Monday, October 28, 2013

Young and Sophisticated

Aight. So. Two things I did recently that I’d like to discuss include the following:

1. Went to a Salt N Pepa show at a sketchy venue
2. Went to try to buy fancy lady perfume at an upscale cosmetics store

Things I learned:

1. I am too old to be up until 4am
2. Smelling good is waaaayyyyy to complicated

Recommendations I have for the host establishments of said activities:

1. Consider the demographics of your crowd when scheduling a show
2. Two words: fewer choices

These activities are clearly unrelated. Nearly opposite, in fact. I know that. Do I care enough to give them separate entries? Nope. They have a similar theme in the end. Sort of.

Let’s begin with the show, shall we? For anyone who doesn’t know, Salt N Pepa is an old *skool* hip hop girl group from the 80’s, made popular by such supahfly hits as “Push It”, “Shoop”, and “Whatta Man”. While both women are in their mid-to-late forties now, they sound just like they did on the original recordings and still have some moves…or at least a lot of energy. They look pretty good too (Salt is stacked). The awkward aspect of the performance for me was that they had some handsome dancing boys that were probably half their age, acting out cheesy narratives to their sex-themed songs (including, of course, the hit “Let’s Talk About Sex”). With them. Acting out cheesy sexy narratives with them. I’m not hating on the cougar thing (good for you if you can pull that off), but Salt N Pepa’s kids are probably older than their dancers and the mommyprude in me got a tad squeamish. But more than that it was funny. And more than that, it was fun. I love me a good sing along. 

But moving on to the recommendation mentioned above. One would think that the average age of an S&P fan to be at least 35. Maybe more like 45. While we observed a wide range of ages at the show, we were definitely among the youngest (which was refreshing). But think about it. People our age and up don’t typically party all night. We often have jobs and kids and babysitters to get home to and things to get up and do in the morning. We want to go home and go to bed and would prefer to be at least somewhat functional tomorrow. Maybe I am being a total square here, but I was perturbed to discover that the headliner (S&P) didn’t even come onstage until after 1am. 1:00am! And since they obviously aren’t 21 either and wanted to go to bed just like the rest of us, they only played for thirty minutes, max. 

The doors opened at 8. E-i-g-h-t. That’s FIVE hours of openers. Being the fashionably late hipsters that we are, we arrived closer to 11pm (yawning all the while on the train ride over and bemoaning the fact that we were usually in bed by now), and only had to endure two or three hours of filler. Not to say all the openers sucked, but we got real tired of being told “When I say hell, you say yeah!” over and over again. I’ll say whatever I feel like saying, thank you very much. And of course there’s the incessant “Put your hands up!” and “Somebody screeaaaaam!” They’re so damn bossy. 

I especially enjoyed how some of them seemed like insecure teenagers who want to prove their coolness by bragging about their drug and alcohol use. Hey guy, you’re 38. You don’t need to keep telling us on repeat that you “like to get high like you like to get drunk”. It’s unbecoming of a gentleman your age. Plus they kept asserting the fact “This is real hip-hop!” And there we were, thinking it was faux. Good thing they gave us that constant reminder. As if the smoke and booze saturated environment throbbing with thunderous bass beats didn’t keep us aware of all these fun facts. 

Entertaining side notes:

1. The bathroom graffiti of the ghetto dive was filled with positive affirmations about love and beauty.
2. While I was sad not to be able to enjoy a beer, I took advantage of being pregnant in order to steal one of the few highly coveted chairs in the area to get off my feet.
3. The huge ad banners for a particular brand of rum failed to recognize the irony of showcasing the name “YOLO” right next to “gluten-free”.
4. There was an awesome older gentleman (sixties?) who danced onstage to “Whatta Man” like a champ and then later gave us hugs and asked us if he had properly “represented Denver”.

But I digress. I recommend this venue considers the demographic of the audience, and tries to get the headliner on at a more reasonable hour for us old timers. By the time the show ended and we finally managed to hail a cab (after jogging upstream to beat the others) to get back to the apartment where my car was and then I drove myself an hour home (don’t fret I obviously wasn’t drinking) because I had to get back for the freaking babysitter…yeah, 4am. I had a no-sleep hangover because guess who didn’t want to sleep in all day? My children. They were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (i.e. loud and hyper and demanding as frick) right on schedule, at 7am. I allowed myself slightly more coffee that day.

Story #2 takes place in an entirely different part of town with an entirely different crowd. And I was no longer sporting a man tank that read “P-P-P-PUSH IT REAL GOOD”. I was in my “nice” clothes for work though—meaning I’d actually changed out of the yoga pants—and still felt a little schlubby at the swanky mall that housed the cosmetics store where I had a gift card meant for perfume. After circling the parking lot for a good long while like a vulture with the hordes of other parking spot-less cars, I managed to find my way into the makeup store and was immediately approached by a super chic, polished clerk offering her assistance. 

“I have this gift card and I’m not sure how much it’s for and I need to get perfume but I don’t know how because that massive wall of perfumes is scary and overwhelming.” I blurted instantly. She pawned me off on someone else and ran away before I knew what was happening. A fragrance expert, apparently. As I imagined and dreaded, her first question (a totally reasonable one) was “what do you like?” I don’t know. I’ve been using the same perfume since I was 15, and only occasionally, cuz I’m not a real perfumey sort. I only recently decided that perhaps since my age has doubled and I don't shower often enough I ought to try something else.

She got out a can of coffee beans in a special metal jar with a parmesan cheese style lid, meant to cleanse the nasal palette between sniffs. Then she started suggesting fragrances based solely on my unsure remark that I don’t love overly floral ones. She would offer her carefully selected product, describing the subtle notes with impressive detail and then step back to thoughtfully observe my sniffing. I’d take several long, deep whiffs and stare meditatively at the ceiling…then shrug. Even my pregnancy-heightened sense of smell could not detect all the subtleties or differences in these perfumes. All I could say was “This one’s alright, that one’s too flowery, this one smells like a grandma, that one is weird, this one’s kinna fruity.” I could not distinguish the “fresh top notes of mandarin, lychee, and bergamot playing softly against the sweet innocence of lily of the valley” or the “elegance of madonna lily and the heady opulence of Indian tuberose, blended with velvety jasmine and addictively sweet plum nectar”. (WTF is lychee and bergamot and tuberose anyway? I linked wikipedia for ya.)

I got super light-headed just from the nonstop inhalation. Too many long breaths in. And they all started smelling the same, despite the coffee huffing. I guess I lack a discriminating sniffer. Still, I was there for almost an hour. There were hundreds…seriously an unending wall, floor to ceiling…HOW does anyone choose? How?!

One of my favorite things about the fancy perfume industry is the *literature*. As if the ads and commercials aren't abstract and wacked out enough. I freaking love reading the over-the-top descriptions. Seriously, look them up and read some just for kicks. For example, one Dolce and Gabbana scent is written up as a “deeply feminine blend of luxurious ingredients as potent and captivating as the emotion of desire itself, which leads us on a journey of opulent seduction”. What the what? A Calvin Klein fragrance tells me that if I wear their perfume I will become “every man's fantasy”, while Dior tells me that I’ll be a “daringly sexy woman”. One of Armani’s scents just sounds delicious: “zesty blood orange, ginger, and pear sorbet softened with hints of sambac jasmine, orange blossom, and lavender honey, warmed with precious woods and vanilla”. 

Even the names of the fragrances are enough to get me giggling, although the professionals aren’t nearly as tickled. Evidently I am drawn to the ones with the silliest labels, like “Hypnotic Poison” and “Forbidden Euphoria”, fragrances that “ignite the senses” or “evoke long-forgotten memories and incite deep passion”. I kept reading everything aloud and guffawing, while the clerk just smiled politely. 

To her credit, she was very patient with the cosmetics Philistine that I am and ended up giving me a bunch of samples to take home. It’s just as impossible to pick even when there’s just six options. I feel like it’s a big commitment.

Sexy or tasty, all my new perfume options vary greatly from my daily essence au natural, which might be described as “a stunning perfume, overwhelming and irresistible like the joy of living in the inescapable prison that is motherhood. The scent is surprisingly colored with the liveliness of reworn clothing, the happiness of dog, and the spontaneity of poop. Familiar and resolute notes are expressed with the intensity of watermelon children’s toothpaste, the freshness of Secret Outlast deoderant, the charm of Febreeze, and the spirit of microwaved day-old coffee. The deep and true base embodies the character of skipped showers, the fullness of graham crackers, and the embrace of alfalfa hay.”

If that doesn't make me every man's fantasy, I don't know what does. Any good suggestions for the name of my signature fragrance?

If the story of the Salt N Pepa show has any connection to the perfume story, despite the polar opposite nature of their location, it’s their shared moral:

1. Being young and energetic and hip is hard work
2. Being sophisticated and decisive is hard work
3. Being young and energetic and hip and sophisticated and decisive is especially hard when you have two small children and are seven months pregnant, which cumulatively create an exhausted brainless slob.

I’d like to close by thanking a recently married pal who granted me both opportunities to grow as a person with such enriching experiences that got me outside my comfort zone and gave me this blog fodder. I'd also like to thank the pal who demanded I try to write an ell oh ell blog. Hope this suffices. <3

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Six Month Update

I know I’ve been a total slacker in keeping up with this blog. Not only have I been posting less frequently, I feel like I’ve let “you” (whoever YOU are reading this) down in terms of content and quality. HowEVER, I never really set forth any sort of mission statement or specific production goals, so never mind that sentiment. This blog’s very essence is a testament to my state of being at this phase in my life: random, disjointed, roller-coaster-rific. 

Organization was always the hardest part of essay writing for me in school anyway.

I thought I ought to document a little more about my surrogacy “journey” at this mid-pregnancy moment. I’m like 6-ish months along right now and everything looks good. It’s a girl. I’m sure the intended parents are “over the moon” (the customary and apparently only permitted phrase used to indicate happiness or excitement in the surrogate world), but it’s hard to know their specific moon proximity from emails that come every twenty days or so. They’re very busy people. And probably guarded about getting too close, which is fine, and totally understandable, but…it is odd going through a pregnancy with zero excitement. I’m excited on principle—that the pregnancy is going well and all—but obviously there isn’t the anticipation of bringing home a baby or anything. And since I don’t talk on the phone with the parents, there’s not really anyone to squeal excitedly with.

The parents are coming out here next month to attend an ultrasound, have the hospital tour and discuss our birth plan. I’m totally nervous about it because we haven’t seen them since LAST summer when we first met them, and that was in a supervised environment, like having a chaperone on a date. So that will be nice and awkward.

I’m watching Brother Bear 2 right now. Just put the kids down for nap and here I am, still watching the movie. I want to know if Kenai’s girlfriend is gonna turn into a bear, of course. Kids are surprisingly quiet for two little people who were still quite energetic a few minutes ago. It is so freaking windy outside, shaking the house with its fall-y-ness. I just had a bowl of cereal (my third since last night’s midnight breakfast of champions, aka Wheaties). Baby girl is kicking. I want to take a nap, but also need a shower, but also need to work on my painting…I don’t bother throwing exercise in the suggested pile of activities at this point. Same story different day.

I started the first in a series of pregnancy-related body image paintings last month but lost my momentum after I finished the underpainting, as I often do. I want to get one done each month, but self-imposed deadlines are way too easy to ignore. Plus there’s a few Christmas doggie portrait commissions on the horizon, and the nakey exhibit isn’t until next fall. 

At least I can stick it to the little boy about actually making art now. Sort of. 

A little while back, Dirt asked me what a studio was. I told him it was a place where creative people make things: music, art, movies, etc. He then asked, “Are we creative people?” I told him yes. Something to the effect of “You are very smart, imaginative, creative people. You are such good artists too, with your drawing and painting!” Without skipping a beat, he said “You’re not.” A tad taken aback, I asked him why he would say that, and he replied, matter-of-factly, “Well, Mom, you just never draw.” POW! Way to call me out on never doing art, son. But now he has to deal with my nude drawings, even though he told me I need to put a bra on them.

The end of this movie is totally making me cry. Not sure if I can blame it on preggy hormones, but that’s what I’m going with anyway. I called it, by the way. Girlfriend is turning into a bear. Also, I was wrong about at least one kid actually being asleep; Dirt just emerged, naked, eagerly asking me to check out his recent potty deposit. “Is that a huge pile?” (If you must know, the answer was yes.)

Do you know one frustrating way to spend an hour? Trying to take a nap with a little boy who says he just wants to cuddle but then is all wiggly and chatty and when you get stern with him and try to send him back to his room he runs off crying and says you hurt his feelings cuz he just loves you and wants to snuggle you so you end up feeling like a big ol’ meanie and got no actual nap at all. And the pointy-nosed dog keeps poking you with his pointy wet nose cuz he’s needy and shooing him away makes you feel even more like a big ol’ meanie.

Sooooo the husband is on a week-long hunting trip and I’m left to fend for us alone, keeping the kids, dogs, and horses fed. For the human variety, I stocked up on frozen dinners and mac’n’cheese (and cereal, as usual). I am enjoying the fact that the house stays fairly clean in his absence, but I am bored, and feel even more boring than usual in terms of hanging out with the kids. All I can say is, I’d better get a freezer full of delicious elk meat after being abandoned with all the beasts while 6 months pregnant.

“In other news” (as I’m prone to say), I swapped out one part-time art job for another in recent months. The great little local studio where I was working closed because the rural folk couldn’t appreciate its awesomeness, and sadly, the owner couldn’t garner enough business to stay open. So, now I’m working a little closer to Denver teaching painting classes to non-artist boozers. Kidding. But not really. It’s one of those “paint and sip” studios. They also have clay and glass art classes, as well as a whole separate area for kid stuff. It’s a super cool place too, and although the paintings are often overly simplistic and I get tired of reassuring patrons that they’re doing well, the people I work with are great and it’s really pretty fun. After I got over the awkward performance factor and learned how not to fall off the little stage, of course. (Don’t worry, B, surely I’m still plenty awkward to those who know me. Especially when I have to use the silly little microphone.) 

Although I loved the quiet solitude and private lesson setup at the other studio, the more social aspect of this job is excellent—especially considering the lack of adult interaction a prairie-dwelling stay-at-home mom typically gets. And once I’m done being pregnant I can even enjoy a beer while working, which I look forward to. More than you know. 

Speaking of pregnant (yes we’re back to that…see how outstanding my organization is?), you know what I hate? People telling me “You don’t even look pregnant!” I suppose they see it as a compliment of sorts, but seriously. That just means I look fat normally. If this belly does not even look pregnant, then that sucks for me. Cuz it’s plenty round. 

I actually got maternity pants this time around and I have no idea how I got by without them in my other two pregnancies. Really low-waisted and/or unbuttoned pants all the time?? I remember purchasing a single pair of pants at Motherhood (maternity store), and never ever wearing them cuz they were atrocious. Instead of the “full/extended panel” coverage I am currently so fond of, I couldn’t commit and got the half belly type, which is just a wide elastic band at the top of normalish pants ("demi panel"), causing both muffin top and hip puffage. Like putting a rubber band around a marshmallow. But now I’m totally digging the kind that goes all the way up to your armpits. 

The other day I took all our old baby stuff to the consignment store, with sudden OCD flourish. Dooley was cleaning out the garage (after two failed attempts in the past few months, and now we can see the floor and walk through without hopping over an obstacle course of black widow-infested hurdles), which prompted me to drag all things baby out of the basement and whisk them immediately away. I couldn’t even take the time to list them on Craigslist or think for two seconds if we know anyone that wants them. They. Had. To. Go. Now. Thankfully handling it that way didn’t allow for too much sentimentality, but it is a little bittersweet. I think I’ve accepted that two kids is more than I can handle anyway, and I’m anxious to see what I can do with myself once these guys are in school. 

[Incidentally, Dirt started part-time preschool, which he says he hates, but you can’t trust a four-year-old. I just hate having to get up in the morning to take him there. He is equally bad at mornings, and it’s really hard to motivate for something that no one likes. Allegedly. And it’s stupidly only three hours long. He can write his name now, though it doesn’t seem like he’s taking advantage of the socialization factor like we thought he would; in fact, our loud, crazy boy apparently turns into the shyest thing that ever was when he’s at school. Weeeiiirrrrd.]

Anyway, I wondered to myself, as I hauled in the bouncer and changing table and high chair, if the consignment clerks were wondering to themselves why a pregnant person would purge her baby items. Then I thought they probably think that I “don’t even look pregnant”. Those jerks. 

Now excuse me while I go outside and attempt to throw a pile of hay over a fence as tall as me in the cold hurricaney wind and get tons of itchy bits in my bra, then come back inside to clean up poo that has a stench so powerful it is filling the house but I don't want to open the windows because it's cold and windy.

New Year New Me: Pony Progress

Today I thought I’d mix up my morning “internesting” ritual (coffee and computer time, usually comfortably nested on the couch); I brought ...