Tuesday, January 21, 2020

She turns herself 'round and she smiles and she says "This is it, that's the end of the joke"

As it turns out, I've spent much of my life growing out my hair.

I mean, obviously I'm living my life forward while the hair growing is just happening, but it's this annoying cycle where I grow it and then I think I just really need a change and cut it all of and often dye it as well and then spend the next year or two growing it out again.

I have had a bob, on and off, since I think the end of 10th grade.

Some people live their whole lives just having nice hair and living with it day to day and not fucking with it on a regular basis and perhaps you are one of those people, and why can't I be you?

At any rate, the growing it out is tedious and grim and I never know what to do with it to make it look cute in the in between times. And as Fleabag said, "HAIR IS EVERYTHING. ANTONY."

As such, I decided I needed something fun to make it feel less tedious and grim.

I also decided last time was the LAST time I'm lopping it all off, so I might as well take advantage of the short short and do something extreme.

So I bought a tube of Joico semi-permanent magenta dye, which a woman at the gym who has lovely purple streaks recommended.

And then I asked Nick if he would put it on for me.

I showed him some YouTube videos of people applying hair dye with a dye brush.

Because I like to have ideas but then fall down on the planning, I had to borrow a dye brush from a friend, because I couldn't find one for purchase without buying a box of dye.

Additionally, the only gloves we had that Nick could even squeeze his giant baseball-mitt sized hands into were dish gloves that as it turned out practically cut off his circulation.
Then yesterday morning I wondered if the color I'd chosen might be too strong, and Nick was all, "If you're going to do this, you might as well be really bold."

So then I asked him if he thought maybe he could just do the roots magenta, so my hair looked like it had dark pink roots and then the ends were white.

And he was like, "Uh, I don't think I have that level of skill."

So he put it on and when I voiced concern that he might not be getting it all he very firmly reminded me that he is rather detail oriented.

And this is true. RATHER. DETAIL. ORIENTED.

I learned years ago that any man I would ever love would be detail oriented and that detail oriented people do not like being called anal retentive.

So I tried to just keep my mouth shut and then India took a picture of me so I could have some idea what it looked like. And then I washed it and was like holy cow is that, uh, bold!

I am not going to lie; I was wondering if I'd made a mistake in color and taken on more than I can carry off.

Although the fact is that with each wash more will come out. I don't know if it will get stuck in the bleached parts or not, but they'll have to be cut off eventually anyway.

India was like, "I love it so much, Mama. You look like Mal."

This warmed my heart. She loves Descendants.

But every time I catch my reflection in the mirror I'm a little surprised.

In any case, this morning I went to a core class. I love the instructor, who makes us do terrible, terrible things. It's amazing.

This is the class where I met the woman with the purple streaks. When I first asked her about the purple in her hair, she showed me a photo of her hair when she'd gotten it professionally done all pink and platinum and it was fabulous. (It had also taken 12 hours and cost $900, which made her sit down and cry. Or maybe she was already sitting. Anyway.)

I was stretching and chatting with another woman at the end of class and she told me she loved my hair, and the instructor agreed. I thanked them and said I was still getting used to it.

I said, "My husband did it for me yesterday!"

One of them said, "Wow! Is he a hairdresser?"

And I was all, "No, a lawyer. Very detail oriented."

Yah, so I might order some XL gloves and some purple dye and maybe next time he can just do the roots?

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Cheese in the Bahamas with you...

Growing up, we didn't have family living nearby. We'd see them for a week or two in the summer time. And me, I have so little family as it is.

So our overseas friends became family. They were who we celebrated holidays and birthdays with, who we turned to for support, who we called in emergencies.

You already know Jane, Jane who was in my wedding and took credit for telling me to marry the man with the boat.

You don't know Sarah, but you might meet her sometime when she breezes through town. She lives in Cape Town and has been absolutely everywhere, and every once in a while I get a text asking if she can stay with us (of course) and she's on a bus down from NYC that very moment.

She's come to stay when I've been gone, and friends of mine have dropped in and had tea with her and then when I come home they're all best friends already.

Everyone loves Sarah. People who've met her once reminisce about times with Sarah.

We've known their family since the 80s in Delhi. Candy and my mom became instant friends. I have vivid memories of them giggling in the living room.

Jane and I lived together in San Diego. I'd only been driving a year when she arrived, and she said every since she gives directions like, "In one mile, you're going to need to be in the right lane..."

The photo above is of Jon and my dad at the Pushkar Camel Fair.


I don't know how it is now, because it seems like you can get everything everywhere, but when we were growing up, every time someone returned from the US or Europe, they were always laden with things you couldn't get in whatever country we lived in.

Peanut butter, deodorant, face cream. I think the weirdest thing my dad ever asked for was a tennis ball shooter machine. Or maybe car tires.

In any case, I grew up used to taking requests and carting weird and heavy things. It was just what you did for friends.

The beginning of January, Betty and I spent a few days visiting friends on a tiny, glorious little island in the Bahamas.

Was it as magical as it sounds? It was.

They live in South Africa, so when they said they'd be in the Bahamas for a bit, we jumped on the chance to visit them much closer to home.

We bought tickets last minute. I organized after school care for the kids. My friend Andrea, who happened to be in town and who I'd just had coffee with, offered to walk Wanda.

I asked Sarah if there was anything we could bring. Because I'd heard the stories of the things they cart to Spanish Wells when they go. Everything has to be brought by ship, so it's very expensive, and brands are limited.

Their only request was walnuts, cheese, and nice crackers.

By now it was Thursday night.  We were leaving for the airport at 5:00 the next morning. We searched the house.

Walnuts, we had. And a nice Manchego, almost two pounds. But no other cheese! And no lovely crackers!

I was home fixing the kids dinner, so Betty immediately headed out to the shops around the corner. The one that would definitely have the nicest cheese was closed. But she managed a brie and a couple blocks of cheddar and scads of crackers.

Lest a cheese enthusiast decide to snack on one, I put them all in a ziploc bag in the fridge with a note that said: TAKING TO BAHAMAS. DO NOT OPEN.

Nick came home during dinner and opened the fridge. He saw the sign. And then he said, "Are you allowed to take cheese to the Bahamas?"

Allowed to take cheese? What kind of question was that?

He looked it up and said, "No dairy products."

I said, "Cheese isn't really dairy dairy. It's packaged."

"Lisa. You could get in trouble. What if you wind up in Bahamian jail?"

"We'll just pretend we had a snack for the plane and forgot to take it out."

"You've got like 5 pounds."

My mom said, "It'll be fine."

So I messaged Sarah and told her Nick was nervous and she said to tell him it would be fine. So I told him it would be fine but he remained unconvinced.

I think of Nick as much bolder than me, but he's also a lawyer and gets all liability focused and rulesy which is often very helpful like when I was trying to pick a fight with the police but then other times seems more like a nuisance.


We arrived. Nobody asked anything.

We got in a van that drove us to the water, whereupon the driver pulled all the bags out of the van and loaded them onto his boat and off we went.

As we neared the dock at Spanish Wells, people in the boat started pointing and asking what was going on.
Because keeping pace with the boat were two golf carts full of people waving enthusiastically and tirelessly.

At us! Our friends were waving at us!

We laughed and waved and waved, all the way to shore.

As it turns out, there are cars but people mainly get around by golf cart, so we rented a golf cart. It was great fun, once I got past my twitchiness about a) driving a golf cart and b) driving on the left side.

We did almost lurch into the side of the house one day when I forgot to put it in reverse.
But we didn't!

The visit was perfect. I wished I could stay a month.

We went for walks in the soft, soft sand. We watched a sea star scootch along the bottom.
Candy read us her poetry. Candy and Betty hugged and giggled like old times.

Jane and her son and I went exploring and wound up at an outdoor beach bar, where they played in the hammock and tossed coconuts and we enjoyed cocktails with our toes in the sand.
I was going to put this photo on FB and Jane said to caption it, "It's not better in the Bahamas." And to add the hashtag "big lie".

Since I don't tend to hashtag my FB photos, I wrote out the word "hashtag" instead of using a #. Later Jane very sweetly said, "Um, Lis, I don't know if you know about hashtags, but you use the # rather than the word..."

Then Sarah accused Jane of using dumb hashtags.

Hashtag verycontentioussubject

And then, just like that, it was time to go.

Three days is not so long, after all.
And no matter how many days, time is always too short with people you love.

We had a grand goodbye at the dock, and their golf carts followed the boat and waved and waved. We giggled through tears.
Coincidentally, the woman sitting next to us in the boat was also named Lisa. The sweetness of the goodbye brought her to tears as well.

And then my mom asked her if she was a Democrat.

Why, Betty, why? Hashtag why?

The kids sure were glad to have us back.

Nick has been calling us cheese mules ever since.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

A decade in review

January 2010
I don't remember being ready to embrace 2010, but I remember when 2009 ended, I was well and ready to see it go.

I didn't think about it at the time as the end of a decade, but perhaps more the end of an era.

2009 was the year of my dad's seventh and fatal suicide attempt. Some people asked if it was a relief, to finally stop being vigilant after years of constant worry.

It was not a relief.

2009 was the year we bought our house, had a baby, and immediately thereafter started construction while living in aforementioned house.

People complimented me on losing the baby weight fast, and here is what I will tell you: I lost my baby weight fast because I had a C-section and I couldn't do stairs, and we had no kitchen on the ground floor, and Nick worked all the time, and my mom was pretty occupied with grief. So nobody fed me.

Nick would come home from work at 9:00 or 10:00 pm and ask what I'd had for dinner and I think that's about the time I started joking about stabbing him.

(I don't really joke about it with him around anymore because he finds it offensive.)

My friend Kathy asked if I needed anything and I asked her for a stash of protein bars. I put them in my bedside table and that's what I'd eat.

Leading up to Christmas, Nick proposed a fake tree, but I wanted a real tree. And then Nick asked who was going to water it and vacuum up the branches and I was all, OK, let's get a fake one.

It was magical. It was already wrapped with lights. We just used it for the 10th time this Christmas. Half the lights died two years ago and the rest of them went last year, so we snipped them all off and now we string our own. But the tree is still lovely.

I remember Nick being so angry that when it was time to take down the tree, because neither my mother nor I took off the decorations.

When I first thought back on the past decade, I initially said it was dominated by having and raising children and renovating our house. 

However, once I read through this piece I realized that loss was an equally important, if not perhaps the prevailing theme.

By the beginning of 2010 I was being treated for post-partum depression, but I was, in retrospect, not adequately medicated and still barely hanging on. I probably should've also been in therapy. I look back at this video and I feel like it could be a depression commercial.

In early 2010 we had snowmaggeddon, where DC shut down for about two weeks. Our boiler gave out that first night and we were lucky that our friend Kurt, the manager of the guest house across the street, was at our house playing Scrabble with Betty when it happened. He brought over all their extra space heaters, and we kept the pipes from freezing.

I don't remember much about 2010 except that giant snow, and that Jordan was, thankfully, a good sleeper. He'd nurse and fall asleep and I would lie in bed silently fuming about my peacefully sleeping husband and thinking about how Nick and I would divide up the furniture.

If it sounds like I harbored a lot of animosity towards Nick in those early years, it's because I did.

Hate might be an extreme way to put it but you know I don't trust women who never admit to wanting to stab their husbands.

Life is not perfect. People are hard to live with. (I am hard to live with.)

I am even harder to live with while taking hormones, which was the fun thing we did in 2011, which led to the arrival of our delightful India in 2012.

Also in 2011, we sold Betty's house and she moved in with us shortly before India was born.

In the GW hospital exit class, I met Meg, a woman who would become one of my dearest friends. Our daughters were born the same day, and we spent our maternity leaves together nursing all around DC, and now we and they are lifelong friends.

We plan for them to take their gap years together somewhere fabulous that their mothers would like to come visit.

In 2013 we lost Nick's dad. India was a year old, and we rented a minivan to drive all of us all to New Jersey. India threw up repeatedly in the car, and we drove straight to the church. Nick's partner Scott arrived at the same time as us, and came over and opened the passenger door to the overwhelming smell of baby puke.

We'd all just gotten used to it over the hours and miles.

In 2014 we lost Auntie Lou, Maude's mama. We still use her recipes and tell funny stories and talk about how much we miss her.

In 2015 we took our progeny and my mother to Spain and I almost died of exhaustion.

In 2016, my cousin Travis passed away, and now I walk in his honor on my Overnight walks. And I wouldn't say this was a highlight, but on the way home from the memorial service, Betty and I both got puked on on an airplane.

In 2017 we lost three people we loved, and it was a year that walloped me. We lost dear Pat, my other mother. We lost John, a dear family friend, whose family I'd known since I was born. And we lost Kim, AKA Australian Builder who remodeled practically our entire house (you may remember him along with Hector Big Wood).

We also went to Family Camp at Winona for the first time, which was the camp experience I never had growing up. It was beautiful and fun and except for the lack of sleep from sleeping in a tent, pretty much perfect.

In 2018, Nick turned 50, and took the day off and took the kids for a helicopter ride. Ever since they've asked if they can play hooky.

I think of helicopters as certain death, and in any case, I'd gone back to office work. That summer I  took the kids to camp in Cartagena, Colombia, for two weeks by myself.

In September of 2018 we had our 10th wedding anniversary. We both agreed that if we could live together through everything we did our first year of marriage, we could stay married forever. There have been periods of time that have tested this notion, but on the whole, we ended 10 years way stronger than we began.

Also, and I am very proud of this, I got my first paid article published in the Washington Post's On Parenting section.

I'm going to say it here: I have a goal of getting three pieces into publications in 2020.

I did practically no writing the last couple years. This is the year I return to it.

And in 2019, the last year of this decade, I was reminded of the fact that whenever I decide to cut off all my hair, it means I'm in crisis. Even if I don't seem like it on the outside. Even if I'm all, oh, I just need a change.


Next time I'm like, I want a pixie! Just for fun! Please ask me if I need to review my medication (I did) and perhaps make a change (I did).

I don't know why existential crises and the shearing of hair are so closely linked for me, but they are. It's a follicular cry for help, perhaps.

Also, I turned 50 and went to India to commemorate the milestone birthday.

Anyway, I'll be growing out my platinum pixie in 2020.

I think Nick and I ended the decade with a much more solid relationship. Knock wood the big renovations are done, which is good because not only are they expensive, but they take an emotional toll.

And, in November, we got Wanda. We tried to change her name to Carmen (after Carmen San Diego) but we called her Wanda half the time and Carmen the other half and my mom just keeps calling her Gloria after our best dog ever. So we stuck with Wanda.

My goal was to get a calm dog, and she is an anxious piece of work. She's mostly over being scared of Nick, but alternates between adoring him and getting all shifty when he's around. She adores Betty and Jordan. She likes India but half the time India rushes at her and says things like "Booya booya booya!" which freaks a nervous girl the hell out.

But she's gentle and kind at heart, and that goes a long way.

That's my decade in review. I know I rarely blog anymore, and I appreciate those of you who are still with me.

I am constantly reminded that life takes a village. Happiness takes a village, because what matters more than people we love who love us?

Happy New Year, my friends. I'm wishing you all the best in 2020 and beyond.

So much love to you.