No. More.Tomatoes. Please.

Nothing is as sweet
As a ripe tomato, plucked,
Eaten, garden side.

Clearly, I am incapable of basic math. There are 4 of us in my family. I planted 15 tomato plants. Each of those plants has thrived (I have the water bill to prove it).  We have harvested what seems like hundreds of flipping tomatoes. I sit here at the computer, with a view to the back yard and my garden and can see even more red dots all over the plants, fruit waiting to be picked. How did I imagine we would eat all that these produce?

I am so sick of tomatoes I don’t know what to do. Today, Frank asked me if I wanted a BLT, my favorite vehicle for tomato consumption this time of year. Is there anything better than a red-fresh tomato and bacon (second only to mac and cheese as a favorite food of mine), with crisp lettuce, a smear of mayo on good old-fashioned white bread? I say there is not. Except when you are freaking sick of tomatoes. So when asked tonight, I said the nearly unthinkable: “No, I don’t. I’m tired of bacon. I’m tired of tomatoes.” Somewhere, a little part of me died.

My friends now scurry away when they see me carrying a brown sack. They know I’m about to foist upon them some tomatoes, and possibly some carrots, for that too was a bumper crop this year. They have tried politely declining, but since that stopped working 3 weeks ago, they just feign deafness and profess a desire for a scenic route through the school parking lot, and manage to dodge me thanks to the slow-moving school bus. (Who knew Jen could do a crouching roll under the school bus before jumping on the Johnston’s SUV to hitch a ride to her own car down the way?)

Why don’t I can them, you ask? Because that to me is worse. I would just repeat tomato consumption over and over across the winter, reminding myself repeatedly that I’m an idiot. If this were 1776 and we were, say, living in Boston during the siege by the British, surrounded by rebels in the countryside, too poor to move or take sides, then yes, I wouldn’t mind eating jar after jar of tomatoes. But this isn’t Boston, this isn’t 1776.

So I’m declaring that I’m officially done being a farmer this season. Any further fruiting will just become compost for the betterment of the dirt.  I’m hopeful that just like I forget what a pain Halloween is about April each year, just in time to start answering my kids when they ask how soon it comes again, next spring I’ll be raring to be a farmer, eager to put stuff in the ground to see what will grow. Just god, please help me do the math.

I Need $25,000…

Music makes me sing
on the inside… Classical
makes me dance out loud.

I guess this post should be titled “I want $25,000″. For what I want it for surely can’t fall into the “need” category. One of my secret desires (at least one I haven’t revealed in these pages) is I want to conduct an orchestra someday. Not just a few strings and wind instruments… I want the whole kit-and-kaboodle-every-instrument-on-stage set up. And the music I want to conduct is Tchaikovsky’s March  Slav.

I love classical music, and this piece seems to use every instrument. There is a gong, I swear, in the more climactic parts. And you can almost hear the soldiers march and the peasants bemoan the fallen in the melody. But the reason I really want to conduct is I want to look like this:


Joshua Bell with William Eddins conducting at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Photo from the CSO. Click for the link.

If I were a conductor, I’d do it like William Eddins. You could tell he really liked the music.  If jazz needed a conductor, it would pick him. He danced, bounced, nearly ran into Joshua Bell a few times (at least it seemed so from where I sat). In general, he appears to have a great time. There was a priceless moment at the end of one piece by Ravel that showcased his personality. A portion of the audience guessed wrong on the ending and clapped prematurely between movements (a mistake I’ve made many times, but not this time). So when the orchestra at last came to a close, the entire audience sat there quietly for a good 5 seconds, no one wanting to repeat the faux pas and clap incorrectly. Finally, Mr. Eddins looked over his right shoulder, eyebrows raise, as if to say “would you clap already… we’re actually done this time.”  The audience laughed out loud and commenced the applause. It was hysterical. He’s cool.

Another reason I want to conduct March Slav is it kicks ass. The aforementioned Ravel piece was nicknamed the Insomniacs Suite by Frank. It was a real dozer… although I’m sure to someone who understood it musically, it was delightful. That person was not me.  March Slav is quiet and loud, rousing and touching… and the final 2 minutes is crescendo after crescendo of every instrument in the house.  Hard to sleep through that one. And if my air-conducting is any indication, I would be highly entertaining, much like Mr. Eddins, leading most people to stay awake.

And the last reason I want to conduct is I want to make the “I-have-you-by-the-balls” conductors’ gesture without getting in trouble. See Bugs Bunny below.

Mr. Eddins did this Friday night with flair and gusto, although he went for the “low-ball gesture” versus the “high-ball gesture” favored by Bugs. It just looks so powerful when done with a tensed, muscle-y shake and furrowed brow.  I want to be cool like that.

Which brings me to my want of $25,000. I have family members who are classical violinists and have played with orchestras before. When I asked how I might conduct an orchestra some day, they replied all I would need is a lot of money, put forward as a donation to the local orchestra. I’ve decided $25,000 should suffice; I wouldn’t make the orchestra dress up, so perhaps they’d work for cheaper wages.  And I think the possibility of a complete and total conducting-train-wreck would bring out a few people who might not normally attend, thus increasing the reach of the  Symphony who agreed to such a stunt. It really would be a win-win for all.

So why haven’t I started pursuing my dream, which I’ve had for many years now?  Other than the usual twin excuses of not enough time/too much to do, it seems to me  that in a world full of hunger and need, my desire somehow feels ego-driven and frivolous. So I’m going to wait.  But I’m intent to make this happen in my lifetime – mark my words, someday Mr. Eddins will agree to train me and I’ll step to the podium, baton in hand, and bring the crowd to its feet by the end.  Anything with a gong is bound to do that whether I screw up or not.

Pubic Hair and Business Trips

Isn’t there a list
Of unbreakable rules? No??
I’m starting it now.


So… what went through your mind when you read the title? Perhaps you thought this would be yet another rambling account of a bathroom escapade that I felt, once again, compelled to share with you?  It occurred to me to just stop with the title and haiku and let you fill in the blanks… see whether your image of what it means would come close to the reality.

Instead I’m going to tell you all about it. For I feel like I need to confess… to cleanse my soul… to get reassured via the comments that I’m not crazy (or at least less crazy than most).  I thought the passage of time would help scour this from the crevices of my being, but it didn’t.  Now I come here, in hopes that the speaking will lessen its hold on me. So, deep breath, here goes.

While on a business trip a while back with two other women*, the subject of pubic hair came up. When I say “came up” I don’t mean that it was an obvious next step in the discussion or just a phrase that slipped out by accident (“so I was in a workshop about pubic hair – oops! I meant public fairs…”).  Granted I understand how she made the connection, but the person who brought it up had to make a conscious decision to make a hard swing around in the conversation to get to this particular avenue.  And then she had a choice whether to proceed with the topic down a side street or not. And yep, she did.

I have, in all my business travels around the world, never been so uncomfortable. I have been in China before Westerners were common and been stared at, open-mouthed.   I have had colleagues I work with break wind loudly next to me and not skip a beat of the dialog. I have been in a McDonalds bathroom when work mates came in and started talking about me (it wasn’t positive) and watched their faces freeze in horror as I emerged (that was fun, actually)… but never have I been so completely uncomfortable as I was that day.

I was stuck, so to speak (think middle seat of airplane), so I had to retain some composure. Here is just a sampling of the conversation in my head as the external conversation unfolded: “did she just bring up pubic hair? My god, she did. Jeez, I didn’t need to know that… what? How many people were naked? Oh please, stop there, I don’t need to know about… thanks for sharing about junk maintenance… ahhh… that was a nice transition to your husband’s grooming habits.  Wait, now both of you are talking about it? Am I alone in thinking we’ve gone beyond girl talk?  Oh great… now I can figure out how many sexual partners each of you has had… get out get out get out of my brain I don’t want this in active or long-term memory… holy crap! Now I’m participating? Why in god’s name did I just say that …   aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

This is what I actually said: “oh really….. (very long awkward pause)… uh huh…..   ha  ha (said as a Vulcan might say it)…… oh, junk maintenance…..   yeah, ok……. Really… Manscaping …… I guess so – perhaps it makes it look bigger……. Uh, I’m going to go to the bathroom? Anyone need anything?”

Have you seen the movie Crazy Stupid Love? There is a scene in a moving car when Steve Carell just opens the door and rolls himself out. I wanted to do something like that – just exit dramatically and definitively from the conversation (faint, grab my chest and slump over, vomit).  If I didn’t want to make the whole thing even more uncomfortable, I might have done this.

In any event, the conversation ultimately steered itself back into workplace-safe topics.  My pulse returned to normal and I began to think, about 30 minutes later, that perhaps I would be once again able to look either of these women in the eye again.

*The exact scenario has been changed in the off-chance that either of these people read this blog (who am I kidding, they’ll know who they are instantly) or someone I work with might recognize what I’m talking about. I don’t believe my travel companions know I write here. And I’m trusting those of you I work with to have some decency and not try to guess who or when this happened. I will not share.  My therapist says this is the last step required to bring this episode to a close and I intend to leave it that way.

My Right Boob

So sad, neglected,
it decries its lot in life:
always second best.

Although I never saw the Daniel Day Lewis film entitled My Left Foot, I feel quite certain that this posting will not come near to its critical or commercial acclaim. If this is what you are seeking, look away now. (Why you thought a posting entitled My Right Boob would contain such enlightened messages and storytelling is clearly a topic for a future posting…)

My right boob has an issue. It insists on being the center of attention. Now, if I only had one boob, being the center would be ok, although a little weird and anatomically challenging. But I do have two still. And for some reason, my right one isn’t happy about sharing the limelight.

What does it do to deserve such a call out? Each and every time I wear a long necklace, my right boob manages to arrange itself such that the necklace drapes around it, encircling it in a ring of silver or jewels. Look at me! Look at me! it seems to exclaim.  Every time. And it isn’t like I’m gyrating like a stripper to get it to do this. I’m simply walking from my desk to the bathroom, or my car to the office. Sway, sway, sway… hooked! My necklace landed a breast. Scoooooore!

This is what it should look like, but noooooo….

It is the damnedest thing. I have examined my gait, how I hold my shoulders, how I pull my wheeled laptop case. I can’t figure out what I’m doing. So I’ve decided that it isn’t me. Apparently my breast is in cahoots with my left ankle, right hip and a vertebrae. Somehow they align to ensure maximum breast ensnarement by whatever jewelry I’m wearing that day.

It isn’t like my right boob doesn’t already get more attention. It is the bigger one. Both of my kids favored it when snack time rolled around and it over-achieved during that time remarkably. Perhaps it is just no longer happy with that historical notoriety. It wants to be publicly recognized as superior in the present tense… as the one preferred by 4 out of 5 statement necklaces.

I just don’t know what to do about it. I’ve taken to holding my necklaces whenever I move about, which makes it hard to carry my water bottle, notebook and two mobile devices. I look like a bad shoplifter. But if I ignore it, I find myself looking down in the middle of a meeting with a VP only to find my breast happy-dancing about its framing, clearly clamoring for much-needed attention.

How do I stop it? I don’t want to cease wearing fun, long necklaces… that would punish us all. But I can’t keep awarding the bad behavior with new bling.

I welcome insight and suggestions for how to get my right boob back in line. “Little left boobs, unite!”  is a campaign I should perhaps try to work on…

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