My doctor wouldn’t know a brain tumor if it was growing right out of my skull

Luckily I don’t have a lot of time. Because if I did, I would probably spend a good 4-5 days a week at the doctor’s office because God knows that I am a very sick person who just doesn’t have proof of it yet.  My company gave us a week off between Christmas and New Year’s so I seized the opportunity to make an appointment with my doctor.

I told them I wanted to come in so that the doctor would give me something for my skin so that I wouldn’t have zits all the time.  I think it’s a cruel, cruel world when a 35 year old woman has to endure big ass zits on her chin and jaw line all the time even while on the Pill that is supposed to help acne.  I’ve already written about all my major issues around this before, but it bears repeating that my hormones are fucked up and because of it my face is a hot mess.  And I’m SO done with it.  So I’m willing to try whatever it is he can give me to make this all stop. And stop now. And soon.

But between the time that I made that appointment and the time it actually took place, I have had multiple reasons to believe that I have a brain tumor in its earliest form.  Here is the evidence, and you tell me if this doesn’t SCREAM brain tumor:

1) I love Pitbull.

2) I was on a plane and all of a sudden my vision got all blurry and sparkly and I couldn’t read my Kindle because my eyes couldn’t focus right. After about 20 minutes it went away, but isn’t that totally, “WTF?” material?

3) When I exercise (I know! I have begun exercising for the first time since 2002 because I paid mas dinero for a Disney cruise in February and I will be forced to spend significant time in a bathing suit) my left ear feels all stuffed up and it feels like there is water in there. I hear buzzing and beeping in there too.

4) Sometimes I wake up with a headache. It usually goes away after a few minutes, but I’m not a headache type of person even if I did polish off 3 or 4 glasses of wine the night before, so it seems unusual.

5) I have started to spell things wrong. I’m just typing emails and I’ll spell words completely wrong that I would never do otherwise. So I mean, Whoa! That sucker must be getting large  if it is enough to impair my generally impeccable spelling. (Although I will admit I never spell knowlege right – I forget the damn ‘d’ in there all the time.)

So as you can see, when taken all together, those symptoms show irrefutable evidence of a stage IV brain tumor.

I decided that if I actually came out and told the doctor I wanted a brain MRI, he would probably resist me,  so I thought I would give him the incontrovertible evidence of the brain tumor that I have carefully cataloged above and it would be so obvious that the next step was to do a brain MRI just for the physical evidence of the tumor.  You know, people like ideas better when they think it is their idea, so I figured I could easily get him to this conclusion on his own.  I mean, it’s quite obvious to me and I don’t even have medical training.

So the day arrives and I have carefully rehearsed my whole list of symptoms so that the doctor will see the gravity of my current health situation.  This is how it went:

Doctor: So you’re here about your acne?

Love: Yes. Well, originally, I was and we need to discuss that, but I have other concerns now that I think I should talk to you about.

Doctor: Like?

Love: Well, I have begun to work out and when I do jumping jacks, my left ear feels like its all plugged up…

Doctore: Well, let’s have a look-see… *comes at me quickly with that light-up teepee instrument and puts it my ear* Everything looks clear.  Are you having trouble hearing?

Love: Well, sometimes my kids say stuff when we’re in the car and I can’t really hear them over the music I’m singing along to.  I just nod and pretend I do. But I have no idea what they’re saying.  I just hope I’m not agreeing to be a room parent or something scary like that.

Doctor: Hmm. Well, I can give you a referral to an audiologist if you would like. He can give you a hearing test.

Love: Well, there is some other stuff.

Doctor: Like?

Love: Well, I was on a plane the other day and my vision got blurry and when I closed my eyes it was all sparkly instead of black.

Doctor: Hmm. How long did that last?

Love: Like, 15 or 20 minutes. But it made me very uneasy and I couldn’t really read my Kindle during that time, so it was very weird.

Doctor: And have you had anything like that since?

Love: Well, no….but that was two weeks ago. It could happen again any time.

Doctor: Hmm. Well, maybe go see your ophthalmologist about that.

Love: Well, and I’m not spelling as great as I used to.

Doctor: What?

Love: Well, I tried spelling ‘disintegrate’ the other day and I just totally fucked it up.

*doctor’s eyebrow goes up*. FINALLY! He is starting to grasp the gravity of the situation.

Doctor: You feel you aren’t spelling well?

Love: Yes. That is exactly what I’m saying.

Doctor: Hmm.  So about this acne? Your face looks a little dry. But I can see some of the cysts.

Love: I’m sure I’m hormonally imbalanced. I don’t want to be on the Pill but if I get off of it my face will erupt in the angriest *air quotes* cysts *end air quotes* you’ve ever seen.  It is crappy.

Doctor: Well, sometimes that happens. Nothing topical can really help the hormone induced acne, but I could give you some topical antibiotics and a referral to a dermatologist.

(Does this fuck know anything? He has mentioned every kind of specialist except the one I need, which is the McDreamy neurosurgeon.  I’m starting to lose patience).

Love: Okay, but maybe we should do blood tests or — I don’t know — maybe some sort of procedure just to be safe about what might be happening.

Doctor: Hmm. *he types furiously on his computer* So I’m going to write you a script for the antibiotics and some Flonase for the ear thing.  I’ll also give you the number for an audiologist, dermatologist, gynecologist for the hormones and I’m sure you have an ophthalmologist?

Love: Well, don’t all of these things I’m telling you…you know, when taken together…suggest something? I mean, I’m no doctor but they all seem like maybe something in my brain could be wrong?

*Doctor chuckles condescendingly*

Doctor: I don’t think what you’ve told me suggests that at all.  Your ear is plugged, you have acne, once your vision was blurry and sometimes you spell a word wrong.

Love: *desperation is setting in* WAIT! I forgot to tell you I have headaches some mornings. And I never have headaches.

Doctor: Some mornings? How often? How long do they last?

Love: I don’t know. Maybe three times a week? They last about 10 minutes.

Doctor: What is your pain level and where is the pain?

Love: Well, its kind of hurty. And its in my head, like I said.

Doctor: Do you take Advil for it?

Love: No, because it usually goes away before I have time to take one.

Doctor: Hmm. My nurse will be in to give you your scripts.  See those specialists and we’ll work through these issues.  Have a great New Year!

Love: Wait! But wait! I mean, you don’t seem concerned that I may have a…..a…..BRAIN TUMOR.  (It was time to spell it out for this ass clown.)

*doctor LOLs and backs away toward the door*

Doctor: You’re funny. Have a nice day.  See you in six months? Hope the antibiotics work on the acne…

Love: (mutters under my breath) Dude, I may not be alive in six months. Thanks for nothing.

Maybe I should’ve told him about Pitbull too. Maybe that is where this all went wrong but I just couldn’t trust that he would understand the significance of that data.

So here I am. MRI-less. With a brain tumor (probably) and all I can do is write this blog and then when my brain collapses in a couple of months I’ll have this entry to show everyone “I told you so!”. But then I’ll die and I won’t really have time to tell my doctor about how terrible he is for missing such obvious signs.  I bet if Oprah was his patient he wouldn’t have taken this so lightly.

But I do have a Plan B.  I’m going back to my psychic in February and although it is her policy not to tell you that you have cancer if you do, I think I can get it out of her if the dead people are corroborating my suspicions.  Dead ancestors don’t lie.

And by the way, my zits are still here and my ear is still plugged. So much for modern medicine.

Moonlighting (in Spanx)

Every month I contribute to the It Builds Character site, which is a parenting blog.  I know, right?  Don’t worry – I try to tone it down just a little.  Not so many f-bombs, but just as much sarcasm and angst.  For any of the three or four of you who read this are parents, you should bookmark it.  My pseudonym there is Mama Sully.  You know, just to be really clever about hiding my identity.

So anyways, if you have a love-hate relationship with Spanx, this one’s for you:

Spanx A Lot: My courageous battle with America’s #1 frenemy, shapewear

Bee tee dubs – I expected more from my readers on the Pitbull thing. I mean, for or against, people?! I only have enough money to get one of us a brain MRI.

If loving Pitbull is wrong, then I don’t wanna be right

That is not me on the left.

I’m kind of in love with Pitbull. I think. I’m pretty sure.  Admittedly, I don’t know much about the guy since my infatuation is based almost completely on the single time I saw him perform, which was at the most recent MTV VMA show. The weird thing is, I felt this way in spite of the fact he was wearing a white blazer and red pants. Am I going into menopause or something?

I was able to totally get past his  pimp suit and bald head and his penchant for wearing sunglasses indoors and love him anyway.  Maybe I was listening to Ne-Yo’s sweet voice when they were showing him or something, so that swayed me,  but I was all, “Damn, Pitbull. I think I loooove you.” (The way little Michael Jackson says it in ‘ABC’) Really, Love? Really?

Really.

His voice is kind of low and gravelly and…I don’t know, this thirty-something, suburban working mom of three found herself oddly and mercilessly attracted to the guy.  For very good reasons, I try not to think about mojo because the world cannot afford to have me become a mother again, but as I watched the VMAs I thought I might consider having Pitbull’s love child.   I thought this was odd, and so I felt the logical next step was to inform my husband of my new attraction to this Pitbull character.

Now, you should be aware before we go further that a full 90% of the things I say to my husband on any given day get exactly the same response.  Statements like,  “I think I have a brain tumor”, “Our neighbor’s kid stole our ladder”, “For a second today I thought I had misplaced my Josh Groban Noel CD”, and “Do you think that brown thing in the kid’s shower is poop, or a candy bar?”  all garner the exact same, very quiet….noise.  It kind of sounds like “ugh” but without the negative emotion most of us say it with.  It’s a totally neutral response devoid of any emotion or judgment – just enough to acknowledge I said something, but not enough for me to gauge any sort of meaningful response to the statement.  I’d wager the other 9% of the stuff I say does not even warrant the noise –that is met with silence — and then the last 1% of my musings  may get a full sentence response, but he saves that for emergencies, mostly to tell me what he wants me to pick up for lunch or (I suppose) if one of our children suddenly began to seize.  I think my husband conserves words because I have such a high propensity of wasting them.  And we get along fabulously this way.

So I expected that when I announced to BD  one afternoon that  “I  really like that Pitbull guy” it would be met with the customary “ugh” or perhaps silence. I mean, like most things I tell him, there was a 99% chance I would get one of these two reactions, so no biggie.

It was not to be.

To my utter amazement, when I made the announcement my husband actually turned his eyes away from ESPN,  looked at me, and proceeded to freak out.  “Are you kidding me?! You’re kidding, right? Pitbull?!”  Whoa. WHOA. I haven’t seen an emotional outburst of such magnitude from him since 2005, the year he found out that I had thrown away the hair gel he bought in 1997 that was sitting in our shared medicine cabinet, untouched for 5 years.

“Um….yeah, I think.” I stammered, the shock and awe of his response only beginning to sink in. A millisecond later, when I noticed he did not turn back to ESPN, my fight or flight response was triggered. My senses became sharp and keenly aware.  Time slowed down. My husband had somehow just become emotionally invested in my statement about Pitbull and he was engaging me in a conversation about it.

My brain went into overdrive: “Wait? Whaaa? Is this really happening?  BD knows who Pitbull is? I didn’t even know who he was until I saw the VMAs a week ago.  Oh my god! Maybe my husband is the one with the brain tumor! Oh my god! He may have only weeks to live!”

“You do not like Pitbull.” he tried to say with certainty, trying to regain his composure. “What on earth could you possibly find attractive about that guy?”

“I don’t know. He’s just…cool. Maybe I’m suddenly interested in younger men who don’t appear to be very intelligent, may have an accent, dress like pimps, say “Hey Baby” a lot and surround themselves with scantily clad cokeheads.  What is so weird about that?”

“Who are you?” he demanded. I’m pretty sure he wanted to follow up with “and where have you taken my wife?” but he was a little flustered.  At that moment I realized that he was also in fight or flight mode and his brain was saying: “Oh my god. She actually does have that brain tumor she’s been talking about since our first date. Oh my god! And she is going to die and leave me with all of these damn kids.  This is the worst day of my life!”  Simultaneously, we were both thinking the other had gone all Charlie Sheen and that we’re about to lose each other forever.  All because of Pitbull’s irresistible sex appeal.

We probably should have hugged and kissed and been supportive of the other person’s brain tumor, but instead I said, “Whatever. You liked Christina Aguilera when she was at her skankiest! I married you in spite of that! That should count for something.”

“I was young then. That was years ago!”

Fortunately, before things got way out of control and my husband missed more than five minutes of the game, our seven year old son, aware for the first time in his life that his parents were engaging in an emotional conversation with each other that wasn’t about the true nutritional value of frozen pizza or the absurdity of this year’s college football uniforms, stepped in to end the madness.

“Pitbull sucks, Mom.”

And that was that.  BD nodded solemnly. I reminded our son that “sucks” is not an appropriate word to use in our house, and then I left the scene, devastated.

Not only because one or both of us clearly has a brain tumor, but now my chances of getting tickets to the Pitbull show for Christmas are pretty much nil.  Damn.

Three’s Company

**I am a regular contributor to the It Builds Character parenting site. (Yeah, I know – they let me write about parenting! Whaa?)  Anyway, this was one of mine originally published there in March 2011.  I thought it might be worthy of share on (Love) Notes because I feel too lazy to write something new today . **

When I had my first baby 6 years ago, everything, including the baby, was perfect. I got pregnant about six seconds after going off birth control, and the baby held off entering this world until I could graduate from business school the day earlier. He slept a lot and ate a lot. I sat around my house watching Oprah and Dr. Phil and everything else on daytime TV wondering, “What is everyone complaining about? Babies are easy!” When he was awake, my kid was always smiling and he was cute too. He didn’t have any health issues, allergy issues, sleep issues – nothing. My husband I brought him out to dinner with friends, baseball games, the grocery store, and he just sat there content the whole time. He was so good, there was an uneasy part of me that thought maybe he was the second coming of Christ, which would mean my husband wasn’t his biological father, and that could make things awkward if anyone ever found out. I eventually decided that since no wise men came to the hospital when he was born, I probably wasn’t the mother of God, but then again, maybe they just got lost – that place was really confusing.

The point is, having a baby didn’t really change our lives at all. We were well rested and had no reason to fight because our baby was perfect and so were our lives.

So when my son was 18 months old, I was all about having Number Two because kids were so easy and all those other parents were kind of whiners. Maybe they just weren’t doing everything right like I was – even though what I was doing I just made up everyday and my kid turned out totally perfect and above-average, which kind of proved that I just have a really natural penchant for child-rearing and really great genes. Man, was my son lucky I was so full of Awesome.

But when it was time for Number Two, things didn’t go exactly like Number One. Getting pregnant? Not so easy this time. And I don’t tolerate failure well, so I was naturally a joy to live with from the time I didn’t get pregnant immediately to the almost year later it took to conceive. I am kind of surprised my husband ever consented to sex after that again, because I regularly screeched things like, “We need to have sex precisely between 8:03pm and 8:11pm today or else I won’t get pregnant for yet another month!” and “I hope you have been following Section 3.1.2 of the Conception Rule Book I authored which states no alcohol, loose underwear and no masturbation. Be showered, shaved and ready to perform when I beckon. Failure is not an option.” So, needless to say, our sex life was truly awe-inspiring – not in a good way.

Eventually he finally did it right and I finally got pregnant with Number Two, who would surely turn out to be as perfect as Number One. Because after all, past performance is the best predictor of future performance, right? Number Two was born two days after Number One’s third birthday. I didn’t really prepare all that much because babies were easy and he could wear all his brother’s old clothes and he would like all the same stuff as Number One and this would be even simpler than Number One, so what was the point? My in-laws came into town a couple of weeks after the baby was born and we decided now would be a great time for my father-in-law and husband to renovate the family room by themselves. Because kids were easy, so I wouldn’t really need much help and who needs a family room in tact anyway?

Weeell, so Number Two wasn’t a clone of Number One. He cried a little more. He was gassy. After a few weeks, he began to projectile vomit. And then suddenly Perfect Number One was whiny and withdrawn and seemed to want constant attention as if that was what he was used to before this baby was born. Oh wait….right. And then on top of that, I was the lucky winner of a little bout of postpartum depression, so one of my favorite activities was sitting in my room crying for no reason. Nice. Within no time at all our perfect family of three became a sad, dysfunctional family of four. It turned out Number Two had a rare condition that required surgery to fix and without going into all the gory details, Year One of having two kids sucked. Really sucked hard.

And, I had to deal with the realization that I actually wasn’t the best parent ever, because Number One and Number Two were hard to deal with individually, and collectively. They drove my husband and I insane more than a few times and Wally and the Beav never did that to June and Ward. Perhaps we all weren’t as perfect as I had imagined. We had all we could handle with two kids and two full-time jobs and keeping our marriage out of the Alec Baldwin/Kim Basinger range, so we decided we were all finished with kids. After surviving that first year, it looked like there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. Our sons were healthy and happy and we were sleeping again. We were done. Thank God.

That was until about 15 months ago when I miraculously got pregnant again. Maybe I was to be the virgin mother of God after all. I mean, the odds of me getting pregnant were about equal to the odds of Oprah and Gayle breaking up – which has miracle written all over it. I’m still confused how you can try for a year and have no luck and then when you are doing your best not to, you get pregnant. I guess stuff happens. Well, to us at least.

I wasn’t thrilled. I was scared. We just barely made it through two – how on earth was I going to make it through another? This time my depression started immediately upon the discovery of pregnancy of Number Three. We had to move from the city to the suburbs. We had to get rid of the sedan and find a car that could fit three car seats. We had to become just like “real” parents and real adults that shuttle a bunch of kids around all weekend long. We had to change everything. And I wasn’t happy about it. I had gone from The Best Mother of All Time just six short years before to The Worst Mother of All Time Because I’m Really Super Not Excited About Another Baby.

And then we found out Number Three was a girl. Everyone delighted in exclaiming “You got your girl!” like I was going to keep having kids until I had a girl. I knew boys. I like boys. What on earth was I going to do with a girl? I spent most of the pregnancy disturbed and in denial as we sold our house, moved to the suburbs and turned into the nuclear family cliché. I thought I outsmarted the suburban gods by saying no to the minivan, but then I realized my gas guzzling, insanely huge SUV I had to buy to fit my entire litter was about as original as any Nickelback song you can think of. I would have saved some face buying the minivan.

But then a funny thing happened. Number Three was born and the world didn’t crumble. My life didn’t end. In fact, it got richer. I was in love with my daughter the second I held her. I can’t believe I spent so much time pissed off I was pregnant when I look at those three kids playing together. Having three kids is actually better than having two. Number One and Number Two keep each other busy and they are turning out to be insanely great big brothers and Number Three is not only the cutest kid in the universe, but she started sleeping through the night at three weeks. It makes me think – “Hey, this is easy!! What is everyone complaining about? Maybe we should have a couple more!?”

I think I just heard my husband smash his head into the counter and then chug his glass of wine.

Is that a no?

Did I mention I’m a life coach?

This is me coming out to you, Internet.  Over the past year I’ve been cooking up my next move because even though I finally got a job with an awesome company (for now), I still cannot depend on corporate America to satisfy my emotional, spiritual and intellectual needs, even if it does take pretty good care of my financial ones.  Also, my brand of Awesomeness cannot be safely contained within the confines of any public company. It’s kind of like trying to fit Pamela Anderson’s boobs in my little training bra.  It is extremely unsafe and ill-advised.

So, in addition to my corporate sales responsibilities, mothering three children and a dog, being my husband’s dream come true, and writing random blog posts wherever I’m allowed,  I am now also a practicing life coach.  I even have clients to prove it.  They call me and we talk and hopefully when they get off the phone they feel better and they become insanely productive, joyful and successful.  Usually because they had the Awesome to begin with, and then they somehow forgot it or lost it and then I reminded them and helped them pull that shit out! Well, and then they got off their ass and did something about it. Unlike writing this blog, I get paid for this, people.  Pretty sweet, right?

So if you regularly read (Love) Notes,  you might be wondering how a person like me winds up as somebody’s life coach.  Well, because none of them are aware of this blog.  That is probably the first and most important reason that I have clients, so don’t tell them or I am ruined.  They might actually read this or this and beg PayPal to get their money back.  Secondly, people who are Awesome like other people who aren’t afraid to tell them something straight up.  I’m good at that. Like the way I tell Oprah on this blog just what I think in a way her sycophant producers aren’t capable of because they are under O’s magical Harpo spell. I’m not like that at all.  See, I was born with a condition where I can’t not tell somebody what I really think, and that happens to be extremely helpful in life coaching, and not as much in corporate America which I have learned the hard way, over and over and over.   Finally, inspiration fuels my life. My clients inspire me. Sometimes even more than Oprah and Take 5 bars and those little blue papers you put on your face to get the oil off, which is kind of huge.

But I have chosen my clients wisely.  I don’t have time to help the masses, so they have to be special. Here is the criteria:  they know they have the Awesome in them.  They know the life they are living is not honoring their Awesome.  They need someone to help them tell their current life to fuck off and to start a new life of delirious joyfulness.   And they would like me to be that helper because sometimes being able to drop F-bombs about what is holding you back feels great.  These people? Are going to make a big difference in this world and I get a front row seat, which is amazing.

So I know what you’re thinking: “What gives anybody the right to call themselves a life coach – especially you, Love?” Well, the answer is that anybody has the right at any given moment right now since the practice is not actually regulated in any of the 50 states, so if you feel like a life coach and you have the wherewithall to print up some business cards that say so – viola! – you’re a life coach.  And a lot of people do that.  But not me. I’m a little more legit than that because I also built a very shitty website and I have a special email address with my own company name on the end of it, so I can command much higher prices.  Okay, and yes, I did actually get trained by Oprah’s life coach (I KNOW, RIGHT?!)  but the point is that you don’t have to.  Which is why you should be very careful when you hire a life coach.  It could be Lindsay Lohan working under a pseudonym. Or an anonymous blogger who has had very strange and wonderful things happen to her that she likes to swear about.

Speaking of LiLo, the other thing people usually go off on about life coaches is about how every life coach they’ve ever met is the most fucked up person they know, like they are some big joke.  Like if Kim Kardashian all of a sudden announced that she was a life coach. Actually, that would make for some great television… but  I don’t understand this mentality.  We elect people to Congress all the time who are more fucked up than anybody we know.  So why do people discriminate against life coaches?  If you’re one of these people, go call up whoever is ‘representing you’ in Congress and once they get done uploading pictures of themselves naked to a porn site, they may give you a call back.  What they are charged with is kind of a big deal, so get mad at them for not being perfect.  Leave your judgement of your local neighborhood “life coach” at the door.  Sure, some of them are really fucked up, but there is a market for that! Some people will feel better if they can feel superior to their life coach. They’ll finish every sessions saying,  “Hell! If this crazy bitch who kisses her dogs full on the mouth with her delinquent kids and her drug addiction can be a coach, maybe I should too!” and that is inspiration right there. A win-win if you ask me.

So anyway, now you’re in on my Second Act.  I’m still getting a corporate paycheck, but my practice is going to grow and soon Oprah will be calling me up to have my own show on OWN and dole out advice with Suze, Mehmet, Phil, Nate and the sex doctor lady.  Actually, I don’t want my own show, so I’ll have to turn her down, but I hope that later she’ll describe it as one of her most profound a-ha  moments.  All I want is to be known as the coach behind some of the most incredible transformations the world has ever seen and who also writes F-bomb laced self-important stories about herself on this website. Okay and I also want Oprah to validate me by offering me a show I need to turn down because like she always says, “What I know for sure is that all people want is VAL-EH-DAY-SHUN”.  And also I would like Tina Fey to subscribe to this blog and not because she is making fun of it. So I mean, that’s all.

Dream big, I say! (That’s what I tell my clients.)

My day will come. I can feel it. (That’s what I tell myself.)

Happy Thanksgiving, bitches! (That’s what I tell my best friends. You’re welcome.)

When “spa treatment” actually means “octogenarian orgy”

I was recently in California for a best friend’s wedding.  She is the final woman in my college posse (a.k.a the WINOS), to stop having sex get married, and we thought it would be fitting for the five of us to have a girls day together, going to the spa and chilling out before the big day arrived.

A couple of weeks before the wedding I was on the spa’s website to check out which overpriced facial or massage I’d be signing up for, and I happened upon something in the brochure called the “Kuyam Experience”.  Anything that has a noun or verb followed by “experience” or “adventure” is usually something one should pay close attention to. I learned this the hard way years ago and yet.

I think to save space they were as vague in the description of Kuyam as they could possibly be. It said something about doing a Native American ritual and clay and steam and inhalation therapy were involved or something and you could do it alone or in a ‘private party’.  It was $75/person, which was about 50% less expensive than anything else they had to offer, so I mean, clearly the WINOS needed to consider this. It was the only thing we could all do together. Now, we aren’t very touchy-feely, kissy- huggy, or grab-each-other’s-boobs-and-asses kind of bunch.  We keep our hands to ourselves, our clothes on and we enjoy drinking a shit ton of wine together and laughing.  Sometimes we discuss the sex we aren’t having since we bore our litters, but mostly we debate important things we’ve read in trade journals such as “Us Weekly” and “O”. So something so new-agey was a laugh-fest just waiting to happen.  This experience would provide a host of future inside jokes and the timing couldn’t be better. Our friend was about to get knocked up married — this would get rid of any edge she might be feeling. It would be like therapy. Fun therapy.  I loved thinking about how great it would be.  Almost as great as dressing my 13 month old like this for Halloween. (Note to reader:  Halloween 2011 comes round only once. You can never get it back.  And Mr. T pities the fool who waits till 2012.)

So anyway, I book the thing and we all fly to California for the wedding weekend and the first day is the big spa day. Over breakfast, we had a long debate about whether or not we’re all supposed to wear bathing suits to this thing or not and then someone joked that we might all have to get naked and rub clay on one another.  Yeah, right. Like we’d spend the day before our friend gets married having a Native American orgy/porn sleep over party.   That is the last thing that the Kuyam Experience is about.  I mean, if that was what it was, wouldn’t consuming massive amounts of alcohol and peyote be part of it too?

I assured the group that was is not what Kuyam was, as if I had any idea what it actually was. A little voice in my gut screamed, “Shit – what if it is?!” If it were, which it is not, it would take our friendship to a level of excruciating awkwardness that we might never be able to overcome.  Like when Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie kissed that one time.  Ugh.  That just sent shivers up my spine. I am so sorry to have to have had to bring that into your consciousness, but I’m telling you, it’s a worthy comparison.

So, I love the WINOS with all of my heart, but I like them fully clothed. I’ll be damned if I’m paying $75 to feel relaxed as my naked best friends rub fucking mud all over my pasty naked muffin top.  I laughed then, because us all getting naked together in a room while we spread mud on ourselves is the most ridiculous thing that could happen to the WINOS.  I mean, probably the Kuyam was something where we’ll probably be in…robes…and the clay is probably for us to put on…our faces…or something.  I think we’re just supposed to sit there and meditate and listen to the Native American chanting.  None of this weird naked group rubbing shit.  That would be crazy.

So we check in to the spa and we didn’t need bathing suits – they give us those little wrappy things to put around yourself that cover your boobs and your ass. Which I take as a good sign.  Things are on track.  But a red flag shoots up when I notice that the other spa patrons in the locker room seem to be wandering around naked and carrying on their business like they weren’t. Here’s the thing: I like the spa as much as anyone, but I do not find it necessary to prance around the locker room completely naked, bending over to blow dry my hair as I start up a conversation with a random naked stranger vigorously rubbing her ass with lotion, and act as though we were both dressed and discussing the weather at the grocery store.  Apparently in Ojai California, that is exactly what people think the spa is for.  This is why I live in Chicago.  We don’t play that way.

But whatever. I’m not in Chicago. I am relaxing at a spa in California. I decided to spend as little time as possible in the nudist colony locker room and waited until they led the five of us up to our private Kuyam Experience.  Now, here is the thing: where I am from, “private” means that just the group you signed up with will be present. I thought this was a pretty universal interpretation, but I clearly know nothing about California.  Apparently, in California, a “private” Kuyam Experience means you, your friends and three other strange naked ladies you don’t know who appear to be close to million years old, and really creep you the fuck out.  That was a little “cultural difference” that would have been nice to know when I thought this was a good idea.

The room was really a big sauna, so it was super hot in there. I wasn’t sure if it was the heat that made me want to pass out, or the random old naked chicks. We took the other five seats that were left and they provided us all with a small, cold face towel. I noticed that most of the WINOS immediately covered their faces. Probably to cover up their shock, terror and tears. Maybe I’m projecting. That is exactly what I had to do.  I had unknowingly led our group to our first orgy and it was going to be with octogenarian strangers.  Thank God we didn’t bring the camera.

So the Kuyam Experience begins.  The spa lady tells us to relax and listen while she plays a recording of a Native American man talking so it seems all spiritual.  He starts off by saying that “Kuyam is best done while naked….” and I’m like, “Really pervert? Shit. We’re on some amateur porn site right now, aren’t we? This is why it was so cheap. Mother fucker.” So now there is all this pressure to take off our spa wraps and get naked and my worst fears are all coming true.

I’m sure the WINOS look awesome naked, but I like my friends best when their cooches are tucked away out of my direct line of sight.  So I began a silent prayer: “Dear God, please don’t make me look at my friends’ coochies. Amen.”

We’re then instructed to start rubbing the three colors of clay they gave us on every square inch of our naked selves.  But as I’ve said, I am not getting naked.  Even if I weren’t so immature about being naked with all my best friends, there were very practical reasons for my unwillingness to just throw off my wrap. I haven’t had a wax since before my first kid was born.  It’s like giving somebody 5 minutes notice that they are supposed to host a garden party on wild prairie land.  I hope that is all the explaining I need to do on this topic.  So I vow to leave my wrap thing on and  I’m trying to rub the shit all over like he is saying, but it’s hard to do with one hand trying to hold up my little wrappy thing so that my cooch is covered and no nip is hanging out.

While I’m struggling to maintain my dignity (and heterosexuality), one of the old ladies stands up and goes over to the other lady across from her who I then realize is not old. She is probably our age, but her hands and feet are all (congenitally?) deformed so this is not an easy task for her. I’m not going to lie, this also raises the weirdness factor. And then I realize this is a mother-daughter duo. SHUT. UP.  I am trying not to watch this, but the naked mother and daughter are now standing up, rubbing each other with the clay and one of them has her ass in my friend’s face.  And then she turns around and suddenly there are coochies at eye level. Somebody tipped them off about the Kuyam because they had fresh Brazilians. “Aww fuck. Seriously? Do I really have to watch these two baldies rub each other down?” No. I threw the towel over my face and tried to stay conscious so I wouldn’t drop my own wrap and scar my friends for life.

I closed my eyes and tried to focus on not hyperventilating.  Well, and getting the fucking clay on my ass where it was supposed to go without getting naked because I wasn’t completely sure the mother / daughter duo wasn’t going to ask for my damn help. I was grateful that the other WINOS decided to fight the good fight and keep their hands and vaginas to themselves.

I’m not really sure what happened next. Maybe I did actually lose consciousness. Or maybe I had a psychotic break and now instead of having just one alter ego, I have another.  I just don’t remember anything else until I heard the spa lady saying we could leave. But I had fucking dry clay all over my body, my wrap, my face towel.  They told us there were showers in the next room. I scurried to get up and out of there.  But they forgot to mention that you have to walk past a chamber where hoses come out of the walls and spray you the length of your body.  You sort of have to be naked for this part.  FUUUUUCK.

All of that work and it came down to this.  You know what? Fuck it. I dropped the wrap, ran through the hoses and found a shower stall. The water was heavenly warm. I got the shit off of me.  A robe was waiting for me outside. I snuggled into it, quickly left the shower room and tea and private balcony awaited.  Minutes later, all eight of us lounged in our robes in the warm California air talking about “US Weekly” and “O” as if we hadn’t just lost our faith in God.

Maybe one day the WINOS will talk about Kuyam together again, but I think for now we’ll just leave that for our therapists.

Seriously, I hate you.

I first noticed the bane of my existence, Franny and Milhouse (names invented since I don’t actually know their real names) about a year ago when I moved to the damn suburbs and had to start taking the train into work.  The express train I take is about 35 minutes to downtown.  The first time I saw them, they had walked up to the front of the car near the doors of the train about 15 minutes before we got into the station.  Franny had a worried, sad expression just like Droopy Dog.  Her husband was by her side with a look of concern and deep, deep, deep, deep enduring love on his face as they stood there, holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes.  On a train.  At 7:15 in the morning.  And as they stood there staring at each other, at times he would softly kiss her forehead and sometimes they would hug, and then they would always go back to looking into each other’s eyes and always with the same expressions  — she looking forlorn and somewhat constipated and him staring at her like she is an orphan about to die of starvation.  All this, standing there in the middle of the aisle on the damn train in front of about 50 people.

So the first time I see this, I think “God! Was she just diagnosed with terminal cancer or something?”  These two are fucking intense.  I wonder if it bothers them at all to stand in front of all of the sleepy, seated commuters on a train for 15 minutes and make slow, sad love to one another with their eyes? But maybe something absolutely horrible has happened to them and they don’t even care because they are so traumatized.  It’s kind of embarrassing for them, and me, but I’ll let it go.  I hope she gets cured.  I hope they stay together.  They are so obviously in love.

And then the next day came and there they were again doing all the same shit. And then the next day, and the next.  And after a few days of this, I’ve had enough. It was all I could do not to stand up and scream “Get a fucking room you silly stupid ass wipes! What the hell is the matter with you?”

Nobody could convince me that Franny has ever smiled with her eyes in her entire lifetime. Ever. Franny must be the most depressed, victimized, Eeyore-like person in the universe.  She better have a fucking crazy tough life carrying around that constant pained expression and sucking any positive energy out of the entire train car, leaving a vacuum of desolation and depression.  I think that Milhouse is under the impression that only his dutiful hugs and kisses  keep her from committing suicide every morning and I find myself praying that one day he would stop and let her get it over with so I could enjoy one single fucking day on the train.

If I had to spend more than 4 minutes with Franny I would probably eviscerate myself with a fork  just to get out of her path of misery.  There were times when I felt bad for Milhouse because he has to tend to the needs of the most high maintenance, soul sucking individual on the planet. But then it dawned on me that he doesn’t have to. He LOVES this. This drama played out every morning. He is addicted to this woman’s dysfunction.  I mean, he is as jacked as she is if he has the stomach to be replaying this scene over and over every. single. fucking day in front of an entire train car of people who want them both dead. (I haven’t taken a poll, but how could my fellow commuters not be as infuriated by this shit as I am?)

So I switched train cars to get away from them.  Their shenanigans made me feel homicidal thoughts for the first time in my life and I was worried for their safety. I started day dreaming about punching her in face until I couldn’t see it any more and I’ve never had thoughts like that in my life.  I was scared and surprised about my own visceral reaction to these two. I mean, why do I hate them so thoroughly with my whole being? What about them loving each other sick is so abhorrent to me?

Well, I had to make this stop, so I switched train cars to avoid them.  And that worked! For a day.  But on the second day in my new car where I could feel calm, peace and love?  Oh shit. Franny and fucking Milhouse apparently decide to move a car up, like they are stalking me, and once again in front of an entire train and hold each other and kiss each other and look intensely at one another in the eyes.  Sometimes she would whisper something and then his concern would grow and he’d rub her back and brush the hair from her forehead. Or he would cup both of his hands around her little face and whisper something back. I’ve never heard a single word of what these two are saying, but I imagine in a Mystery Science Theater sort of way that she’s like, “My little toe hurts again. I’m not sure if I can make it.” and then he says, “Darling, if I could take your pain away I would. But instead I’ll just treat you like a sick infant, and I’ll be concerned for your life 100% of this train ride. I love you, Schmoopie.”  and then she looks down sadly because Milhouse should have said something else like, “Darling, I will get down on my hands and knees and suck on your little toe if that will make it feel better.” But he didn’t, and so she must mope some more, all alone in this world and so very sad that her husband isn’t taking her pain away.

So now what? I could not shake these two, but I finally felt grateful I had gotten myself knocked up with kid #3 and finally I could go on maternity leave and Franny and Milhouse and all of their infinite problems they are solving with their intense, infinite love on the train each morning would disappear.  After a week or two, their specter no longer haunted me and truthfully, I forgot all about them. I was sort of busy.

Seven weeks later,  I go back to work and I have to drop my baby girl off at daycare and I’m a mess and as I’m walking to the train station, some guy runs past me like he is trying to beat the world record in the 100 meters. And lo and behold – I recognize him. It is fucking Milhouse.  Seriously, God? Today? These two? Fuck me.

So where the hell is Franny? I thought she and Milhouse were Siamese married people.  How does he expect her to survive without having his face within 6 inches of hers?  “Maybe they divorced!? Maybe she is finally dead!” I thought hopefully.  Well, that would not explain why he was running so fast with his messenger bag flopping all over the place.  He must have dropped our Franny off at the station and went to park the car and though the train wouldn’t be arriving for another 12 minutes, he was running like it was leaving the station.

Yup. Franny was standing there waiting for him with an expression on her face as if he accidentally poured cyanide instead salt into the soup and she was really serious today about jumping in front of the train because of his inadequacy. Very disappointed in him. He didn’t run fast enough I guess. Or perhaps he had screwed up everything already that morning, putting her in a fragile state that only staring into his pleading eyes would ever remedy.  UGH. Kill me now.

But then they did something I could not believe!  They separated for a few minutes! Each lined up on the platform so that they were each on one side of the throng of people waiting so they could hedge their bets so when the train pulled in one of them would be close to the door and could snag a seat where they could sit together.  So clever. I think they were probably texting the whole time just to ensure that Franny was okay as she stood waiting for the train 12 feet and 12 bodies away from her husband.

I realized then I had only seen them in that last half of the ride but apparently, they have to sit together on the train (of course) and if they can’t find a suitable seat where they can sit together, she sits down next to a random stranger and he stands there in the aisle, holding her hand, rather than finding another seat himself. I mean AREYOUFUCKINGKIDDINGME?! These two have no shame. That guy has no balls. It makes my stomach turn.

So now you know about Milhouse and Franny. I’m sorry to tell you that there is no happy ending to this story.  They still ride the train with me every morning. I have switched cars to be even farther away from them, so my mornings have been filled with peace, optimism and calm for the most part because they haven’t found me yet.

But, the story has taken a sad twist.  Franny appears to be pregnant.  I pray for that unborn child everyday.  I cannot imagine the hell on earth that awaits that child when she meets her mother.  I don’t think there is any way in hell that this is going to turn out well for that kid, because her mother’s needs are so vast, I’m sure the baby’s need for food and nurturing and love pale in comparison.  And watch out Milhouse! You spend more than 3 minutes with that child and enjoy it, Franny will have your ass on a platter. You will wish you were never born.

But the good news for me is that this baby might just mean that Franny and Milhouse will no longer ride the train together because she will be institutionalized and he’ll have to stay home with the baby and I can finally get on with being my loving, kind self again. I love happy endings.