The Pause

This one is primarily for the ladies, advance apologies to my male friends…

I had allotted this time for yoga and sitting in front of my new LED anti-aging light that I spent 275 bucks on, but the urge to write is stronger. It’s time I come clean about what is going on with me in 2014, an act which I have resisted out of fear. But I pride myself on my honesty and believe that one of my purposes in this lifetime is to share the things that I have learned, so let’s just get on with it.

Side-note: this is the light. I had to sell the Nuface I told you about before, because my skin is very sensitive and the electric current was causing me to break out in hives. Zoe and I have a fabulous dermatologist friend (Dr. William Gael–he rocks!) who we torture constantly for beauty assistance, and he has a light and says it works. So I bought this one:

Drew rolls his eyes when I put on my pink goggles and go in. I will keep you posted on whether it works or not. I can feel a tingling sometimes when I use it, but the jury is out right now.

Some months ago I started having hot flashes. I refused to believe it was happening, but things got increasingly worse until I could no longer deny the reality. I couldn’t sleep well because I was waking up over and over in a burning state, having to throw the covers off and the windows open. And then I got all emotional, distant and bitchy with Drew for no reason. I still tried to pretend that everything was normal, until he finally had had enough, and God bless him, sat me down and asked me what was going on even though he knew exactly what was going on. I burst into tears and said it out loud, the dreaded, hateful words:

 “I think I’m in the middle of menopause.” He replied with a slightly longer version of “Well, duh.”

Since then things have been better, at least between us. He is a stellar, kind, patient person and now jokes that he is a victim of “The Pause”. I am working to be more conscious of how I treat him as my hormones rage in and out of control. I have never been a gentle person, except to animals, and it seems that one of Drew’s jobs in this lifetime is to teach me how to be less harsh with the people around me.

But it felt like more than that. All of the normal herbs and bullshit that you are advised to take for this bizarre time in life, which is not unlike puberty in many ways, were not helping me. Hot, cold, hot, cold, hot, cold, weepy, angry, terrified. The Pause is not sexy. I have spent a lifetime cultivating an identity that revolves around sexy. If I am old, which is not a valuable state for women in our culture, who am I? If I am not physically desirable, how can I be loveable? From where will I derive power if my primary power is gone? And on a basic, material level, I am working in service again, how long can I keep that up if I look old behind the bar? And how will I keep my man, who, is younger than me and because it’s a goddamn man’s world, still gets hit on by nubile, much-more-willing-to-be-accommodating 20-somethings?

Gah!!! The mind reels! More voddy, Darling?

Excruciating. But pretending that you are who you are not is not a good look for anyone. People who desperately try to pretend they are younger than they are become undignified and laughable.

I am aware that this is a process that nearly every woman experiences if she is lucky enough to live to an old age, and that it has its own rewards. Deep down I also know that regardless, I am vital and beautiful and will remain so in various forms until I die. But I am resistant, so resistant to change that my body has had to ratchet up the uncomfortability level in order to force me to pay attention.

I finally asked my mother for a reading. I don’t publish much of her information here because she prefers that those who are ready come to it on their own, and there is a real fear that those who aren’t ready will not receive it well. But I think that in this case it is valuable information for more than just me. This is what she got:

Her energy is shifting and much of what she is experiencing has to do with this rather than with menopause. She is somewhat in resistance to change as she identifies and honors herself with an image, much of it from the past. The new energy is trying to move in and she is hold tightly to the old causing her to be out of sync. She needs to rest more, center more, and actually live the truth that she knows…quiet the mind. (They are talking about rest as laying down quietly or meditating, not considering rest to be playing video games or watching TV). [Ed. note: But I just renewed my XBox gold subscription!]

She needs to clear her energy field when working and after coming home.  She  brings a lot of heavy energy home with her.  This can be avoided by keeping her energy field clear and filled with light while working through conscious intention and visualization.

There are many changes coming for her soon on all levels. The energy is changing and resistance to the new is causing a physical response. She must try and be open to any new ideas that may come that don’t fit into her concept of who and what she is. She needs to begin to love herself for who she really is (Divine Being having a human experience) and let go of the belief that she is only loveable if she fits a certain image she is holding of herself.  

Her heart center is opening to new levels and she will begin to experience love for others on a new level…more on a global level.

Herbal teas and products like this can help the symptoms she is experiencing but it is mostly due to resistance to change and a letting go of the past. 
  
Be open to change dear one, do what you do but from a new level of awareness. Take the day to day experiences and begin to see them from a higher standpoint for there is in reality, nothing that is not in and of the Divine…it is only how it is interpreted that makes it what it is. You are loved greatly dear one and have much to offer. Allow this to flow easily and gently out to others while not allowing yourself to be validated by anything, anyone, or anything from the present or past.

She does not need to become a new personality, just an awake one. She has earned skills that make her a powerful light worker, and knowing and living truth does not mean a person becomes a wuss or doormat.  It is being who you are, doing what needs to be done, but with awareness.

So poop. Is the work never done? Every time I get over one bullshit scenario, a new one roars into view. I’m so sick of it. Life is so hard!

Apparently the education continues, whether welcome or not. At times I feel as if I am in the middle of mourning some nebulous something, which I guess I am. But I know that you can’t get new stuff until you Spring clean out the old stuff. And I like getting stuff. I am resistant to talking about it with anyone out of mortification, yet it feels imperative to shed something, to get free. So against all panic to the contrary, I’ve just outed myself online.

I will try to inform on progress if I don’t freak out and take this post down in an hour. In the meantime, send Drew your prayers.

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Beauty in the Hood

I frigging love my current nail salon, so much so that I’ve been meaning to blog about it for weeks, but I’ve been so busy with work that I haven’t had time. My job at PF, although I put in notice, doesn’t seem to be coming to an end. I think my bosses have opted to pretend that I didn’t quit. My new job, which is a return to one day of bartending at Bowery Electric, has more fun that I expected. My friend Tim Greer is DJ-ing and running movies for me and I get to see friends more regularly, but it still takes another day out of my schedule. And then Zoe and I did our show, which was well-received and also fun, but draining. So essentially my plan of making more time to write is currently taking it’s sweet-ass time to manifest.

Okay…ANYWAY…fingernails. Nail salons in my hood have become increasingly expensive and the girls working in them less versed in anything other than the most rudimentary of manicures. I was having trouble and spending too much money, and my lovely friend Ms. Codie Ravioli recommended her salon on Avenue D.

For those of you who don’t live in New York, Avenue D is hardcore. It’s not dangerous anymore, but it is home of the Projects and there are no white girls like myself walking up and down the Avenue. It is populated by inner city, working class Hispanic and black people and their numerous children. Most everyone communicates in Spanish.

So I trotted over there and found a magical land in which Christmas decorations stay up all year round:

This is one half of the room, the other half is exactly the same size, with giant, semi-destroyed, brown massage pedicure chairs. It’s tiny, and everything is covered in fingernail dust. It looks much cleaner in this photo than it should. All of the Korean ladies working here address the women, including myself, as “Mami”.

Everyone talks over one another in a shout, it’s very chaotic, and I fell in love as soon as I entered because I was seated on a pedicure chair next to a woman who looked very much like this:
Except that my girl was about 60 lbs heavier, her hair was flaming red, and her lips were equally dramatically outlined with Chola lipliner. She had a constant look of outlined surprise. Her feet were so big I couldn’t stop looking at them. I tried to guess the shoe size. 11? 12? 13?? She was there for the pedicure and a dubious sounding service in which they glue eyelashes onto you so well that they last for days and days. Gorgeous!
Because we are all packed in like sardines either waiting for or getting services, and because of the friendly, community nature of the neighborhood, everyone chats loudly with everyone and their children run rampant, which would ordinarily annoy me, but in this setting is simply more entertainment. No one reads, no one talks on their cell for long, they just all shout at each other about their relationships, their kids, their fingernails. 
Not five minutes into my pedicure, a woman standing near tells me she’s wearing a colostomy bag and pees out of her belly-button. Now I’m really in heaven. I gleefully texted Codie immediately. “COLOSTOMY BAG. JACKPOT!”
Clearly the woman was open to talking about about it, so I asked her what happened. She told me that she went in to the hospital 12 years ago for a C-section and they cut too far into her and destroyed her insides in a way that left her thus debilitated. She had had numerous surgeries to correct the problem, to no avail. She lifted her shirt to show me her stomach, which was distended and criss-crossed with scars. She was going into the hospital in a few days for another operative attempt at repair.

Then she said, “I’m not happy with my pedicure. They have to fix the design.” Everyone in there except for me had elaborate, multicolor designs planned for their toes. She said, “I don’t have a man, but I have pretty toes and I want to show them off.” And my John Waters delight for the grotesquerie of the situation faded a bit. How incredibly tragic it must be to go into the hospital to simply have your baby and exit with your body destroyed? She was open and kind and I wondered if I would have the same attitude in her place.

The lady in red left my side and was replaced by an older woman with a blonde buzz cut and the longest toenails I’ve seen in some time. They were thick and yellow and hoof-like and I shuddered with pity for the poor pedicure girl, her masked face inches from the toes as she dug underneath them with a metal tool. The woman mumbled at the girl about not cleaning them properly and then shouted to the salon manager in a thick accent, “Can ju tell her to clean underneath? She’s not doing that.” The manager got up and shouted something in Korean to the girl, who doubled the digging effort.

“Ai!” The woman said to me. “She dossent clean and den I get a fungus. And she dossent speak our languish so I can’t tell her!” I said, gently hinting that a simple trim might be in order, “Well, your toenails are very long. Don’t they hurt when they’re pressed up against your shoes?” She told me no, and then bitched out the girl for the polish design, which was not zebra-ey enough for her liking. She wasn’t mean, but determined to get satisfaction. The manager came over and quickly swiped glitter and polish on the toes until they were a work of creepily too-long toenail art. 

I fucking love my new nail salon.

The next week I tried to get some surreptitious film of the place while I was sitting next to a woman with enormous, swollen legs that were criss-crossed with blue veins. She said, “Oh, honey, don’t film my legs. They aren’t pretty.” I felt bad and put the phone down. I asked, “What’s going on with your legs?” and she told me that she was born with crooked legs and spent much of her life in a wheelchair because her family didn’t have the money to get them repaired properly when she was young. Recently she had an operation which allowed her to walk, although it took a long time and a lot of rehabilitation work. She said, “I did not want to spend my life in a wheelchair, so I’m proud that I can walk on these legs now, even if they don’t look so good.”

As we talked a woman with three kids, one a toddler on her lap, sat getting large chunks of silver glitter applied to her long fingernails. She said, “Hang on! I don’t want the baby breathing these chemicals!” She put the pretty little girl down, and the baby stood next to the table, mouth and nose level with the situation, waving her bottle of juice. The grandmother, who had been advising a woman whose boyfriend had just been caught cheating on her, shouted from across the room, “Chanel! Dat baby is still breathing dat shit!” The young mother gently pushed the baby and she toddled off to stop three feet away. The tiny salon hasn’t been wiped down in years, it’s coated in chemicals, but I found the gesture sweet nonetheless. 

And thus, beyond the magic of chola eyebrows and colostomy bags, I understood something new and saw these exotic creatures as people rather than mere entertainment. I come from a privileged, white, upper-middle class background. As much as I have lived a rock and roll life, I am a snob in many ways. I entered this tiny land feeling other, possibly superior, and left slightly more humbled and educated.

Most of the women frequenting the tiny salon come from an low income background and live a blue-collar, very urban life. They don’t have control over a lot of things. They don’t have control over doctors, who fuck them up during childbirth, or who charge too much to fix crooked legs. They have children at a young age and don’t have a nanny to watch the kids while they get their nails done. In the case of Big Chola Red, they don’t appear to have control over their eating habits. But they do have control over their fingernails. They can come to this tiny place, shoot the shit with each other, get and give advice, forget about their troubles for a short while, and walk out with art on their toes and fingers. Who am I to judge the high drama of their artistic fingernail and eyebrow choices?
So now I am simply grateful that I can go visit them any time I want and forget about my own confusions as they welcome me as one of their own. I am happy to put the phone away, park myself in a beat up chair, and enjoy the connection. I am still going to try to film the action, as it should be shared, but I’ll have to wait until the proper time.

Have a Sandwich, It’s the Law!

Some things have happened recently in Europe that I believe bear some scrutiny:
First, earlier in the year a 22 year-old model from South America named Luisel Ramos dropped dead of a heart attack immediately after stepping off of the runway. As a reaction to this, the government in Madrid, Spain imposed regulations during their summer fashion week.
The Spanish powers-that-be restricted models from the runway with a BMI (body mass index) score lower than 18. In other words, a 5′ 7″ model could not weigh less than 115 pounds. This turned away 30 percent of the models from the event. According to reports directors and designers were outraged and claimed that this discriminated against “gazelle-like” models. I am sure this is true, there are certainly some long and lean models who fall underneath that level naturally, but there are probably not as many out there as we are led to believe.
Second, a lovely Brazilian girl named Ana Carolina Reston, who modeled in China, Turkey, Mexico and Japan, died Nov. 14 at a hospital in Sao Paulo. The 5′ 8″ model weighed 88 pounds at the time of her death. Her friends and family were reported as stating that she was ambitious and got more work when she was underweight, and that over time the dieting escalated into anorexia.
Hmm…maybe there is a problem, girlfriend…At least that’s what Italy decided. My mother sent me a link to this piece in MSN news yesterday:
Italy was once famed for the sultry, full-bodied beauties it contributed to the international scene. A month after the death of an anorexic Brazilian model, the Italian government teamed up with the fashion industry Friday to promote a “healthy, sunny, generous, Mediterranean model of beauty.”
The self-regulatory code of conduct aims to fight anorexia among women and the vogue for stick-thin models. It requires models to show medical proof they do not suffer from eating disorders, bans models younger than 16 and calls for a commitment to add larger sizes to fashion collections.
“There’s a line between a thin girl and a sick one that is often crossed. Italy, with this manifesto, is committed to recognize this boundary and not cross it,” Youth Policy and Sports Minister Giovanna Melandri told reporters.
The code was signed by Melandri and Mario Boselli, president of the Italian Fashion Chamber, which includes fashion houses like Versace, Prada and Missoni. It is aimed at designers, model agencies, makeup artists and others who work in fashion.
Boselli said he hoped the code could be adopted internationally.
Stefano Dominella, president of a lobby for Rome haute couture who also signed on to the code, said designers who do not comply will be subjected to sanctions, such as being assigned to less favorable times or days for their shows.
Well, crack open the Dom, baby!
As most of you know I work in fashion, albeit on the wacky fringe. I will tell you from personal experience that most of the fashion faggots I know and love will skin your dog, wrap its still warm and bloody pelt around foetus bones, dip it in non bio-degradable styrofoam and toss the mess down the runway like a bowling ball if it’s in fashion this season. Not all, mind you, there are some wonderful exceptions (Project Runway’s Tim Gunn for one), but most. The thread of ignorance and selfishness that runs through the fashion industry is chilling.
I made up my mind a few years ago not to read fashion magazines because they made me feel shitty about myself. I don’t look like the girls in the photos and I can’t afford their lifestyles, or at least the lifestyles they’re paid to project. Recently I’ve been able to lift the ban because I need to pay attention to trends to do my job properly, plus I’m simply in better place than I used to be. I try to approach each photo as something pretty to look at rather than a mirror of my flaws or a list of items I want but can’t afford. I love fashion, I love clothing, I love shoes, and I want to be able to enjoy their beauty without turning it into yet another way to feel badly about myself. So each time I open the pages I feel like it’s a conscious exercise to step out of the collective beauty consciousness. The beauty/fashion industry is COMMERCIAL HYPNOSIS and we all would do well to stop staring at the swinging pendulum.
Years ago women like Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren were the standard of beauty and they had the scaffolding underwear and dresses to back their bodacious shit up. I worship those women and watch their movies over and over again. They were/are so beautiful and had/have a body type that does not entail outlandish genetics or starvation to achieve. Have you seen Liz in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? She’s big! I can do that! My friends can do that! But I am not always evolved enough to apply that information to my own thoughts about my body as I stand in front of the mirror of a dressing room in 2006. I spend all kinds of time with beautiful, transcendent, and yes, skinny friends, pinching pieces of our bodies and discussing how fat must be eliminated. We are actually in decent shape and we aren’t stupid. We know Liz was hot. We know in our brains that heterosexual men like curves. But we are not immune to the constant funnel of information that enters our system on a day-to-day basis and no matter what your thinking brain understands, the collective brain, the emotions and the gut will always override.
Simply put, even smart girls buy into the bullshit. And what we’re buying pays those models to get as skinny as they can by whatever means necessary.
So fuck it, if someone in Italy or Spain wants to pass a law that says you have to weigh at least 115 pounds to model, I have absolutely no problem with that. I don’t give a shit if it seems like too much legislation to some, or if it excludes naturally “gazelle-like” women from certain runways. It may not be a perfect solution but at least it’s an attempt at some kind of solution. We are all beautiful, and we are all suffering in different ways, men and women. We must crawl out from underneath the tyranny of outdated rules that weigh our spirits down. And if that means having some government official holding a pair of calipers at the backstage door of a fashion show, I have absolutely no problem with that.
P.S. Merry Christmas, you fat motherfuckers and curvy love goddesses. =)


The Evolution of Beauty

Wanna know why looking at fashion magazines makes you feel like a piece of shit? Here’s an illustration that my good friend Dina sent to me this morning. I don’t think this is even as drastic as it can be sometimes, but it definitely makes the point and it’s something all women (and men, come to think of it) should know about. The business of beauty is a business, with all that that implies, and it takes no prisoners.
As for the website, I haven’t checked it out yet, but I intend to do so as soon as I get done posting this video:

On Beauty One More Time

After writing that first blog on beauty I was overwhelmed by the messages I got and have been meaning to post a follow-up since then…

I was very surprised that pretty much everyone who had something to say feels or has felt essentially the same way. We have all, even the most physically beautiful of the people I heard from, felt less than, humiliated, hurt or just unworthy at certain times because we didn’t feel attractive enough. Isn’t that crazy?? Especially when I think of how many gorgeous people I know.

I was horribly sick recently and it really put things into perspective as well. It was the worst flu I have had in a long time, with a sore throat so bad that swallowing brought tears to my eyes and made my ears ache. I was only able to crawl from the bed to the couch and back again for four days, completely weak and totally uncomfortable. It was misery! So this made me think about how lucky I am to be the healthy person that I usually am.

All of this beauty stuff is completely moot when your health isn’t there and I am going to try to give my body a little more love for being strong and carrying me every day instead of constantly examining it for flaws. I get so focused on the little stupid things at times that I forget to look at the big picture. Millions of people have bodies that are uncomfortable to be in or don’t work properly, or they have lost their families to genocide, or live in abject poverty. I am healthy and relatively affluent compared to much of the world. What right do I have to fester over minor details?

And then I read the most amazing quote by a life coach named Martha Beck: “The longing to be beautiful is fundamentally a longing to be free from shame.” How brilliant is THAT? And the other quote I loved is from James, who says that if you REALLY look at someone, you realize everyone is beautiful.

If you follow that first train of thought, then, what we really need to strive for instead of beauty, is shamelessness. When we’re really young we don’t have the filter to accept or reject what people say to and about us, we just accept it all and suffer the pain of that rejection.

But we are adults now, and have a choice. We can choose to surround ourselves with people who support us and then we can be shameless about who we are, and shameless about admitting our fears and insecurities. I am noticing that it is extremely freeing to just be honest about my own neuroses and sorrows, because the people in my life respond in kind. And then instead of feeling shitty about myself I get to feel happily connected to someone else. And isn’t that the whole point of being in these bodies anyway?

As for the second train of thought, I did a little experiment with myself and spent a day looking for beauty in every person I passed on the street. This is not an easy experiment for a misanthrope like myself, but it was really interesting, and I suggest you try it. I tried to be objective and look at humans the way I do dogs, because to me every dog I see on the street is gorgeous, no matter how ratty or fat or mongrel.

And it worked—I started to see that every single person had something, at least one thing, beautiful about them. Then after a short time of doing that I started feeling very open and happy, instead of the usual hating everyone and wondering if they got dressed in the dark. When you really look at people as individuals you stop comparing each person to the ridiculous standards we have come to accept as real and just see the interesting and lovely in each person’s face.

Those magazine standards just aren’t real and I don’t want to hang onto them anymore. There is a biological breeding imperative which naturally leans towards the symmetrical, but other than that, all that other stuff we take as truth because we see it in the media is just commercial sales. It’s airbrushing and some person that I don’t know or care about deciding that thin and tall or very, very young is the only kind of physicality that deserves love. So then we feel ashamed and unworthy because we don’t fit that mold, and we buy all sorts of products to try to get closer to that ideal.

And I’ll probably always buy the damn products because I know I’m just one moisturizer away from a perfect life, but I really, really want to stop buying the bullshit. It only supports a tiny fraction of the world population, and it definitely doesn’t support me or you in any kind of honest or loving way. It doesn’t even support the girls photographed with the products, really.

So I got a very freeing lesson with that last blog, I came clean about something fairly minor and got interesting information and some deep human connection in return. So I am all about being truthful these days. Truth equals beauty, forgiveness equals beauty, an open heart brings us beauty. And I know this entry is a little corny but I wanted to tell you that, and to tell you how grateful I am for everything you guys had to say on the subject.