20 things about turning 40: The You're Going to Die List

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Congratulations! You turned 40.  You didn’t die.

Here are some things to know about what's next:

1. You are going to die.

 2. All those bucket lists that told you must climb Kilimanjaro or finish your novel or visit/eat on/sleep with a native in 100 countries? So people can say good job, you, and then revise their own bucket lists? People will now congratulate you on just being alive. Yay YOU for having made it this far intact. This is now a thing in the second half of your life.  

3. Oh, you are in the second half of your life now. This is a thing now, too

4.  You did not finish your novel. Let’s just get that out of the way.

5. But it’s cool you didn’t because now you realize you didn’t really want to finish it. You make priorities now. 40 year olds prioritize the fuck of out things. Like writing a different novel.

6. Nobody wants to see you on a jetski.

7. But you might take up jetskiing. Because you didn’t die when you turned 40. Not dying = a curious urge to try things that could kill you.

8. People will tell you that 40 is just a number, like the amount of times you want to punch them in the face.

9. Your body is starting to fall apart. You might want to watch it on that jetski, because all of a sudden you can’t see for shit.

10. You will want to have sex all the time. There’s a firesale on those last, precious remaining eggs, ladies, so your hormones are like a teenager’s in heat. That bullshit about women sexually peaking at 30? See: bullshit.

11. You will lament that the wanting to have sex all the time kinda confirms the cliché of The Cougar, but you will be having too much sex to really care.

12. Those stripey age marks on your chest, tho. You are now in one of two camps: the ones who can afford fillers or the ones forced to be the perpetual Before Ad. 

13. Your vision may be going, but you’ve got clarity for days. You know your people. You know your causes and your beliefs. You finally know yourself – the one you’ve been trying to outrun and shame and drink to death because those glimmers of the real you that occasionally bubbled to the surface in your 20s and 30s was still too scary. You’re cool with you now.

14. Unless you’re not and hit 40 and unraveled. That happens, too.

15. Some of us unspool long before 40 and then you or a friend helps you find that connective thread that leads you back to now.

16. And sometimes you take stock of you at 40 and that shit has got. to. go. That spouse. That job. That path. That you. It’s some scary shit. But that’s when the magic happens.

17. You start to sound like a Pinterest board full of banal quotes. But a well timed F bomb helps take the piss out of that.

18. You start to pay attention to the ones who went before, because life doesn’t get any less scary after 40, but they’ve got excellent advice on ways to tackle it when it does.

19. You send word back that 40 really is just a number.


20. But mainly you just shut up and wait for those folks to get there on their own good time. Don’t want anyone running you over with a jetski for being the asshole who says that kind of shit.

Waxing Nostalgic

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I was invited to speak at Memphis Monologues at the end of 2013, a Vagina Monologue-esque event that benefitted our local Planned Parenthood chapter. I took the challenge pretty seriously and spoke the most honestly I ever have about my body to a room full of mostly strangers.

I'd written it down but hesitated sharing it because, you know, vagina.

It's 2015, yo.

************************************************************


I'm lying on my back on a table, naked from the waist down, my legs splayed like a frog being dissected, and a Russian woman is applying hot wax to my labia. Because I am paying her to.

I've been getting bikini waxes for a long time. It's the early 2000s, and I'm a young woman in a long term relationship in Los Angeles, and getting a basic bikini wax - a little off the sides, around the business, is just what you do. I go to the dentist every six months, I get my roots touched up, and every 6-8 weeks, I pay a woman to rip out the hair around my vagina with scalding hot wax. The magazines tell us to do it because it's fashionable. It's sanitary. Hair is dirty. 

Not the sexy dirty. 
Just dirty. 

Waxing will make you feel clean. It will make you sexy. And the boys? Boys want a sexy girl with a clean bikini line. And on the off chance I'm invited to some fabulous Beverly Hills party and I end up waist to eye level with Brad Pitt, I will not be able to blame his rejection of me on a stray pube. 

Bikini waxes. Not fun. But understood as a necessary evil to make the boys happy. But then something happened around the early 2000 that was a game changer for vaginas across the globe. Seven sisters, Jocely, Jonice, Janea, Joyce, Juracy, Jussara and Judeseia, like something out of Grimm's fairy tales, emigrated from Brazil to New York City. The women on the beaches of Brazil had chosen dental floss as an excellent bathing suit bottom substitute, and in case they ended up waist to eye level with Brad Pitt at a fabulous pool party, it wasn't enough to take off a little around the sides and them business while wearing a micro thong. That bush had to GO. And the Sisters J made it their business to completely wax your business. 

All of it. 

Porn stars caught onto the trend, and voila. I was lying on my back, naked from the waist down in a salon called Smile, because everybody was getting Brazilians, and my boyfriend was eager that I be on trend.

The aesthetician tries to distract me from the pain by telling me that she used to be married to a millionaire and lived in a house on Laguna Beach. Never in a million years did she think she would be divorced, broke, and waxing punani for a living. Fantastic. Neither of wants to be here. And then deep breath she rips the hair off of my labia. 

The pain. The pain? 

Imagine…imagine someone applying hot wax to…well, I can't think of any place worse on your body to remove hair than the folds of your vagina. It hurts like a motherfucker… who no longer has any pubic hair. 

But she's not done, because she now goes over my freshly traumatized skin with a pair of tweezers, digging for ingrowns hairs of which there are plenty. And in case I had any diginity left, I am asked to get on all fours to remove the rest of my hair from my asshole. I'm patched up with bandaids and neosporin, and I'm wondering why I thought wearing jeans was a good idea as they are now shellacked with leftover wax to my inner thighs. 

I am now officially ready for my boyfriend, micro thongs, and landing tiny planes on the little landing strip that is all that is left of my pubic hair. It is a grueling, embarrassing ordeal that requires a stiff drink, an ice pack, and several hours of recovery. But hey! My boyfriend is a fan of my Brazilian porn star facade. And isn't that what we do for the ones we love? Make sacrifices in order to make the other happy? But as time goes on, I find myself thinking that love could mean I cook more dinners and less hot wax on the labia. Those every 6-8 weeks turn into more like every 3-4 months, and I'm starting to look like a stubbly version of that kids' game where you move the metal shavings around the sheet with a magnet, like, now I'm a pirate! Argh! Neither of us are a fan of my current look, but we're at an impasse.  Me and my vagina are done. I don't want to go back to Smile. He wants his girlfriend to have a Brazilian porn star vagina. What to do? We reach a compromise. He will pay for my trips to the waxer. How about that. So now all the money I save from not paying for a wax goes to buying all alcohol to recover from them.

And then as with any great relationship where a guy pays to have your labia waxed, we parted ways. There was no longer a guy in the picture... except there could be, so I kept up with the maintenance with renewed vigor, paying for my own Brazilians and then downgrading to a bikini wax, my thinking being that the next Prince charming could take up the cause. And then Prince Charming showed up, except he hadn't read the playbook. He clearly hadn't read Cosmo. He didn't know how porn stars were wearing their pubes or lack of them. He was just into me.

But I didn't believe him.


Because isn't this what we were trained to do? What the magazines and the porn stars and the boyfriends expected from us? According to the latest standards, your vagina was supposed to look like a twelve year old's with a goatee, and dammit, I was a good girlfriend. I was a GREAT girlfriend. Nothing but the best for my new boyfriend. So I kept going to the waxer. But he didn't say anything about it. And then I started a little experiment. I started going less and less. And he still didn't say anything. I kept waiting for some snide comment about my new 'do down there, like, seen any flying squirrels lately, because I have? Going as the Joy of Sex manual for Halloween? But he never did. Because he didn't care. 

And I didn't believe him. 

His attitude was fundementally at odds with the way I saw myself as a sexual being. You followed the tips, put your naughty bits on display in the way the movies and magazines showed you, and the men would be helpless to resist. We all had our part to play. I was playing mine. But he didn't care. It actually started to make me a little mad, all this hard work for nothing. I mean, why won't you objectify me? But he didn't care. And very, very slowly, I learned to believe him. I did not have a clean bikini line, and you know what he did, Cosmo? That boy up and married me.

McSweeney's

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

So I wrote this thing about my stupid hair.

And then this happened:

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/an-open-letter-to-nicole-kidman-mariah-carey-and-julia-robertss-circa-1990s-curly-hair

California

Tiny budget. Big talent. Proud to have worked with Drew Smith and Laura Jean Hocking to create this sweet story for John Kilzer's "California."

Littlefinger's Debut Westeros Bridal Collection

Friday, May 29, 2015

It's been a long time since I blogged about weddings. Hell, it's been a long time since I blogged about anything. But this brought me out of retirement. One last job, I'm getting to old for this shit, Danny Glover-style blogging about a bridal ad.

A bridal ad.

Just so we're clear.

An advertisement for bridal gowns. That are to be worn in public.

NSFW if you weren't already picking up what I was putting down.

When Life Freakily Imitates Art

Thursday, January 29, 2015


It wasn't the first screenplay that I wrote, but it was the first one that I thought had potential. I called it Crimson House - the story of a famous family of psychics who operate out of a gorgeous Italianate mansion in the Victorian Village neighborhood of Memphis. I made so. many. changes to the story over the years, but the opening aways stayed the same - the most powerful psychic of them all - 16 year old Miranda Delacourte - channeled opera diva Maria Callas to the astonishment of her international clientele.

Crimson House is set in a real place - the James Lee House of Memphis. After the home became the first incarnation of what is now the Memphis College of Art, it flourished until the college set up shop in Overton Park. The house sat abandoned for over 50 years. When I was granted a tour some years back, I got to pick my way through the dark, abandoned rooms, stepping over piles of architectural salvage, winding my way up to the top of the fourth story tower, imagining what it would be like if someone had the ability, the money, the clout to save this house before it was too late to salvage. I kept returning to that dusty parlor, imagining my haunted, doomed psychic in the throws of the spirit world, singing until she collapsed.

Last night, I got to see the scene play out for real.

Minus the psychics.

I think.

Opera singer Kallen Esperian performed in that beautifully renovated parlor to the amazement of her guests. There did not appear to be any mediumship on display - not that I know of - but I had serious chills upon chills watching life imitate art in the exact room where I'd pictured it so many years prior. The James Lee House is now a gorgeous B&B, resurrected by Jose and Jennifer Velazquez, and I only hope I didn't overwhelm them with my complete and total fangirldom. I'm thrilled the city of Memphis gets this jewel back in its architectural crown. Maybe now its time it gets a spooky movie out of it, too.

How to Kill Lice and Save your Marriage

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Your child has lice. It is Sunday, because that is when lice permit themselves to be discovered -  in between the window of doctor’s offices being closed for the weekend and school starting the next morning after a long, endless summer. Somehow you survived the 1980s and sleepaway camp with nary a louse, but there it is, a microscopic nasty who is using your precious child’s scalp as their own Air B&B.

You immediately google. You immediately regret it. So. Many. Photos.

But you dive back in.

You have not read such hotly contested mommy battles since the great breast vs formula debates of the 2000s. It is reduced down to this: To lather your child’s sweet, sweet lousy (that word!) head with pesticide or not? Not is defined as apple cider vinegar, regular vinegar, coconut oil, olive oil, kerosene (kerosene?? Please don’t try this at home) rosemary, tea tree oil, face wash, mayonnaise, army-grade buzz clippers. School is tomorrow. And your friend tells you about how she won the battle by slathering her hair with a jar of mayonnaise and suffocating the fuckers inside a shower cap. Overnight. The squuuuuiiiiiissssssh.

You choose the nuclear option and head to Walgreens.

Eeenie, meenie, miney, Nix. You also buy the RobiComb that glows red and purports to kills lice on contact, like a plastic Terminator gunning for lousy John Connors. The cashier rings it up and you say it, you say the words out loud.  My kid has…lice. No shit, her eyes tell you. She’s the one charging your debit card for the $12 terminator comb and $30 in shampoo and hair clips and shower caps but you see her twitch. She scratches her head.

The power. You are scratching your head right now, aren't you? Savor it. It is the only power you will ever have.

At home you marshal your defenses.  Lice shampoo, boiling water, towels, the hilarious, plastic nit comb that came with the shampoo box that is about as effective as asking your toddler to get himself dressed, shower caps, DVDs, and a stiff drink, because you are about to coat the heads of your obedient, sweet seven year old and her three year old brother, who may or may not be the prince of darkness. You promise him cookies.  He promises nothing.

You strip the beds, the stuffed animals, the pillows, anything that was in proximity to louse HQ and shove it all into the washing machine with enough bleach and heat to turn any stowaway critters platinum. You read that stuffed animals are to be bagged and kept in an attic for 2 weeks so that the lice will die screaming, gasping deaths.  You also read that lice can only live away from the scalp for a few hours so this bagging/attic instructions sound like the fetishes of a kidnapper sadist.

You will soon wholeheartedly agree.

You get to work, lathering gunk, washing out gunk, trapping little critters with the worthless piece of shit comb and 45 minutes in, you lose the comb, the gloves, and you are nitpicking – you are officially nitpicking – teeny tiny lice eggs (nits) stuck to tiny individual hairs with a substance that the government wishes it could reproduce in a lab because nothing – except your wicked fingernails – is getting between that egg and its new home.  Oh and that flaky cradle cap on your sweet baby’s head you ignored as those wispy curls grew in as helpful camouflage? It has now morphed into adorable tectonic plates of dandruff and you get to play a super fun new game – Is it a Nit or Is it a Microscopic Flake of Dead Skin Because They Look Exactly Alike! You discover two hours in that you are good at nitpicking. You discover that – gasp – you might actually enjoy it. You fantasize about starting a lice busting business. Nitpickers. Adorable! There will be cute swivel chairs and pickers that go by codenames like Roz and Shasta so if you are spotted out in public later by a former client and she’s all Bubbles! The chick that de-loused my kids’ hair! and you’re all I beg your pardon, ma’am, but my name is Linda. Because I care about your dignity. 

After the third or fourth hour of combing your daughter’s long, long hair that you couldn’t bear to cut because your mother kept your curls so closely cropped that you resembled Pat Nixon well into middle school, you care less about Nitpickers and more about the stabbing pains in your hunched back and the viscous blob that now passes for your vision. Your son – or some blonde with a blob for a face – seriously, your vision is fucked - asks for another cookie. You open up a package of oreos and another bottle of wine. Finally you collapse into beds with damp sheets and shower caps and dream of nothing because even your subconscious has short circuited from the psychosomatic twitching and scratching and OH MY GOD THEY ARE ON YOUR PILLOW. No that's just crumbs because somehow in the past two minutes one of your children decided to eat an oreo right where you lay your face.

For days you will obsessively examine your child’s head, grabbing her in grocery stores and the playground and the kitchen and peering at her scalp as if it might offer up the answer to life. She will obediently freeze as she has learned it’s better if you don’t fight. You will start to feel confident, dare I say, smug, that you tackled the lice infestation in one sitting. Day 7 will arrive when you are supposed to repeat the lice shampoo treatment and because you are smug, you will choose to coat your family’s head in coconut oil because it is kinder to the earth, your child’s scalp, and those now coconut-scented lice.

Because somehow you missed one.
One tiny microscopic nit and suddenly that stuff that you swore was dandruff is now spreading. And naturally, today is Sunday. The afterhours operator at the pediatrician gives you the lowdown: Cetaphil. Like how a virulent strain of food poisoning makes ladies foreheads resemble baby butts, coating your kids hair in generic face wash can end the plague. So it’s back to Walgreens and the refrigerator and liquor cabinet for provisions and your husband opens the oreos this time because he feels like shit that he has to work on another Sunday, leaving you to battle creepy crawly Satan. Before he goes, he submits to a nit check, your fingers running all through his scalp and his dark, dark, hair and you wonder why brunettes had to be your type because you could have lost Jimmy Hoffa in this dark mess, forget about finding a microscopic bug that matches his same exact hair color, and you feel his body relaxing, his body leaning back into yours.


And then it is your turn. He runs his hands through your hair – you assume it’s him, I mean you are completely blind at this point – and you can’t remember the last time you focused this kind of attention on each other. Oh wait -you do!  There was that time when you were dating, long before children, when he actually drew you a bath and washed your hair by candlelight, indulging a Pa from Little Hour on the Prairie fantasy you didn't even know you had - and now he is bitching about your terrible dandruff problem, I mean it's everywhere he is telling you - and he's massaging generic facewash into your scalp, and maybe it’s the wine or the oreos, but this is the best vacation you’ve had since the second child was born. And then he is washing his hands and he's out the door but you suddenly you don’t feel so bad, even when that second child dumps the entire bowl of live lice you scavenged onto the carpet and rolls around in it. 


Second children are adorable. So is that husband.