Lust, or Why I Don’t Care that Bruce Willis Has Aged

Fantasy lusting
emerges soft, dreamily;
the real world at bay…
Do you have “a list”? You know, the people you and your partner agree you can sleep with and suffer no ill consequences? Typically, they are populated by celebrities or other people you are likely never to meet (the pool boy is NOT allowed)… Mine has but a single name: Bruce Willis.

Date night this weekend featured the latest Die Hard movie: A Good Day to Die Hard. Deep sigh. I was transported. I spent the first few scenes highly aware of his slack jaw and weathered skin, but shortly after that, I no longer noticed. I was 20, he was 33.  I was a hostage in need of rescuing and he was the only man who could do it.

I really do have a thing for that man.

Is it simply that I just turned 45 and my main squeeze is weeks from 50? It is that we celebrate 20 years of marriage in May and I just crossed 23 years with the same company? Is it that my older child just hit double digits, or we refinanced the house to pay it off in 15 years in light of our age?

Check, check, check, check, check and check.

The thing is, Bruce Willis makes me young again. No matter how old he gets, I will always be 20 years old and he’ll always be the rebel with a heart of gold and a charming half-smile that will get him anything he wants. I am a total sucker for that type even though I did not actually get a chance to prove my vulnerability to such a man when I was single. Alas, I managed to meet a good guy with a heart of gold and a great full smile who really will (did) call me the next day.

But that doesn’t make me immune to the idea of Bruce Willis. That he will point that charm at me someday; will stare at me with a penetrating look, a crinkly smile and a machine gun and a fast car and a leather jacket and no place to go but on the road with me and the wind… after he kills all the bad guys threatening me.

Excuse me, I need a cigarette.

Camping Out… What Was I Thinking?

There’s no place like home:
A warm Aga, my house smell,
Bedding that missed me.


I could have stopped at the title, right? You all know what this piece is going to contain: tales of insects the size of your palm; the stickiness of sweat that never evaporates; sentient rocks that migrate to the perfect position under your sleeping bag at the exact moment you finally drop off; a forgotten item that sends a child into fits of despair.

But wait… there’s more. We camped out at the zoo, which happens to be located more or less in the city.

Do you know what animals do at night? Well, it seems very few of them sleep. I didn’t realize that the peacock was nocturnal, but he sure as hell felt compelled to announce his presence several times during the night. Asshole.

And there is an insect, native to the zoo apparently, that makes the most peculiar noise. To replicate it, do the following. Go find a kids balloon, un-inflated. Put it in your mouth (warning: do this when the kids are asleep). Now chew with your mouth closed and your fingers plugging your ears. That eek-a-eek-a-eek-a noise? That is exactly what they sound like. But they do it, thankfully (?) at a slow, waltz-like pace… eeeek-a….. eeeeek-a….. over and effing over again. I kept praying the damn peacock would eat them. No such luck.

When the animals weren’t doing that they do in the middle of the night at a zoo, then the city filled in with its own orchestrations. The Cincinnati Zoo is right next to several hospitals. It was Saturday night. What happens on Saturday nights at hospitals? Ambulances like to visit. A lot. The occasional helicopter flew over, at times seeming indecisive about which roof top to land on, instead rather content to just hover for many looooong minutes. I know there were ill people aboard, so I didn’t curse them – I was grateful I was on the ground and not in the air. Rather, I cursed myself.

What the hell was I thinking? I was the one who found this event. I paid for it. I talked my hubby into it. I shared it gleefully with the kids, as I wanted to get them to quit asking “to camp out”. I figured the zoo camp out was an easy way to tick that box until next summer.

[Note: except for the sleeping (or more accurately the not sleeping), this was an exceptional event. Small group. Nighttime walk around the zoo. Animal visits. Behind the scenes tour. Really, a not-to-be-missed opportunity that I recommend to anyone near Cincinnati.]

It is simply that my body is soft. It has no clue how to deal with sleeping on the ground. As it is, I’ve reached the age where I can hurt myself when I sleep in a normal bed. Imagine my body’s reaction to a sleeping bag on summer-dry dirt. My god. The next day I felt like someone had beat me with a stick. In really strange places. With a sense of just the right angle to maximize joint pain and hamper mobility. It took me 40 minutes to make sandwiches for the kids. Later on, for some reason, I decided to bake, and try as I could, I just couldn’t get all the ingredients assembled in less than 30 minutes. My body was screaming; my brain a garbled mess from the total lack of good sleep. It took a strong cup of coffee at 2pm to finally shake me out of my stupor and get me somewhat productive the rest of the day, although I was in a coma (in my nice, comfy water-bed thankyouverymuch) by 9:15pm.

Here is the funny part. Did I say funny? I meant masochistic part. I would do it again. The kids loved it. It was relatively easy. There were toilets near by. We didn’t have to drive far. But next time, I won’t talk my husband out of the blow up mattresses (“they’ll be a hassle” I insanely told him hours earlier); and I’ll pack an adult beverage or two to ease the transition to dreams. Perhaps with some assistance, those nighttime animal calls will morph into some bizarre dream that will be worth it for the retelling.

[I must thank The Embiggens Project/Face like a frying pan for this post. It tickled me tremendously earlier in the day, and at one point during a sleepless interlude, I started thinking about it… and I started to giggle… which turned into silent body earthquakes as I tried not to wake anyone else. Tears were streaming down my face into my ears… I couldn’t stop. And since I couldn’t make any noise, it made the whole thing that much funnier. It was a welcome respite during the otherwise tortured audio events of the evening.]

Do your new reading glasses make my ass look fat? The evolution of a marriage…

Small, square, the ad read:
“…A cuddly renaissance dude…”
With that, I was hooked.

Today I celebrate 19 years of wonderful marriage to Frank. Wow. Nine-teen. That’s a lot. We’ve known each other 20 years – yikes!  that’s like two decades! It has both felt like a very short period of time and like forever, because it seems I can’t recall much before we met.

I’m not sure I’m going to add anything new to the “anatomy of a marriage” genre, but I thought a trip down memory lane would be fun to write. So I present to you my marriage, in 6 stages:

Dating, 14 months: We spent a lot of time at my apartment. I lived alone and it was snuggly.  During this time Frank killed a rat in my apartment (the rat had the strength of 10 men and the daring of a playboy centerfold; I was terrified). He took me sledding for the first time in my life (winter snow is a little thin on the ground in middle Georgia).  It was a lovely place and a lovely time. I enjoyed our courtship a great deal. (I know, I know, who the hell calls it a courtship…)

Marriage years zero to 4: Our first apartment together. I moved in first, a few weeks before the wedding. I knew when the washer and dryer arrived the day after I moved in — my first major appliance purchase ever, let alone with another person — that this was serious. Why the 100 wedding invitations and the white dress hanging in the closet didn’t also convey this, I don’t know. But the washer and dryer… that was it. It was a great apartment. All new building, third floor on the back. We could watch the fireworks at Kings Island every night from the deck (ok, so you had to stand at one end and lean over the railing a little). We lit fires in the fireplace (also a novelty to this childhood victim of gas heat).  We sat on the floor and ate on the glass-topped coffee table in front of the TV so often I made a little table-cloth. (It currently lays folded on a shelf 4 feet from me now; we’ve never been able to part with it.) When we started rehabbing my husband’s childhood home, spending all but sleeping hours elsewhere, the place felt less lived in. Imagine my surprise then when we moved out in 1997: I sobbed uncontrollably at the loss of our first marital home. Even Frank shed a tear.

Homeowners, Part 1: We were virtually immobile for the first 2 years of our life in this home. The previous 18 months of near constant rehabbing had stripped us of our youthful vigor (being newly married and mostly broke, we did almost all the work ourselves. We started by removing the entire roof, trusses and all, and setting new trusses with a crane, if that gives you an indication of how much work we did…). The walls remained boring beige. The last few bits of rehab went untouched for years. But we enjoyed being homeowners. Frank bought me a go-kart disguised as a lawn mower which I joyfully drove like a maniac every summer weekend. I planted a few vegetables. I took a landscape class and redid the front yard. Frank put in a concrete driveway that could withstand the landing pressure of the space shuttle.  Five years after moving in, and nearly 10 years into our marriage, we decided to start a family and quickly (and thankfully) after that, our daughter was born. (I loved painting her nursery (thanks Teneal!) and would silently weep when years later it was undone by another family.) We had cats and house plants and relatives next door and across the street. It was a good party house and the vaulted ceiling hosted a 12 foot tall Christmas tree each year. When we sold the house in 2005 to the first people who looked at it, we were pleased someone who appreciated our hard work, craftmanship and obvious love of the place had purchased it.

The Expat Years: In 2005 we moved to England for my job; Frank became a stay at home dad. We learned to drive on the other side of the road and call it rubbish and motorway and car park and mum. I loved it… and it was hard. Redefining your roles in a marriage and as parents isn’t easy, and often I struggled balancing work (and my perceived higher expectations being an expat) with being a second-in-command parent with being a mom with being a wife with wanting some alone time. But we learned to go with the flow.  Two years into it our son was born and I watched with amazement as my husband grew into an expanded role as caregiver and home-keeper and I chilled out about being the primary breadwinner and an expat. Although we were happy to come back to the US in 2008, I will always love England. I never did fully say goodbye to our rental home there… not sure why.

Growth & Maturation: Remember 2008? Gas prices were sky high? House prices were rock bottom? We returned then, rented a home and stood ready to finally build a house on the 5 acres we had purchased in 2000 in a dream location in the country. But we had to wait. Had to get one kid in school and one in daycare. I had to get used to a new job with what seemed like a 24 hour clock. Frank had to restart his engineering business. And we had to decide on how to proceed with building the house.  Have Frank be the general contractor or use a builder? Will the bank loan us the money in this economy? The house we designed will cost HOW MUCH to build? Meet with the architect and redesign the house smaller with fewer bells and whistles. Revisit the budget, crunch some numbers. Argue with the homeowners association that we weren’t quite yet ready to build… These were the longest 18 months of our marriage I think. My son wasn’t getting along in day care; we were falling deeper in love with our daughters school 45 minutes in the opposite direction from our 5 acres. Did we really want the custom home? Was country living really the right thing for our little family? Was day care really the best option for AB at this time? Did we want a nice house but no money for vacation for the next 20 years, or some other path? When the universe presented to me, one January afternoon in 2010, a 4 bedroom house less than one mile from school on over an acre… an English Tudor no less… with one of those rock bottom prices nearly half of the dream home’s… well, the rest as they say is history. It was one of the most mature things we ever did – picking the collective future of our family over an old dream that didn’t really fit anymore. It was like finally parting with that really cool pair of designer pants that you bought on deep sale at Saks on a whim… they fit, but you never really had the right place to wear them, but you couldn’t bear throwing them out.  Selling the 5 acres felt like taking those pants to Goodwill. You know it’s the right thing, but you still wonder if you made the right decision – will you have just the right event to wear them to come up in a few days…

Homeowners, Part 2, No regrets: 2010 – to present.   I love my marriage. I love my kids and husband and the family we make. I love my house. I (mostly) love my job. We have a good dog and a short commute.  We sold 5 acres of specialty property in a down economy. We can take a vacation each year. The cars are healthy. I have to honestly say I am more content now than I have ever been. Don’t get me wrong — the first 19 years have been wonderful and I’m happy for the journey (and often dumbfounded at my good luck that started with reading that personal ad one NyQuil-drunk March evening…). And yet right now, everything seems to have come together at the same time. I have always mocked those 40-ish actresses who report that their 40s are sooo much better than their 20’s and 30’s. That they know themselves better, feel more comfortable with themselves, etc etc. I don’t feel like I have that level of self awareness – I have no clue if I “know myself better” or not. However, when viewed through the lens of the last 20 years… of the evolution of my married life, well then I must agree. It is, right now, the best. Amongst all the really amazing and wonderful great times, now is the best.

All my love, Frank. So very glad you picked me.

Depressing Mail

We both watch you age.
You cannot halt the winter;
I long for the spring.

The title of this post might indicate that today’s mail was filled with bills or something of the like. Perhaps a magazine that touted younger skin or tighter abs… No, today’s mail brought a catalog. Not a cool catalog, like Nordstroms or Levenger or something like that. It was “Gold Violin, Helpful Products for Independent Living”.

Thanks, direct marketing association.

I am only 44 years old. Although I’m missing one original part (gall bladder), none of my other parts have ever been replaced. I haven’t purchased orthotic shoes or cable knit sweaters or any other item that would correlate to needing “helpful products”.  I’m more than just a little worried about what in my catalog purchase history triggered this. (To be clear, I also regularly get a catalog aimed at very stylish black women (I’m a decidedly un-stylish white woman) so who knows what my profile looks like…)

I could have thrown it out, but instead I decided to try to understand what all is considered “helpful” today. My parents are aging, so I might want to familiarize myself with these items.  I must say the “Suction Cup Tub Rail” featured on the cover was a real eye catcher, so I dove right in.

Page 3 – Dual transport chair and Rollator. What is a “rollator”. Is the ‘a’ pronounced ‘a’ like acorn or ‘a’ like away? One sounds sinister: the Roll-A-tor, like “Terminator”. RollaTOR sounds like an antacid. Hmm…

Page 5 – Between the Seat Stuff Catchers. No more lost keys or coins. Looks kinda cool.

Pages 8-11 – Shoes. Holy crap, some of these look like ones I already have. I especially like the Acorn Z Strap Spa Slippers, simply because they combine the class of velcro with the softness of terry and the attractiveness of something Pepto-pink. Have dog-eared the page for future reference.

Page 17 – Bibs disguised as aprons. I’m not talking the plastic things you get at the BBQ joint. These are ponchos that extend to your thighs with a wide pocket at the bottom to catch what you drop/dribble. The models wearing them couldn’t look less happy to have gotten this particular job.

Page 24 – I’ve never seen so many magnifying devices… 2x, 2.5x, 3x (really, that difference matters?), 6x, 10x, plus the 6 piece set ranging from 4x to 10x. Who needs to work through 6 difference magnifying glasses to read a map. And who actually reads maps anymore?

Page 28 – Look at all the different gel wraps you can get for your toes! No wonder old people walk slow: they have all this crap in their shoes. I swear this one cap is just a cut down condom. Really creepy looking.

Pages 38-39 — So many options to keep from killing yourself in the tub or shower or on the toilet. Good to know.

Pages 52-53 – Pain relief. Also where they assume the catalog’s readers are idiots. Dr. Necky Pain Relief? Dr. Archy Pain Relief? Boo boo cover up? I refuse to order anything that makes me sound like I’m talking to a 3-year-old.

And my favorite… Page 40 – Wipe assist. Nice.

I really can’t think of a way to wrap this up. I mean, after “wipe assist” there really isn’t much more to say. I can only hope this has been helpful to those of your wondering what help looks like later in life…

If it’s Velvet does it count? On becoming Charlotte…

Oh mirror, mirror
Reflect me cool, young, hip, smooth;
Deceive my eyes, years.
The similarities are beginning to worry me. It’s been happening for a while. But it just used to be in how my brain worked or what made me laugh. Now it is appearing in more troublesome ways.

I’m becoming Charlotte.

I’ll give you one guess as to who she is… did you guess? Yep, my mom.  Now I like Charlotte. Someone telling me I’m like her is a huge compliment because I think she is smarter than me and a lot wiser (the benefit of our 25 year age difference).  But those compliments are usually directed at how I think or how I approach the world.

Now the “Charlotte-ness” is seeping into other domains of my being…

I recently purchased a housecoat. That is a very Charlotte thing to do. I justified it as follows:

Charlotte’s housecoat: fleece or terry, hits just below the knee; color family of pale blue or red; purchased at Sears; snaps or zips up the front; worn for several years until the pockets are worn through or there is a good sale at Sears. (There is only modest exaggeration here…)

Picture from Sears' website.

My housecoat: dark blue velvet with satin trim; floor length; floaty; purchased at Dillards; great for lounging after a long day in work clothes. And I prefer the term caftan to describe what I’m wearing, thank you very much.

Picture from Dillard's Website

Who the blazes am I kidding! It has a freakin’ zipper down the front! Just because there is a tassel on the zip doesn’t glam it up! I purchased and am now wearing a house coat.   AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!

You know, they are quite comfortable. 

But, but, but… it’s a housecoat! My mother wears these. She travels with one. She wears it over her clothes when the house is cold.

You don’t have to hold in your stomach when you wear a housecoat, did you know that? And I might even receive guests while wearing my blue velvet, satin trimmed caft-

Repeat after me, it is a flipping housecoat, Maureen. Don’t kid yourself. Get rid of it now. Save yourself… This is a slippery slope you are heading down.

It’s only a matter of time before the assimilation is complete and I’m one of her…

*sob*…  I just found out it isn’t even velvet. It’s velour… noooooooooooooooooooooo!

I Miss Car Flirting

He winks, then she smiles;
A coy look between strangers.
Then the light turned green.

Recently, I took a business trip that was close enough to drive – about 4.5 hours away through some beautiful country. I much prefer driving to flying – air travel is only really worth it when you are in the mood for a friendly stranger grope.  (That shall be a future blog title, I think…)

Anyway, the car rental place delivered my rental car for the trip directly to work – a nice touch. When I picked up the keys at the front desk, I noticed they upgraded me to Premium class.  And then I noticed what they upgraded me to:  a Crown Victoria. I kid you not. How that was deemed an upgrade I do not know.  I’ll give you one guess as to the color of the car. Yes, appliance white.

This car had only 12,000 miles on it.  I do not believe it was because it was new. I believe it was because NO ONE WOULD RENT IT.  I think they upgraded me just so that someone, anyone, would drive the thing and knock the carbon out of the pistons (my dad says things like this…).  And since they delivered it, and thus I had no say in the make or model, here was their chance.  I could almost hear the echoes of “suckerrrr” as I approached the car.

If this was indeed a 2010 or 2011 model, Ford should be ashamed. The interior electronics were from the 90’s at best. My sister’s $12,000 Kia has more features than the space shuttle. This car had the computing power of the bathroom hand dryer at Wal-Mart.  No iPod jack. No auto tuning on the radio.  A sliding knob for temperature.  The front seat was a beige bench with a seat belt for someone to sit in the middle. If someone sat in this seat, our hips would NOT have touched (I have hips, so that’s saying something).  Granted the leather seats were “recliner like” and comfy, but honestly, I felt like I was sitting on my couch in the middle of a large refrigerator. Overall, it was just too unwieldy.

And soooo not cool.  I’m at the age where I don’t get a lot of “looks” when I’m driving. I remember when, much younger, I did a lot of innocent car flirting. You know, checking out the guy next to me at the stop light. Watching out for other singles in cars.  But marriage and then baby seats put an end to that (not to mention gray hair, age, pounds, etc…).  But every once in a while I would like to get noticed while tooling around in town.  It doesn’t happen, so ok, I’ll live with it.

On that trip, in my Maytag Crown Vic, everyone noticed me. I’m not kidding. The construction workers at the gas pump, the fast food clerk, the other hotel patrons… they all watched me extract myself from the car (those damn seats are slippery and deep), probably all asking the same questions – “I didn’t know anyone other than cab drivers and retired insurance salesmen drove Crown Vics… What’s that middle-aged lady doing? Wait, is she ok? Should I help her get out?”  That’s not the kind of attention I was seeking.

Next time, I will refuse the upgrade. From here on out it’s Chevy Cavaliers for me.  Either that, or I’m getting another Crown Vic, putting a scarf around my head ala Susan Sarandon, and heading out with the windows down, tunes up (I’ll have to dig up an old cassette mix tape), pretending I’m in Thelma and Louise… but with a much happier ending. Maybe then I’ll seem cool and get in some good car flirting.

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