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Posts from the ‘the culture’ Category

downers: boy books

Now that Finn is reading, our house is littered with chapter books. From what I can tell, the offerings for young male readers fall into one of two camps: 1) mind-numbingly dull or 2) soul-crushingly terrifying.

You might think a lot of things in life are boring. But I’m here to tell you that you don’t know shit about boring until you’ve read 72 volumes of the Magic Tree House series. Those books are so bad that they will make you start hating things you used to think were cool, like time travel, Morgan Le Fay, and trees.

I thought I found a way to get around reading the Magic Tree House books by borrowing them on CD and playing them on long road trips. Bad idea, if a human is doing the driving. You’d be better off trying to drive after eating a whole roasted turkey and chasing it with a bottle of Nyquil.

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do not operate heavy machinery while reading

But I’ll take boring over scary, any day of the week. I want to cry when I think that my boys could turn out like the kids in “Captain Underpants,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” and “Stink,” who blow up toilets, rob unsuspecting neighbors, and engage in mail fraud. The boys in these books don’t really talk. Instead, they retort, or quip. It’s really hard to keep your kids from saying “stupid” and “idiot” at home when they’re reading those words in books that you’ve bought for them.

As an aside, the effort to stop my kids from saying the word “stupid” reached a nadir last month when my four-year old Tate began saying the word “doopid” as a workaround.

Me: “Tate, what did you say?? Did you just say ‘stupid’?”

Tate: “No mommy.” (Rolling of eyes). “I said DOOPID.”

Point is, I’m done with those crap books. Instead, I’m eager to introduce Finn to the chapter books I loved as a kid. Like the Ramona books, by Beverly Cleary, or the Redwall series, by Brian Jacques. Later, perhaps some Robinson Crusoe or Alexandre Dumas—Athos was such a badass, and Lady de Winter! The best. Anyway, it was with these classics in mind that I bought a copy of “Little House on the Prairie,” and started reading it with Finn three nights ago.

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The good news is that Finn seems to dig the book, in spite of the long paragraphs about the dappled light on the prairie grass, and door carpentry. The bad news is that as a kid, I never realized how old-fashioned the book is in terms of gender dynamics. Ma basically does whatever Pa tells her to do, even though it’s clear from the get-go that Ma is ten times as smart as Pa, and also, not too keen on the idea of a long wagon ride to the middle of nowhere.

Yeah, Ma puts up with a lot. Later in the book they’re building their log house and Pa drops a fucking LOG on Ma’s foot, and Ma has to soak her foot and put on her own bandages while Pa parties with a neighbor and does a bunch of fiddlin’. I mean, if Tom dropped a log on my foot while he was building our log cabin, I…I don’t even know. But know this: I certainly wouldn’t be putting on my own damn bandages. Most likely I’d limp away in anger and then get eaten by a bear. But at least I’d have my self-respect.

Antiquated gender roles aside, Finn’s not the only one who’s digging on this book. The thing about reading Little House on the Prairie as an adult female is that you realize that Pa, being an alpha male, is totally hot. I mean, look at this illustration.

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uh, yes. i’ll take two

Not sure he’s got a ton of brains, but Pa is a doer, and I like that in a man. I also like that he’s a provider. The older I get, the more I want other people to take care of me, because I’m tired. Let’s not forget that when he dropped that log on Ma, Pa was building a log cabin. BY HIMSELF. And when the family was crossing the river in the wagon and they started sinking, he tossed the reins to Ma and jumped in the water and basically pulled the ponies to safety. Hot. If they made this book into a movie today, I’m pretty sure Chris Hemsworth would make an awesome Pa.

But back to the book. When Pa goes hunting with his gun, he gets it done. He PROVIDES. He brings back a prairie dog and two rabbits and some other vaguely rodent-like animal that I can’t recall. All I remember is that Ma makes gravy out of whatever it was.

No one can make cornmeal cakes with prairie dog gravy sound as delicious as Laura Ingalls Wilder. I can hardly wait for the later books when they make baked beans with salt pork. I don’t even know what salt pork IS, and my mouth is watering onto my keyboard right now. Anyway, what was I saying. Right. Pa gets it done for his family. And as an adult female, I really dig that about Chris Hemsworth. I mean Pa.

I’m really excited for the later books. I don’t remember them clearly but I DO remember the TV show, and so I know there’s lots of Mary being blind and Carrie being a rascal and a love interest named…Alfonzo? No. ALMONZO. That’s not a name. That’s a candy bar. But anyway, I’m excited. For Finn.

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naked in a korean spa

When I was young, my mom would break out a little red mitt every few weeks and scrub my skin in the tub. The red mitt was like a sandpaper envelope that she stuck her hand into. She’d leave me soaking in the hot water, then pull out an arm, and then start scrubbing the shit out of it. And I’d watch as my dead skin would fall into the tub in gray rolls. Then I’d shower it all off, and feel reborn.

Ok, that’s a lie. When I was a kid, I didn’t feel reborn, I felt harassed—nay, tortured. But now, I crave that feeling. That feeling of being clean, stripped of all the dirt and grime and sweat that a body can accumulate, just from the business of being alive. There’s only one place you can get that feeling as an adult, and that’s at a Korean spa.

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I’ve been to Korean spas in Seoul, LA, and NYC, but I forgot about them until my friend Kathryn mentioned that she’d heard of one near Seattle. Around the same time, my mom and her friends started taking day trips up to Federal Way and would return with pink, glowy skin and bags full of Korean groceries. That’s when I really started paying attention. You know a Korean spa is legit if a bunch of Korean moms will drive two hours to get to it.

Kathryn and I started planning, and made the spa the first stop of a girls’ weekend up in Seattle with Linds. Linds was working on Friday and couldn’t go to the spa anyway because she’s preggers, but it was clearly for the best, because the first thing to know about a Korean spa is that you have to be nude in order to partake. There are numerous hot and cold pools and steam rooms and showers and everyone moves between these things buck naked. I’m not 100% clear on the reasons WHY you have to be naked all the time, but rules are rules. Anyway, Linds would rather pull out her fingernails than be naked in front of other people.

For some reason, I only remembered the nakedness on the day before the spa. I’d be naked all day with Kathryn, whose standards for personal grooming generally seem a lot higher than mine. I texted Linds in a panic.

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Too preoccupied with my own panic, I forgot to mention the nakedness to Kathryn until the drive up to Federal Way. Kathryn is pretty game, but she refused to believe that she would be required to spend a spa day naked with someone she’d have to see again. “Wait,” Kathryn said, shaking her head while navigating I-5. “I’ve been to a Korean spa in Santa Monica and they gave us these pajama things.”

Santa Monica? I didn’t have the heart to tell K that no self-respecting Korean would go for a scrub in Santa Monica. I highly doubted the spa had even been Korean. More importantly, my authority on the matter was being questioned. I couldn’t believe that K had the nads to believe that she knew more about Korean spas than me, a real Korean. It was as if she’d offered me a recipe for kimchee.

“No, you have to be naked the whole time,” I said. “That’s what my Mom said.” I felt proud of myself for leaving off the “So there.” K still wasn’t buying it. “No, but not the ENTIRE time, right?” I stopped being annoyed, and started to be concerned. Because she sounded nervous and unsure. And she was about to be naked in that mind state, for four hours.

Once inside Palace Spa, we were each handed a pink shorty pajama set. “See!” Kathryn said, the relief palpable in her voice. We received a tour of the facilities, and peeked into the wet area. “No clothing allowed in this section,” our guide announced.

Whatever. I was fully on-board with the nudity by this point. None of the women walking around were exactly hard-bodied. Plus I’d noted at check-in that the shorty pajama set had an elastic waistband and a high v-neck. I knew what I’d look like in that outfit, and what I’d look like, wouldn’t be female. I’d happily be naked all day if it meant I could avoid that outfit.

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you’re not entirely naked. you also wear this hat

Kathryn and I spent the next hour getting our skin nice and wet for our scrubs and trying to avoid one another. I steamed in the steam room, sliding around like a trained seal on the wet tile benches. Kathryn alternated between cold and hot plunge pools, where I overheard another woman asking K if she was a triathlete. I felt happy for my friend. Getting asked if you’re a triathlete while you’re naked has to be the equivalent of winning the damn lotto. I wouldn’t know. No one asked me if I was a triathlete.

At 2:00 pm, we met up in the communal scrub room, which consisted of a long row of massage tables. Kathryn was already face down on her table, being pummeled by a short Korean woman wearing nothing but a black bra and panties. I barely had a chance to absorb the indignity of it all before I was told to lay down on my table, by another Korean woman wearing surprisingly saucy lingerie. Don’t get excited. The women have to dress that way because for the next hour, they will be scrubbing your skin with wet mitts and sloshing hot water on you with buckets. Wearing clothes while doing that work would be pointless.

How to describe the scrubbing? Let me just say that at one point, when the lady was working on my shinbone, I imagined my leg gleaming like fine alabaster in the midday sun, to divert myself from shrieking in pain. Worse was when she unceremoniously threw my legs open and got her scrubbing mitt uncomfortably close to my lady parts. She flopped me over and scrubbed my back before shoving her elbows into my neck for some light reflexology. Face down, I wiggled my fingers and felt my fingers graze something. My eyes opened to see what I’d grazed. Little pieces of black stuff all over the table.

My dead skin. Nasty!

No longer part of me! Glorious.

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scrub glow. much easier to attain than pregnancy glow

That night in Seattle, K kept asking me and Linds to feel her elbows. “You guys! Feel my elbows!!” I understood her excitement. Every part of me felt immeasurably softer, cleaner, glowier. Not even Kathryn’s alarming discovery that her spa lady had scrubbed freckles off her chest could kill my buzz.

And all for $99!! We are hooked. And we’ll be back.

the scariest catalog

I realize it’s September 9th and that Halloween is seven weeks away. Try telling that to my kids. It’s like they have a sensor that goes off when they realize they haven’t harassed me about anything new in a while. Or maybe it’s because the wretched Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies catalog arrived the day after Labor Day.

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It’s called “Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies” but what it should really be called is “Satan’s Manifesto by Chasing Fireflies.” It’s hard to enjoy the last days of summer when I know that thing is on its way. Because it’s filled to the brim with some scary, scary shit.

My kids don’t think it’s scary. When they see it in the mail they jump up and down as if possessed and then flop down on their bellies, heads braced on elbows, to lick through every page with the focus and concentration I would hope they exhibit at school, but which I fear they only exhibit towards the Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies catalog. They drag the thing around like it’s a pet. They look at it in the bathtub, pages held high over the water.

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tate explaining to me at 7:15 AM that he needs to check the mailbox because finn told him we are getting ninja costumes today

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me explaining to tate that his brother is a liar

I brought up the catalog to other moms this week. My friend Heather said parents she knows intercept their copies in the mail and then hide them. Other friends just destroy them. Technically these friends may be committing federal mail fraud, if the catalogs are addressed to their kids. But I didn’t have the heart to get all lawyerly, because God knows, I get it. I only wish I’d had the foresight to do something about it.

The day the Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies catalog comes, the insanity begins. There are other catalogs that will come, but Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies is the ne plus ultra of Halloween catalogs. The wares are displayed on real child models, mostly blond, and each costume bears a long, corny description that seeks to justify the staggering expense of the wares. There’s nothing like girding your loins to pay $60.00 for an astronaut costume and then realizing the helmet is an additional $48.50. An astronaut without a helmet is basically a repairperson. A homemade helmet on top of a $60.00 astronaut outfit is just sad. I know all this because I wrestled with whether to buy that costume for three weeks last year before deciding to bend Finn’s will into believing that he wanted to be a Stormtrooper instead ($29.99 on Amazon).

I might feel bad about cheaping out on my kids, except that I don’t, because it turns out that Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies doesn’t want money from my kind. If they did, they wouldn’t offer costumes like this.

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Don’t be the asshole who lets your kid dress up as another RACE. I mean, just don’t. Call me overly PC or whatever, but are there really so few options out there that you need to indulge your child’s desire to dress up in some bastardized version of someone else’s national or racial heritage? I mean, maybe you can dress your kid up as a specific PERSON of another race. Like, I guess, Pocahontas or something. Maybe. No, probably not. Unless you put a nametag on the outfit that says “Pocahontas” or otherwise makes it crystal fucking clear that you are paying homage, not being racist. But that still feels wrong. Maybe even more wrong than no nametag. I dunno. I’m not Native American. But maybe, just don’t do it. And that goes for the rest of your racist family.

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Finn and Tate have their costumes picked out. Black and white ninjas. With all the accessories, the costumes for both kids will cost a neat $150. But don’t worry. I have seven weeks to convince them that they want to dress up as their daddy instead, using his neckties and some of his cufflinks. The nice thing about your kids picking out their costumes seven weeks early is you get to enjoy the magic of Halloween for two months. What could be better?

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sorry kids. mommy needs that money for retinol

sexting for married people

No one ever tells you how hard it is to blog during the summer, when there is life to be lived. When I thought up this post a month ago, Anthony Weiner was big news. What I wanted to say a month ago is this: there are about 20,000 things I’d rather receive via text from my husband before a photo of his penis. As it is, I find my husband’s penis pretty inescapable. I don’t need it following me around in my phone.

Instead of your penis, how about texting your spouse some pics that will really make them happy? Like so.

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“I thought of what to feed the kids and then fed them”

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“Hey, love the new bag! It really fleshes out your handbag options”

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“We’re all packed for the beach. I have towels for the kids and a change of clothes and some healthy snacks. But what am I forgetting? Sunblock? No, got that too”

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“Water! Drank some today!”

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“Tate put his shoes on. By HIMSELF”

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“Noticed the padding in your bra came out in the dryer. So I popped those suckers back in for you”

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“Finally got around to organizing that Tupperware drawer like we’ve been talking about. Felt GREAT and now I’m moving on to the tile grout”

 

 

adios, iPhone

We’ve suffered for a long time at the hands of AT&T. I’m not about using my blog to trash companies, but it’s been three long years of not getting reception in our own house and spending ten minutes with a wailing toddler waiting for the “hippo and dog” YouTube video to load.

Last fall we went to a Blazers game with our friends Dave and Courtney. Tom and I looked up from worrying that neither of us had a single bar on our iPhones (how would the sitter reach us?), to see Dave watching live-streaming ESPN on his Verizon Android. Watching ESPN inside an arena! What the hell. I could not have been more shocked if Dave had started levitating. Tom looked like he was going to cry. From that night on, it was a race to the finish. To the finish of our two-year AT&T contract.

I blamed AT&T, and solely AT&T, for our troubles. But for Tom, the AT&T stink had permeated his iPhone, and he wanted nothing more to do with either AT&T or Apple. For eight months I got to hear him talk about his new phone, the one he would get when our contract was up. “Yoona, it’s a Samsung. Babe, it’s KOREAN. Aren’t you happy I’ll have a Korean phone?” Tom panders to my nationalistic tendencies only when he wants to buy electronics. I remembered him doing the same thing five years ago, when he was making a play for a 54″ flatscreen that promised to overpower our living room and wrestle it into submission. “Yoona, it’s an LG. It’s Korean!! Aren’t you happy we’ll have a Korean TV?”

A month ago, Tom came home with his iPhone, screen shattered. Did he shatter it himself with a hammer, in a moment of frustration? Perhaps. He says he dropped it. We were a month away from the end of our contract. He did his best to hang in, but I felt bad when he started getting bloody cuts on his fingers from the glass.

At the Verizon store, he ran to the Samsung Galaxy 4S on display. “Excuse me,” he said, loudly, to a passing salesperson. “I need to get this phone off this cord so I can feel it in my hand.” The four customers waiting in line before us looked incredulous. I started looking at a tablet and pretended I was shopping alone. It was no use. “Yoona!,” Tom shouted, from across the store. “Yoona!!!” Shit, people were starting to look. The jig was up. “Come here!! Look! It is so cool!!!”

I walked over to see Tom holding a phone that was approximately the size of a paperback novel. It even seemed like Tom couldn’t get his huge mitt comfortably around the thing. “Isn’t it a little big?,” I asked. “No, no, no,” Tom answered. “It’s perfect. Perfect for reading documents.” Right. I started to ask more questions but Tom had already run over to the accessories display to pick out his phone cover. He grabbed a hot pink OtterBox. “I need one of these in case my phone gets wet. Patrick has one. So does Andy.” Patrick is a chef and has his phone near liquids all the time. Andy fishes most days. The most liquid Tom’s phone was apt to get near was a double Americano. Still, it felt cruel to deflate Tom’s excitement.

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After our phones were procured, we left for a weekend with our friends Jess and Brett, at their mountain cabin. On the ride up, I watched from the driver’s seat as Tom continually used his finger to scroll past the same screen, showing a hot air balloon, on his new phone. It was clear that Tom had no idea what to do with his new phone, or how to get past the hot air balloon. I couldn’t resist baiting him. “So what do you like about your new phone?,” I asked. “Everything,” Tom replied, his tone warning me not to press.

“Like what, specifically?,” I asked. Tom looked annoyed. “Well, like how big it is.” I waited for Tom to continue. “And how pink it is.” Technically, he was talking about his phone cover, but I didn’t have the heart to correct him, because by now he was doing a spot-on imitation of Steve Carrell’s character in Anchorman (“I love…lamp“), and I was really enjoying the show.

“Also, I love my OtterBox,” Tom said. He looked at me as if daring me to respond. He must have been provoked by my general demeanor, because suddenly, he came out with fists swinging. “I don’t even know why you got a new iPhone. Apple sends all their money to Ireland. They don’t even pay taxes.” I’d poked the bear and it was poking back! I swallowed my retort that he’d had an iPhone until five hours ago, and let it lie.

Tom’s new phone promises to provide delights in the weeks and months to come. Will Tom use the clip-on belt holder in public, for example. How long will he continue to refer to it as “my Precious,” for another. I may report back.

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born ready

In certain situations, I get intense immigrant anxiety. For example, at national borders. I’ve been a U.S. citizen for three decades, but crossing the U.S. border is still a harrowing experience, and I can always hear choppers overhead and feel the heat of a spotlight on the back of my sweaty neck. It doesn’t matter that the border we’re talking about is the one that gets me into the U.S. from Canada, and that the only thing I’m likely to be smuggling into the country is a trunkload of Luon and maybe some cold ha gow.

Being at a border makes me remember how my family fought to get into this country. I’m scared that if I leave, they won’t let me back in.

Now I’m married to a white dude, and that helps. When they want my passport at the border, I have Tom sitting next to me, looking as Midwestern as it is possible to look without being a platter of fried walleye and squeaky cheese. Having a white person around makes me feel better at times like that. Also, when I’m camping. Also, when I’m at rodeos. Also, when I’m at a Cracker Barrel. I imagine that feeling of security, of belonging, is how Tom feels when he’s with me at a Panda Express.

For years I’ve felt immigrant anxiety that I’ve never been called up for jury duty. I have friends who have been called up five, six times. But never me. I laughed it off but secretly assumed that it had something to do with my immigrant status. So when I got called up a month ago, I had the opposite reaction of whatever you likely felt when you got your letter. I. Was. PSYCHED. Jury duty! YEe-HAW!!! I was bona fide.

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I’m a lawyer, but I’ve never been inside that jury box, and I want in. Yesterday, on my first day of service, I chose my outfit with care. A prim cardigan over my least wrinkly striped tank. After clawing my way through security, I pulled my hair off my face and chose a seat in the front row of the jury assembly room. I put down my bag and sat up straight. Show time.

I needn’t have bothered. It turns out jurors are picked for a panel at random by a computer. What a waste. And in any event, my cardigan was no match for the Courthouse Effect. I don’t care how normal you look or how nice your suit is. As soon as you get within 100 feet of a state courthouse, you will start to look crazy.

Now it’s my second day of waiting for my name to be called. They’ve already called five 30-name panels without saying my name, but I’m still hopeful that I’ll get my chance to serve. The irony is that I appear to be the only person in this entire room who is eager to be a juror. Everyone else looks like Sgt. Brody in Homeland—as if they expect to die here, laying against a wall, after long hours of torture. One guy, James H., was called for almost every panel. The last time he was called, the whole room laughed. But not James H. “It’s not funny!” he shouted, to no one in particular.

No shit it isn’t funny. Sitting in this room for two days, I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life to be part of a jury. And I’m starting to get the sinking feeling that I’ll be sent home without setting foot in a courtroom. Pick me! Pick me! I have so much to give! I want to sit in voir dire and have someone ask me, in a grave voice, if I have any strong opinions about pleated pants. I want to debate legal terms with laymen around a big table. I want to be jury foreman. I want to read aloud the jury verdict. I want to fulfill my civic duty.

I want to be American.

smells like a dad

Every day is father’s day in my house. That’s my line and I’m sticking to it.

Unfortunately, there is an actual Father’s Day on the calendar, and it’s Sunday, June 16, and if your husband is like mine, he’s been dropping hints about his gift for a solid month.

To be fair, Tom stopped dropping hints when we got our last Amex bill. Now he drags a huge imaginary cross across the floor saying things like “I don’t need presents,” or alternatively, “We can’t afford presents.” The latter is particularly cutting because the implication is that we can’t afford presents because I spent all our money on fripperies. Wait, where was I going with this post?

Right, Father’s Day. It’s in the works. Tom requested a ratchet set, so I’m working on that, even though every time I buy tools for Tom I feel the money would be better spent as kindling for a bonfire. When we first got married Tom bought a bunch of tools at Home Depot. I remember an orbit sander, in particular. He sanded a lot of stuff for a while, down to the nub. Today, despite the fact that he never uses his own tools, he continues to light up when he hears about the tools of others. “Wait,” he asked our neighbor Bill last night, while taking out the trash and discussing (theoretical) shelf-building, “You have a chainsaw?”

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Tom’s not getting a damn chainsaw for Father’s Day. He’s getting a ratchet set, as soon as I figure out exactly what that is, and assuming Amazon Prime sells it. And then he’s getting some cologne.

Tom has come a long way in his personal grooming. When I first met him I would watch in horror as he would wash his face with soap and then strip it with cotton balls soaked with Kiehl’s astringent. That was it. No moisturizer, no after shave, no nothing. The cotton balls would leave little puffs of cotton residue on his dry, thirsty face. I have no idea where he learned to do that, but it was less a skincare regimen than an exercise in self-flagellation.

He’s come a long ways, my Tom. But he’s always dismissed cologne as an unnecessary step in his grooming. And you might agree. But scent is a dangerously powerful thing. My first boyfriend wore Obsession, an ambitious choice for an 18-year old, but the scent of it on his skin has left an imprint on my brain and I can’t shake it no matter how hard I try. And don’t get me started on Drakkar Noir. My love of Drakkar Noir and the songs of Nickelback are the two things that most negatively impact my self-regard, but the heart wants what it wants.

Anyway, Tom seems to want some cologne. A few weeks ago, while we were getting ready to go out, he grabbed a scent out of my hand and spritzed it on himself. It was amusing the first time, but then he kept doing it. I love Tom but there’s a chance that the cologne could smell better on him than me, and I can’t have that. So I’m on the hunt. To find Tom’s signature scent. Something that makes him smell like this:

More or less, anyway. I’ve admired this ad for years but I fear that M7 may not be the cologne for Tom. The ad copy promises that M7 embodies “male sensuality,” but I don’t know if anyone at Tom’s office needs to experience that. I’ll probably go with something cleaner, more bracing. I’m soliciting recommendations. Please help.

my game of thrones obsession

I am obsessed with Game of Thrones and it’s only getting worse.

Unlike my friend Kathryn, who has consumed approximately 20 hours of the show in the last two weeks while holding down a job, I started watching the HBO show from day one. That’s because I am a sucker for period dramas. And the commercials led me to believe that the show was a period drama, set in the Middle Ages. I didn’t realize the show had dragons in it until it was too late. Dragons, as everyone knows, are shorthand for nerdsville. And I left nerdsville at least ten years ago.

The reason I got hooked on Game of Thrones early on is this character, whose name is Drogo, but who I referred to throughout 2011 as “my boyfriend.” His pecs, as you can see, are seriously distracting. As is the perfectly applied eyeliner. But it’s really the beard that gets me.

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Before you start being all worried for Tom, consider that the guy who plays Drogo is actually the real-life husband of Lisa Bonet, on whom Tom has had a crush for approximately three decades. Lisa Bonet is a real person so she could THEORETICALLY fall in love with Tom, whereas Drogo can’t fall in love with me because he’s pretend. So really, the person you should feel bad for is me.

Back to Drogo. In case you think I’m weird, most women who watch the show think Drogo is hot. Linds thinks he’s hot and she doesn’t like muscular men, or beards. Cuz says he’s a H2 check on her hotness scale. Cuz’s hotness scale, called BUNAH, is super complicated, but basically an H2 check means, Cuz would tap that.

As for me and Drogo, our romance was shortlived, because (SPOILER ALERT) he dies at the end of Season 1. I got over it quickly, though, because Game of Thrones is literally ground zero for hot bearded men. Witness:

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Robb Stark here starts out as a boy in Season 1 but morphs into a full-grown hottie by Season 3. I attribute it less to any physical transformation and more to the fact that Robb becomes King of the North and therefore becomes very powerful. Power is hot.

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Jon Snow is also a Stark but is illegitimate. So he has a chip on his shoulder and an outsider’s mindset, which means he’s your classic tortured hero. His storyline forces him to be in cold places all the time, so I don’t know what his chest looks like. But he looks good in fur. Sometimes you just have to go on faith.

jamie

Jaime Lannister is a really bad guy for the first two seasons, but (SPOILER ALERT) something really bad happens to him in Season 3, and then he gets all humanized. Personally I found him hotter as a bad guy, but whatever. I had this same issue with Eric the Vampire from True Blood, who went from being a stone cold fox in the first few seasons to turning into a mealy-mouthed nice guy in the latter seasons. What could be less hot than a nice vampire? Nothing. Anyway, back to Jaime here. His character pushes a kid off a castle wall and has sex with his own sister. None of that detracts from his looks, of course, which are exceptional.

It doesn’t even gross me out to think that if any of the characters above actually existed, their beards would have lice and bits of mutton in them. Nor does it bother me to know that in real life, the actors who play these men are very short. I have a feeling that the guy who plays Jon Snow is like, 5’2″. All I know is, I saw him in a fashion spread in GQ and something wasn’t right. Nothing wrong with being 5’2,” of course. But I’m almost 5’9″. It ruins the fantasy of having a hot bearded guy at my disposal when I have to think about kneeling down to make out with him. But whatever, it doesn’t matter. Because it’s a fantasy. Game of Thrones gets that. I get that.

I wish I could say I’m just into the TV show. But I can’t. I’m deep in the throes of the third book, which is very well written, and in which major stuff starts happening. I’m roughly three or four chapters ahead of where the show and Tom are, which results in Tom and I bonding in the following fashion:

Yoona: “Tom. Shit just got REAL in the book.”

Tom: (wide eyed, sits down). “OK. You have to tell me. Immediately.”

Yoona: “Do you really want to know? Because it’s crazy.”

Tom: “I WANT TO KNOW I WANT TO KNOW I WANT TO KNOW!!!”

Yoona: (disclosure of major plot points).

Tom: “Hoo boy.” (Pause). “Who’s Arya, again?” Then: “Why did you tell me all that?”

tom birthday

Short bearded guys on TV come and go. But there’s only one real-life Tom. He’s 6’4″ and all mine.

Happy Birthday my love.

shot through the ear

I recently turned 36. I’m a fatalist. Anything above 35 and I’m 40. If you’re older than 40, don’t be offended. I’m looking forward to (the jewels I will hopefully receive from Tom at) 40. But I feel like I’ve barely settled into my 30s, and now I’m being forced along, and I really don’t want to go.

The signs are there that change is happening. I was at the mall and picked up a cute pair of flats from a display only to realize they were Borns. Fucking BORNS. Either Born no longer makes old lady shoes, or I’m developing old lady taste. At the gym, I flipped through an issue of More magazine and found every article to be highly resonant and relevant to my life. In fact, the magazine could have been called “Yoona: The Magazine for You.”

Once I noticed these small indicators that I was aging, I was resolved. I wouldn’t go gently into that good night. I would fight like a wild and untamed she-cougar. But how?

Good thing I have a 20-something in the house. Cuz showed me articles on Vogue and Into the Gloss about piercings, and said she was getting some. YES. I could pierce myself! My new piercings would reaffirm that I was young. That I had LIFE.

When I told Tom I was going to get a double helix piercing, he grimaced and went off in search of his jug of Advil. When I mentioned it again the next day, he turned mean. “Were you serious? Because Kathryn thinks you’re having a mid-life crisis.” Damn right I was having a mid-life crisis. Tom was lucky I liked my skin too much to tattoo “T&Y4 EVER” on my knuckles. I’d text Linds about the piercing, only to get supportive responses like “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Cuz herself was no help. She wanted to wait to do it in NYC at NY Adorned, and kept putting me off when I tried to set a piercing date.

Well. Game on, losers. Like a 13-year old, nothing makes me want to do something more than a passel of doubters. There’s a piercing parlor a block from my office, and it looked spacious and clean. On Yelp, it had almost all 5-star ratings. Done. I dragged Cuz in on a Thursday night.

The thing about piercing parlors is that they are intimidating for naturally non-subversive people like me. At Straight to the Point, they had a bunch of art on the walls showing piercings so crazy that I started to rethink the whole thing. It was like walking into a hair salon and noticing that all the photos on the wall are of Carrot Top. That might scare you. You might think, this place is not for people like me.

The jewelry on display made things worse. It’s not that the pieces were so large, it was that they were so foreign. They had a whole case with items that looked like wooden salad plates. No idea what they were for. See? That would be intimidating, right?

The parlor didn’t have the right equipment that first night so we left. Even if they’d had the equipment I’m sure we would have left. We needed time to get comfortable with this world we were entering.

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On Saturday outside the piercing place, I circled the block in vain, looking for a parking spot. After 15 minutes, I began to take the lack of parking as a sign that God didn’t want me to pierce myself. From there on out, I took everything as a sign of God’s disapproval. Once we got inside, a guy named Evan gave us our paperwork while I fought not to stare at the huge ring in his nose and the studs embedded into his skin near his eye. I asked him how piercings like those didn’t fall out.

“Oh, you just make a cut and then pop the stud in like the skin is a buttonhole,” Evan explained, cheerily. I gave a nonchalant laugh and promptly turned white as a ghost. I looked down and concentrated on my intake form. Had I had alcohol, it asked. Hell yes I’d had alcohol. Who went to a piercing place without having alcohol? “You’re ok if you had it with food,” Evan explained, when I looked up at him in hope. “Oh phew,” I chuckled, weakly. I filled out the rest of the form in a daze. I’m sure that Emily, my piercer, found it really helpful to learn that I’m allergic to cats.

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There were people ahead of us, so we waited outside the piercing room and chatted with Evan. “People don’t cry, right?,” I asked. “Oh, all the time,” he answered. I tried again. “But not, like, SOBBING, right?,” I clarified. “Sometimes,” Evan said, amiably. I began to wonder if Evan and the wall art were the parlor’s way of weeding out people who weren’t fit to pierce. Emily called us in to the piercing room just as the last of the wine from dinner wore off.

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Cuz got in the chair first. I watched her to assess how much pain she appeared to be experiencing. Her eyes got big for the first piercing, but no tears. She winced at the second piercing, but still no tears. I felt comforted. And her piercings looked amazing. After Emily sanitized the chair and pulled out new instruments, I sat in the chair and babbled incoherently about my grandpa and the time he accidentally ate my contact lenses while we were on vacation. Emily laughed, warmly. She marked in pen the spots in my ear where the holes would go, and then laid me back. As my chair reclined, I asked Cuz if it had hurt. “No,” she said. I relaxed. “Well, not the first. The second was really painful.” But by that point I was fully reclined and it was too late to run. “Take a deep breath,” Emily said. And then she stuck a needle into the outside of my ear. Twice.

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Anyway, it’s done. It hurt, but not as badly as contractions. Plus, I once heard that when you’re old, you feel pain less keenly. So there you have it. I’m not old.

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the hangover

School auctions are dangerous. Right up there with shark attacks and thong bodysuits. Auctions for pet causes are bad enough. But an auction for your kids? Game over. Because your kids—they need things. To refrain from buying stuff at a school auction would be tantamount to stunting your kids’ emotional growth, something you’re already doing plenty of by leaving them at school to earn a living. Combine all that with an open bar, and you’re looking at a wicked hangover the morning after.

The morning after this year’s auction, I woke up feeling panicked. I remembered the night before, but only the aura of it. None of the details. And I knew there were details. How much had I spent? I knew there had been alcohol. I recalled that. But how much alcohol? I had gulped down a fortifying cocktail on the way in, to try to forget that I was dressed, ridiculously, as an aging hipster. After that, I couldn’t recall any drink in particular.

I looked through the photos on my phone. I was either holding a drink and/or looked drunk in all of them. Oh my God. How much had I spent???

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I laid in bed under my covers and concentrated on remembering details. I knew I’d raised my paddle for new science equipment. But that’s ok. I mean, who can’t get behind science equipment? My boys would need to learn science if they were to become billionaire oligarchs. I knew I’d bought a berry picking trip with my kids’ teachers. Best money I’d spent all night, if I was to judge from years prior. But there was something else, wasn’t there?

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I kept scrolling through pics. My friend Caroline (in top hat) is always the cool girl in the room who seems up for anything. And that’s a really bad trait to have around when it comes to auctions. As for Mollyanne (neck tats), she’s got so much joie de vivre that you can get a contact high if you stand too close to her. Sitting between these two had clearly been my first mistake. Especially since Caroline’s husband Aaron, a relatively calm and mitigating influence, was in Asia on business. As for Tom, photos confirmed that he’d not been in a state to stop me from doing anything.

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I remembered Caroline, at some point, pointing to an item in the catalog. That’s right. A tango party! For seven couples! How sophisticated! How droll. I remembered telling her we’d go in on it, together. I remembered a lot of my arm, up in the air, waving my bidder number around, high from the wine and the energy in the room and Mollyanne’s woohoo’ing. I remembered Tom, fake moustache dangling, lunging across the table to take my bidder card away from me. I remembered being annoyed that Tom was harshing my buzz.

Alas. If only he’d harshed my buzz a little harder, I might have thought through the tango party a bit. Questions might have popped up. Legitimate questions. Like, would I have to wear tango shoes? I look really bad in mid-heels. Or: how would I blackmail Tom into attending a party at which he was required to dance in front of other people? And my God—what about the other couples? Even assuming Caroline could manage to drug Aaron and then lead his unconscious body around on the dance floor, that meant we’d need to find five other couples willing to humiliate themselves. Why hadn’t I thought of all this the night before??

Over the next few days, I pieced together the rest of that fateful night. A couple days later at pickup, I found a ceramic platter laying out on a table at the school with my name on it. I didn’t remember bidding on it. Hell I didn’t even remember seeing it. But the platter was beautiful, and I was gratified to realize that my drunk self had excellent taste in serveware. I wondered how much I’d paid. I wanted to know, but apparently I didn’t really want to know, because when I saw the auction receipt peeking out of my kids’ file folder, I left it there for three whole days.

In the end, it could have been worse. I could have been Caroline. She texted me this photo, with a message: “Is there anything that I DIDN’T buy?”

auction 2

Caroline has a busy summer ahead of her. Learning how to tango, making salad rolls and Almond Roca. Canning jam, and attending a garden dinner in NW Portland. Enjoying a romantic idyll in Bali with Aaron…and her three sons. But it’s alright, both her spending and mine. Because it was for a good cause. The best cause.