love with and crazy for you."

"Gross, Mom. Are you done with my hair yet?"

"Yes." She moves away from me to the other mirror, swiveling her head back and forth. She likes what she sees. All of it.

I watch her as she flips her pony over her shoulder and bounces out of the bathroom. I note her perfect frame and follow her out, inhaling the mix of her hairspray and Pink perfume; I can't get enough. She's already twenty steps ahead of me when I hear her distant,"Goodbye, Mom. I love you."

I quickly begin wafting all the air around me, pulling it close to my nose. I can't smell what was there just seconds ago. Her scent has dissipated, leaving me alone with the smell of over cooked eggs and an almost gone blackberry Wall Flower. I miss her when she is gone.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blame It on the Girls

You may think your life stinks like old beef and moldy cheese. You may wish you had more chi-chang in your bank account. And at church yesterday, you may have envied her. You know who I'm talking about--the Ann Taylor girl. She comes to church with her lapels perfectly pressed, wearing a real pearl necklace, which mirrors her never fading smile. Every Sunday you sit in the foyer and watch her walk down the hallway. Her boot smothered legs idyllically bend and curtsy as she picks up the primary roles from underneath the heavy wood doors. You look down at your Cheerio encrusted chest, then look up at her. Your mind temporarily suicides as it takes a dive in Shallow Shores: I wish I were her.

You know envy isn't you; It's detrimental to want what you ain't got. So you decide on a solution: run it off (on Monday, of course). You run. But while you're running, you begin cursing your seemingly eighty year old heart (you can only run a half mile before you're forced to crawl the rest of the way home). Meanwhile, though, your ipod is pumping a ray of hope through your sweat dripping ears: "Blame It on the Girls" by Mika. The crawling becomes easier as you notice the hibiscus in your front yard is blooming new flowers. The flowers remind you of the story President Uchtdorf told about about John Rowe Moyle in his article, "Lift Where You Stand." You're reminded that you don't have a pegleg, and the Lord needs you to straighten up and fly right. It really is good to be you. Now start workin' it like you believe it, chica.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Worst Birthday Ever

Last Friday marked mi Amor's 38th birthday. Two weeks prior to his big day, I started wooing him, "We're going to eat the best sushi. Then I'm going to perform a dance for you--something contemporary--right in the middle of the restaurant parking lot. (I do this from time to time--dance.) Then we'll go home and watch your favorite movie. We'll open presents and eat cake. What kind of cake do you want?"

"I don't care about my birthday; just skip it," he said.

"We can't do that--just skip it. The kids would be heartbroken and you deserve to be celebrated."

He rolled his eyes and said, "Don't go crazy buying me gifts and whatnot. It's you who cares about being celebrated, not me."

His birthday came, and at four o'clock that afternoon I found myself scrambling to find a cake and a gift. I knew he wanted an ice cream cake from BR, but I was stumped as to what gift to buy: a personal trainer, new golf clubs. Maybe a new suit? But no, none of these ideas actualized. Instead, I found myself at the distribution center, buying him 6 new pairs of underware. Then, the only cake left at BR was this purple cake bedazzled with daisies; I bought it. I told the girl at the counter, "It's how the cake tastes that really matters."

When he unwrapped his present, he didn't bat and eye. "Perfect," he said. And when we brought out the cake he said, "Looks delicious." He didn't complain about his Barney purple cake and how it would stain our teeth gray for the next 24 hours.

I really think the interpretive dance I performed for him, in the TJ Max parking lot, erased the memory of his purple cake and new underware. My dancing was that good.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


May your journey be filled with joy.

May your journey be filled with joy.

May your journey be filled with joy.

May your journey be filled with joy.

May your journey be filled with joy.

May your journey be filled with joy.

May your journey be filled with joy.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Just a Little Note

A few mornings ago, I found this note propped on a chair between a stack of books and my old black purse. It stood tall next to our kitchen island. Mi Amor had written the note while I was away, taking the kids to school. I read it--surprised, enthralled. The note's electric blue letters pulsed like a neon open sign, each word charged with love, inviting me in to believe it, to buy it: You're the best.

The house was still except for the thump-thumping the dryer made, turning its full load of wet, heavy towels. Loosening the note from between the books, and tipping it against my belly, I read it again. How did he know a trip to the temple was just what I needed?

I left the note propped on the kitchen counter, and I read it at least a million times throughout the day. When my homies came home from school, they read the note too. One of them kept repeating its words over and over: once while eating Doritos, again while putting his dinner plate into the dishwasher, and once more during his bath. My eyes went misty every time I heard him say to himself, "You're the best!"

That night before bed, I told mi Amor,

"Do you hear what you're teaching your dear, sweet son?"

"What?" He said confused.

"Haven't you heard him reading that note you left? Do you know what you're doing?

"No," he said nervously.

"You're teaching him to love his future wife. You're teaching him to love me, or better yet, love himself. You're making this home a heaven on earth, and I can't thank you enough."

"Hmm," he said, not really grasping the long-term consequences of his simple little note.

P.S. As you can see, someone tried to wipe away my little note. In effort to preserve this moment in time, I took a picture--it lasts longer. Heaven knows I'll need to be reminded: You're the best. Don't doubt it. We all need to hear that once in a while--maybe once every minute somedays.

You're the BEST. Don't doubt it!