Swimsuits And Cellulite, Oh My!

I don’t have the courage to snap a pic of me in a bathing suit and post it on social media for all the world to see.

I live near the beach in SoCal. Nuff said.

And recently when Selena Gomez posted a pic of herself on a beach (and while she definitely looks like she’s gained a few ellbees), the vitriol of the comments is overwhelming.

No way I’m exposing myself to that.

I can do all my own fat-shaming in my head, thank you very much.

I’m not sure this day have been any more discouraging…in fact I’m positive.

At the gym: the stupid instructor – well, not the regular one, but a substitute — didn’t show up to teach Boot Camp because apparently she went to the wrong location and that left about thirty pissed off women with nothing to do but shop for groceries or shop for clothes or shop for jewelry or do all three.

We were all at loose ends, complaining about our entirely wasted morning.

But something was bothering me; I was preoccupied– the thought of what I had to do was haunting my very existence.

I attempted to put it out of my mind—it was essential that I take a deep breath, gather all my courage, and dig down deep inside for all the moxie I could muster. I could not put this task off any longer.

“You can do it, I know you can”.

I could just hear my husband cheering me on as if he was right here with me.

I will meet this challenge with fortitude and resilience.

I am made of sterner stuff, I’m a trouper.

I’m pep-talking myself, and since I’m sitting in my car in the parking lot, no one can really see how crazy I am.

I will overcome my fears.

I must. I have to. It’s now or never. Do or die. DO IT NOW.

There is no other option.

OK. Here it is. I have a real (totally not irrational) fear of trying on swimsuits.

This time I don’t have a choice.

The last one I bought was in 1995. Clinton and my friend Al Gore (click on link to read about my close encounter with the former VP) were in the White House.

The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia died, and I must have listened to (pre-Heidi Klum) Seal’s Kiss From A Rose a zillion times.

Twenty years. That’s how long it’s been.

That bathing suit is in the active stage of disintegration. The material is threadbare and falling apart.

The elastic is so stretched out, the bottoms fall off.

If that hadn’t happened I’d still be wearing it ‘cos for me, there is nothing more humiliating and depressing and ego-reducing and self-esteem deflating than trying on a swimsuit.

It’s a nightmare scenario and reality was every bit as bad as I thought it would be.

The last time I liked the way I looked in a swimsuit in a three-way mirror was like never, and it’s even worse now.

I warily approach the racks of sparkled-up, fringy, polka dotty teeny weeny bikinis.

It’s go time. It’s now or never.

I’m not really a one-piece girl; I’ve never ever worn one; they’re just not flattering on me.

I sighed, whispered to myself an affirmation about being happy in my own skin, and grabbed a handful of suits and ran off to the dressing room.

I’m determined to come away with a purchase.

To give me a bit of confidence, I tried on a cute top and was able to take a quick peek in the mirror and not be reduced to a mass of melting ego.

So far, so good. I turn around so I can’t accidentally catch a glimpse of myself before I’m ready and slip on the bottoms of the first suit.

I don’t even bother looking—it’s too tight, and all I need is to see any excess fat hanging over and you might as well just put me away for a three-day psych eval.

This whole time, I have this dialogue running in my head – don’t give up, it can’t be that bad, you work out a lot, you look fairly good in clothes, people do this all the time. You go, girl! So, I pulled up another bottom and these don’t feel too tight.

The dreaded moment of reckoning was upon me.

Stupid three-way mirror.

Stupid fluorescent lighting.

If I squint, it won’t seem so bad.

I start the viewing in safe mode at my ankles and raise my eyes ever so slowly and squinty past my knees to the part of me I hate the most, above my knees and below my hips,

I can’t even say it, you know the area I’m talking about.

Aww geez, it’s worse than I thought.

How in the world did I amass such ugly body parts?? Craters of cellulite, a lumpy bumpy mess, a horrible mass of horribleness, just hideous.

Yuck.

How did this happen?

Three-way mirrors ought to be banned. I should never have to see that rear view.

No one should.

But it’s too late to turn back now.

I am 100% committed (I know, I SHOULD be committed) to seeing this thing through.

Maybe if I put a ton of self-tanner on, it will hide it all.

I need a drink, I need chocolate.

I needed to get out of there before I had a complete meltdown.

I grabbed the suit before I could change my mind, and the first thing I did when I got home was to cut out the size label.

I never ever ever ever EVER want that as a constant reminder of one of THE most humiliating experiences I’ve endured.

Not that anyone will see me in that suit because I’ll most likely wrap a pareo cover up or scarf around the offending/offensive parts.

At least I won’t have to endure this particular brand of hell for another two decades, and for that, I’m grateful.

victoriana.com

victoriana.com

If we all wore these figure flattering turn-of-the-century bathing suits, there’d be a lot less pressure on us  me to be perfect, you know?

Another Empty Nest, Another Sad Mom

Another empty nest

Poor mama bird, I know how she feels…

 

I found a broken shell from a newly hatched baby under the ficus tree. A pair of warbling vireos make a home year after year in this birdhouse.

 

It’s so sad that she puts all that work into building a nest and feeding her babies and they always fly away.

They always leave mommy. *sniff*

I guess that’s the way Mother Nature intended it to be, but it still sucks.

Facebook is full of moms who can’t wait until their children turn eighteen, almost pushing them out of the nest with a packed suitcase and a sigh of relief so they can resume their “lives”, but that’s not the way I feel about it.

As much as I’m bursting with pride at the independent and successful young professor he’s become, his bedroom is still quietly waiting — just as it always was, with fresh sheets on the bed, clean clothes in the closet, and his favorite books lined up on the shelf.

In the beginning, when he first left for college (years ago), the hardest thing to deal with was the silence — the QUIET was deafening. I have no idea how one child could fill up the space with his presence, but he did.

Now, nothing makes me happier than a call telling me he’s coming home for a visit (sigh) so I can load up on the ingredients for his favorite foods.

You know how mama birds feed their young, don’t you? They regurgitate partially digested insects and worms directly into the beaks of their babes.

I’m not THAT extreme, but you know what I mean.

It’s one of my greatest joys to watch my son eat.

I admit it. I do. I sit across from him at the table and soak it all in, every single mouthful.

(Don’t feel sorry for him, he’s used to it.)

And then he leaves again, and the quiet fills our house and our hearts.

Can you guess that I’m missing my Angel Boy right now?

Older. Wiser. Better?

Many years later, still puzzling things out.

SELFIE PUZZLEStill the paramount focal point of any photo.
Still fabulously attired with beautifully coiffed and beribboned hair.
Still unable to fit round pieces into square shapes.
And yet, still, the world revolves around me.

And most importantly, still adorable.

P.S. I sent this post to hub and he emailed back that this has always been his favorite pic of me and it’s because I look so determined.

Empty Nest Moms, This One’s For You.

When Is the right time to clean out an adult son’s boyhood bedroom? (And I say “son” ‘cos I had one child, a boy, and never experienced what it’s like being the mom of a girl.)


This was the week I did it. Cleaned my son’s room, I mean. Fifteen years after he moved out, or as I like to refer to it, when my darling Angel Boy abandoned his mommy.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m the antithesis —  the total opposite — of a “free range” mom.

Need an example?

I carried Angel Boy until he was about seven-years-old, when his legs dangled to the ground, and he was ALMOST my size.

In this photo, he’s probably thirteen-years-old or so, my little Harry Potter look alike, already taller than me. See that MOMjoy? All it takes is being next to him to bring out that kind of a smile. (And that swishy track suit was all the rage in the 90s, I promise you.)

jasonroomom

So, don’t make me say the dreaded words; “moved out”.

That’s bittersweet and rife with sadjoy (my new word all moms should immediately start using in our daily conversations.)

Sad he’s gone, but joy and pride in his accomplishments and goals. Mostly sad, though.

The purge. Well, more accurately; the relocation.
jasonroomclean1From the first grade, a diorama of the Carlsbad sea wall that his dad built — dinosaur books, academic awards, handwritten spelling tests, report cards, a writing prompt about what the future might hold (potential editor of National Lampoon)…one of the last Valentine’s Day cards made for me before that tragic discovery of the wonderful world of females who are NOT Mom–jasonroomclean2

And so many books: Chaucer to Mann to Goethe to Faulkner, Welty, Shakespeare, all the books from fifteen years of college and graduate school.

In a bookish family like ours, it’s a tough Sophie’s choice kind of dilemma: how does one determine which book might not have value? It’s pretty much impossible.

But here’s the real question…

Is there ever a right time to clean out an adult son’s boyhood bedroom?

The answer to that — for me– has always and will forever be a resounding NO! NEVER! — until I came up with the brilliant idea of simply moving things to another area, saved and protected, organized into plastic tubs to be stored in the garage, thus not purging nor destroying parts of him which is really part of me, but preserving forever and forever my Angel Boy’s childhood which means he hasn’t really grown up and gotten married and moved away and doesn’t need his mommy anymore…SIGH.

Wait a sec, let me wipe away dust-streaked tears. SIGH.

Sniff.

Buck up, Princess Rosebud, there’s still hope, he might be back, adult children DO return home, sometimes they DO need to fly back INTO the nest, so all is not completely lost.

Something to cling to, to be prepared for. Happily.

Every picture, every single scrap of scribbled upon paper, every college application, all art projects from the age of two, baby books, envelopes of baby curls, baby teeth the Tooth Fairy saved, that fallen off shred of shriveled umbilical cord (yes, Angel Boy, I told you we were forever connected, how could you doubt me?)

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not like his room hasn’t been cleaned properly in the thirty years we’ve lived in this house, because it has, but we had stored everything that belonged to him in his closet — just in case he needed that one specific item for any reason.

Or in case he decides to start collecting baseball cards again–of which there are THOUSANDS.

I’m a hoarder, not a tosser;  he and I share this attribute. Although the one and only item we’ve ever tossed out will forever haunt tugboat man and I…his favorite skateboard.

Angel Boy hadn’t sk8d in years, the half pipe ramp in our backyard disintegrated and had been torn down; who would have known that it meant so much to him? Apparently, MOM should have known, but one summery day, tugboat man and I were cleaning out the garage, and did the horrible-est thing EVER — we put the sk8board out in the street instead of framing and hanging on the wall. This was about ten years ago, and my son won’t let us forget how we failed him.

Guilt and shame compels us to regularly offer to replace the board; however, no new board could possibly subsume the sweet memories of that fave —  but we learned our lesson and promised to NEVER again summarily throw away any item that might contain a shred of sentiment without prior authorization. In writing.

Now that his room is so pristine. So vacant. So unoccupied.

I wonder.

What if…

For Rent: One room. Three meals, snacks, and yes, one very sadjoy empty nest MOTHER included…

jasonroompaint

Hairy Hanukkah Harry and The Story of Hanukkah 2012

Hannukah candles

Forget elf shaming, try a little Hanukkah Harry Guilt! (Not gelt).

This post is a time machine back to the year twenty-twelve, but it’s the only one I have for Hanukkah.

That year I was all alone. Again. 

Happy Chanukkah or Hanukkah or Hannukah or Channukah 2014!

However you spell it, it’s eight days of prezzies! 


…or the continuing saga of my life.

As my first husband’s mother said to my mom, “isn’t it such a shame you wasted so much money on her education. She doesn’t really seem to do much of anything, does she?”

Looky here, readers, you all need to stop whining right now. Right now, I say!

I’ve peeked inside your private lives. Here’s a typical scenario:

8:00 a.m. You’re home with your spouse before leaving the house to go to work or he goes to work while you “stay home to take care of the kids” which really means you’re going to Tweet and shop all day and change a diaper or two, only if necessary. Not all of you, but enough to make it true. And I know it’s true ‘cos who do you think I tweet with all day?

Spouse: “I’ll home home at six. See ya.”

{Smooch goodbye}

crzy cat lady bathrobe

This is awesome.

Wife pulls the ratty bathrobe a bit tighter and rebelts it because an important message is acoming…

“Now you come right home after work, don’t stop anywhere; no bars, no strip clubs, nothin’. You come right home, ya hear me?  I’m making something special for dinner tonight.”

Spouse: “OK”

He walks out to the car. Five seconds after leaving the house, before the car even backs out of the driveway, he totally forgot everything his wife said. Typical, right?

6:00 p.m.- no hubby

6:15 p.m – no hubby

6:30 p.m. Here it comes…the power texting, phoning, emailing commences.

{no response}

burned dinner in oven7:00 p.m. Dinner burns. wife drank all the wine, spends time sharpening knives. Candles burnt down to nubs, the smoke of one burnt out candle with its acrid scent floats through the air.

The scissors come out to make a few strategic alterations in his favorite t-shirt.

She opens another bottle of wine.

8:00 p.m. His car drives up, front door opens, “Hi honey, I’m home!”

“WHERE. WERE. YOU.”

‘Wha? Why is it so dark in here?”

Where. were. you. I called. I emailed. I texted.”

“Ohhh…didn’t I mention I’d be late today? I -uh- thought I did.”

-End scene-desperate housewives

OK, I could go on and on but the point is that when 99% of you get mad at your significant others when they’re late; when work or whatever–delays their arrival at the appointed hour–you all need to STOP WHINGING AND WHINING about it!!

Since the world revolves around me, take a walk around South Coast Plaza in my shoes (not the Gucci ones, tho. I wear a 5 1/2 and your feet’d stretch ’em all out.) I was expecting the captain tomorrow, Thursday. I cleaned the house, washed the windows, planned and anticipated the whole homecoming–even made a new welcome home sign–and he called and said he’d be LATE.

HE’S GOING TO BE A MONTH AND A HALF LATE!

HE WON’T BE BACK UNTIL SOMETIME NEXT JANUARY 201THREE!!

I’m not saying not to be pissed at your inconsiderate spouse–I would never think to deprive you of that joy–just think about ME next time.

OKAY?

Your “late” and my “late” are two different things altogether.

Ahem. Now, to give equal time to my cultural background as a full blooded Jewish American Princess, may I formally present to you my Hannukah installation….with the one and only Hairy Hannukah Harry holding the torah. Eight candles represent the eight days that I had to wait before I could spend more of the captain’s hard earned money.

Hannukah candlesForget elf shaming, try a little Hanukkah Harry Guilt!

Best Christmas Decorations EVER. Haters, Line Up! Yoo Hoo, #Pinterest, I’m Calling YOU!

 I hope you enjoy a repeat of one of my most clicked on posts of 2012 while I get ready for my son and DIL who are visiting for a couple of days and my tugboat man who’ll be home on December 23. 
…..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     

Don’t HATE…EMULATE!

It was last year that I was inspired by other topnotch decorators who so kindly blogged about their DIY Christmas tree masterpieces.

In fact, I was so inspired and so thrilled to be stuck here all alone for the millionth time during the holidays that I created a masterpiece of my own, just for you, my loving internet family.

As I looked around my house, the elliptical seemed like it had the best “bones” to adorn.

Plus, it had a ready-made beverage holder!

I didn’t have any Maxi-pads or other feminine hygiene products–‘cos THAT ship has sailed–if you know what I mean. (Hey cool, a nautical reference jauntily tossed in. Damn, I’m good!)

I added a toilet paper garland, a couple of Sophie Kinsella novels, two glittery seashell ornaments, a bottle of wine in the beverage holder, a white plastic poinsettia, a few EMPTY gift bags, and a festive plush Hello Kitty toy.

You can’t really see it very good, but there’s a chocolate bar too, which I don’t have to share with anyone! I’m such a lucky girl! This is the best use I’ve found for the elliptical. Hanging freshly ironed shirts hanging on it is a close second.

Now you can carry on with your day; just take a moment to let it all sink in.

The moral of the story is that it might not be a good idea to leave Princes Rosebud alone for long periods of time.

Don’t HATE…Emulate.

Decorated for Christmas elliptical

Property of Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

decorated elliptical

Property of Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

Yummy! Old-Fashioned Strawberry Cake Roll

cakeroll8

It was devoured in record time; I didn’t even have the chance to take pics of a slice!

Full house to empty nest in the space of forty-eight hours.

It was a whirlwind visit from my Angel Boy; more like a pit stop, really.

The summer class he was teaching at Yale was over.

We picked him up from the airport Monday afternoon and he flew away Wednesday afternoon.

(Oh, and my tugboat man left Wednesday MORNING for a week or so — not too long to be upset about — just the right amount of time to clean and shop. Yes, I made two separate trips to the airport in one day.)

Except for the hours he was sleeping or surfing, my son’s number one activity was EATING.

That child of mine always had a wonderful appetite, but this was Olympic-level eating.

Chew, swallow, repeat.

A mom’s heaven.

I was a whirling dervish of a baker: Apple Pie, French Bread, Blueberry Banana Bread, Chard and Mushroom Lasagna plus his favorite Cake Roll. Sometimes I fill it with ice cream, but summer berries looked so beautiful at the farmer’s market so that’s what I did.

I bet he gained at least three pounds.

I’ve posted the recipe I always use from my mom’s 1940’s Betty Crocker cookbook.

Here’s a pictorial about how to create the roll. I did it outside on our deck because it’s kind of messy with the powdered sugar but if you don’t use it, the cake sticks to the cloth.

cakeroll1 This is how it should look, barely browned and still spongy. You can cut off the edges if they’re crispy.cakeroll2 Carefully turn it over onto a powdered sugar-covered cloth and peel away the parchment paper without destroying the cake (easier said than done!)cakeroll3 Roll it all up like a giant sushi roll and put in the freezer to cool off while youcakeroll4slice the gorgeous strawberries. Add only enough sugar to macerate (get juicy.)cakeroll6There is no excuse NOT to whip fresh cream. Nothing out of a can, thank you very much! It only takes a few minutes and it’s so yummy.
cakeroll5Unroll the cake, spread first with whipped cream, and then layer the strawberries.
cakeroll7

I used a LOT of strawberries and cream which made it hard to roll, but I wanted to fatten up my skinny child, so I didn’t care so much about the symmetry.

Bon appétit!
Trust me, it’s worth the effort!
cakeroll8


Old-Fashioned Strawberry Cake Roll w/Freshly Whipped Cream

3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  • Heat oven to 375°F. Line 15x10x1 -inch pan with waxed paper, foil or cooking parchment paper; generously grease waxed paper or foil with shortening. (I used a cookie sheet with sides)
  • In medium bowl, beat eggs with electric mixer on high speed about 5 minutes or until very thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in granulated sugar. Beat in water and vanilla on low speed. Gradually add flour, baking powder and salt, beating just until batter is smooth. Pour into pan, spreading to corners.
  • Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake. You should still hear some sizzle…Immediately loosen cake from sides of pan and turn upside down onto towel generously sprinkled with powdered sugar. Carefully remove paper. Trim off stiff edges of cake if necessary. While cake ¡s hot, carefully roll cake and towel from narrow end. Cool on cooling rack at least 30 minutes.
  • Unroll cake and remove towel.
  • Beat one small container with 2 or 3 tablespoons sugar until stiff peaks form.
  • Slice two cups of strawberries, sprinkle with 2 or three tablespoons of sugar. Stir and allow to macerate for a while. (Save a couple for garnish)
  • When cake is cool (hurry it up  by placing in freezer for 1/2 hour) spread evenly with whipped cream and place sliced strawberries evenly over the unrolled cake.
  • Roll up, sprinkle with powdered sugar, garnish with whole strawberries, and refrigerate.

P.S. Try my very best Apple Pie Recipe. Click here.

Lentil Cookies v2

My son-2Even though TECHNICALLY I’m defined as an “empty nester” because my son is on his own, married, and no longer resides at Casa de Enchanted Seashells, I don’t believe he’s ever further away than my heart.

I woke up on Saturday to read this email from my Angel Boy, which is the reason why I baked cookies early this morning and sent a package off to him while they were still warm:

angelboyemail

Not ALL is perpetually enchanted in the life of Princess Rosebud; It’s still difficult to think about or talk about my son’s recent emergency life-saving surgery  — I can’t even GO there to that place of “what if” — BUT the worst diid NOT occur and he’s making a full recovery.

Briefly, here’s what happened.

He had an obstruction due to a congenital defect we never knew he had, Meckel’s diverticulum. During his surgery, 24 inches of small intestines were removed because they were necrotic, along with 8 inches of ascending colon, his appendix, and lots of other small valves and little parts.

It all came about with no warning. Crazy, right?

Here’s that “if” again. IF my DIL had not fought the ER and been his best assertive advocate to insist they take a more proactive approach to diagnosis his pain (she just would NOT GIVE UP) and IF we had not had such an amazing surgical team led by Dr. Todd Stafford  –  well, let’s just say that we are all very grateful that he had such a dedicated team of doctors. Nuff said.

He lost about twenty pounds during his ordeal, and at six feet and 160 pounds on a GOOD day, that much weight loss made this normally fit and healthy young man look emaciated.

During his post-surgical recovery, his diet was limited to low fiber and low residue foods; a lot of Cream of Wheat, mashed potatoes, and chicken noodle soup. No vegetables, no fruit, nothing that would interfere with the healing of multiple incisions and re-joining of internal organs.

I’m happy to report that three months after the surgery, he’s defied the odds and is back to eating pretty much everything he wants, with only minor digestive upsets.

He went back to work, teaching a summer course at Yale, and I’ve been sending him healthy cookies and high protein bars on a weekly basis —  and as requested, he’ll receive the lentil cookies on Wednesday, and that should keep him supplied until he’s here next week for a short visit. Yay!

You can be sure that I’ll be cooking and baking nonstop. I’m so HAPPY to have my Angel Boy here, surfing with tugboat man and best of all, close enough to touch and hug and play Scrabble and Bananagrams.

Every minute of every day, I’m grateful to be one of the luckiest moms in the world.

To read all about Angel Boy’s surgery, click on the following links: 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A while back, I posted Alton Brown’s Lentil Cookie recipe that I discovered on Food Network’s website.

This time, I experimented and created a version that’s a bit more intensely nutritious.

LENTIL COOKIESAngel Boy’s Lentil Cookies

They are quite dense, full of protein and energy,  and would make a great snack for hiking.

  •  2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup protein powder
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup smooth unsalted peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup brown sugar (If you use honey/agave, adjust the flour to accommodate the additional liquid)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 egg (or not if vegan)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups lentil puree, recipe follows
  • 1 cup dried fruit, I used a mixture of blueberries, strawberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins, apricots.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine egg, oil, vanilla, yogurt, brown sugar. Whisk briefly to incorporate. Add peanut butter and lentil puree and mix thoroughly. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, protein powder, ground flaxseed, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice.  Add the flour mixture. Use a wooden spoon or a hand mixer to combine. use hands to mix. Stir in dried fruit. If it seems a little dry, add yogurt. Form the dough into balls about 2 teaspoons in size and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper Bake for 13 to 17 minutes, depending on your oven’s personality.

Lentil Puree:

  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups water

In a small pot over medium heat, combine the lentils and the water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and puree. If using immediately, let cool.


 

Just a Cup of Coffee – Part Two

Just a Cup of Coffee…the true love story of Princess Rosebud and her tugboat man.

Click to read Part One HERE

(This might take a while, grab your hankies, it could have been broken up into three parts, but I didn’t want to prolong the happy ending.)

Fast forward to a year later, the following September 1991.

Yes, I kept my promise; no dates and no mistakes. There was the excruciating lure of nubile and suntanned young surfers but I stood firm in my resolve in spite of the half naked, salty-skinned–oh crap. Living in Southern California is sooo like opening up a fresh box of candy. It wasn’t fair, but a deal’s a deal.

box of chocolatesIf only I could have had just a teensy-weensy bite here, a bite there–oh, SO yummy–that one has a caramel center, or that other one’s coconut-filled, or a tart juicy cherry embraced by dark chocolate, or full of Baileys Irish Creamer–you get what I’m sayin’?  I’ll just bet you do. On my towel, surveying the beach, I wanted to take a little bite out of each one, so to speak.

But….I had to go cold turkey and avoid them all. Not one lick, not one taste.

I had a goal, I had a vision; I had my list–clenched tightly in my hand–WILLPOWER–it’s all about the willpower.

Here’s where serendipity might have had a hand in the convergence of our lifepaths.

In the beginning, I THOUGHT I first laid eyes on the captain when I was hired for the marketing department of a local cruise line.

Aside…because the whole idea of me and boats is a joke. I’m not what you’d consider sea-worthy. I’d only been on a couple of boats previously and became violently seasick on both of those trips.

OK, now read this – could it be the hand of fate that brought us together? Was our eventual connection forged a decade before ?
_________________________________________________

Was it luck or serendipity? 

On a romantic evening In front of the fire with a couple snifters of Courvoisier, my tugboat man and I concluded that our paths did cross, not in a prior life, but…

In the 1980s he captained a charter vessel in our local harbor–tours of the bay, dinner cruises; that kind of thing.  

In between going out to sea for four to six months, he’d come back to SoCal for a break and to surf-and worked locally.

Around that same time, my mom and I took my then five-year-old son on his first boat ride, a tour of San Diego Bay.

At that time, there was really only one boat company that offered daily excursions.

It wasn’t until we had been married for probably ten years or so– looking through an old photo album–when he saw a pic of my mom and me on “his” boat — that the subject came up.

(That’s part of me and the Coronado Bridge. Obviously, my mom couldn’t take a decent pic.)

Since there were only two captains, and the time of day we were there was during his (remembered) shift, it’s highly possible that we spoke–or made eye contact. As captain, he always greets and counts the passengers while he collects boarding passes; especially because we had a child with us. Always concerned with safety, my captain.

Our ships DID, most likely, PASS in the night (day).  

What would have happened if we had talked? I was married with a little boy–the timing was absolutely not right.  

Did we each hold on to a momentary glance or imprint on our subconscious so that our path to romance was pre-determined? 

Why did I become employed at a cruise line when I don’t even like boats?

I still have no idea.

That we met in 1991 and felt an instant connection might be interpreted as luck or serendipity. 

Which do you think it is?
_______________________________________________________________

Back to the story:  Was it merely coincidence–meaninglessly simultaneous occurance–or  synchronicity?  We agree that it was meant to be. We’re two peas in a pod, me and him.

We mirror each other.

One of my first marketing duties was to attend a downtown trade show. I vividly recall my ensemble–and before you get all judge-y and everything, let’s take the year into consideration–1991–please be kind.

You know you looked exactly the same.

You KNOW you did.

I wore a short split skirt (dare I say skort) of silky polyester-type material (I know, I know) imprinted with brightly colored parrots (cringe), a turquoise blazer, and four-inch-high red heels. Oh, and they were LARGE parrots.  I’m five-feet-tall with very curly dark brown hair. You can imagine the style when I tell you it added five inches to my height. Nuff said–stop laughing, I have nothing to apologize for; it was the decade of big hair.

The owner of the company walked by our booth and introduced me to his senior captain. I played it cool; I’m good at that–just a quick handshake and then I turned my attention to the marketing materials like I was very, very busy.

I only allowed myself a passing glance his way, committed as I was to making a good impression on my boss. Plus, I was fully dedicated to my promise to celibacy and just because he was ADORABLE was no excuse to give in to temptation. Not even with those green-gray eyes. Not even.

Since I was on a “man diet, I transformed him (in my mind) into a rich chocolaty truffle chocolate truffleand successfully used my powers to resist–at least on that particular day. During the next few weeks, our paths crossed many times; at the office with brief hellos in the hallway, and with overt scrutiny during cruises when I accompanied some of the charters. (When I wasn’t stuck with my head in the toilet. I told you the truth, I’m not a natural seawoman.)

As much as I tried to deny it–I can’t lie–there were those familiar little tingles, goose bumps even, delicious frissons of attraction. On one hand I was fighting it with all I had, yet on the other hand I spent more time in the office than I really needed to.  A little extra makeup, perfume, a few new outfits–you know how it is. OK OK, I admit it! A smile from him did something to my insides, that fluttery butterfly sensation I willed myself to ignore.

I carried The List in my handbag and referred to it in moments of weakness, and for a while I was able to avoid temptation.

Here comes the good part, y’all.

In mid-November, I met with a client at one of the boats to plan a large corporate event. As we walked up the gangway, I discovered the captain was on board in the wheelhouse. I had no idea he would be there, and resolved to ignore him, except that everyone always wants to meet a captain, (too much Love Boat) so I was forced to be polite and make the introductions.

Here’s where it all went wrong-or right-depending on your point of view.

After my meeting ended, I did not immediately leave. I stalled, meandering around the small area of shops located near the harbor. I was so mad at ME; I tried to talk myself into leaving by going over The List and telling myself that I should be writing up the event details.

Just GO, I said to myself! But guess who didn’t listen? I found myself furtively looking around to see if the captain was still there. Since the whole chocolate visualization thing didn’t seem to be working anymore, I turned him into as a gooey, cheesy, spicy pizza and I used all my willpower to stand firm–to stay focused–recounting all the reasons why that delicious piece of heaven is not worth the calories.

I swear to you, I had every good intention of leaving and driving to the corporate office, I really did, but cosmic forces had grabbed hold of my good sense.

I was powerless. The hand of fate had me in her grip–and that chicka had been working out with the heavy weights.

Finally, I could find no further excuse to drag my feet and delay the inevitable departure.

I very reluctantly and slowly walked to my car, parked in front of a coffee shop, and as if by magic, the captain appeared.

I was trying to act all cool and nonchalant in spite of the fact that my heart was racing.

“Where are you going? Why didn’t you say goodbye? “What’s up?” “How about buying a co-worker a cup of coffee?”

I demurred, saying I had to go, I had another appointment (not true); uh, I don’t buy guys coffee, and he kept badgering me,

“C’mon, don’t be stuck up, don’t you have fifty cents for a cup of coffee?”

(That was before six-dollar lattes and Starbucks on every corner.)

“You don’t want me to think you’re a snob, do you?”

[pause]

That did it.

Of course you understand why I wouldn’t want him to think any of those things, right? RIGHT? It was a matter of pride; once he turned on his charm, I was hooked. I unearthed a few quarters from the bottom of my handbag.

Yes, I bought the coffee. It’s something I can’t believe myself.

My other credo had always been, “Princesses don’t pay. Men pay.” But buy the coffee I did.

Honestly, I was borderline pathetic. Not even borderline. I was hanging on to the cliff with my fingertips.

It’s like sparks were flying off his body. I made every excuse in the book to lean over and oops, accidentally brush his arm and cop a sniff. He smelled heavenly.

It’s that damn pheromone thing. I was–still am-hopelessly–magically attracted. He’s irresistible. And he knows it.

We took our coffee outside and sat at a cement patio table. It was one of those perfect SoCal November days–balmy even. For a few moments we said nothing as we sipped from our coffee and enjoyed the warmth of the sun.

Red lights flashed on and off in my head.

DANGER AHEAD! STOP THE MISSION! RUN!

Less than a foot away from me he straddled the half-moon shaped concrete bench. His thighs were encased in soft worn jeans and my thoughts were heading into hazardous waters.

His hair was wet and looked like he just had showered.

“What are you doing here? Did you know I was going to be here?”

“No, I didn’t, I had to update the logs, and I surfed a bit earlier.”

Ah, that’s where the wet hair came from.

“So…you’re a surfer?”

That is most definitely NOT on my list.

“I like to think I am.”

Scintillating conversation, huh? I thought that was a bit arrogant, a bit–AHEM–cocky.

Later I learned that he had spent much of his youth in Kauai and he really was/is a great surfer, but I didn’t know much about him — only what I was feeling.

As the conversation unfolded and we chatted–he told me where he lived and where he had gone to college, and–those thighs, oh wait–no, not that–of course I meant what kind of music he liked and that he loves animals–I found myself listening to his voice but not hearing the words.

This is where it gets weird.

And pinky-swear, it’s all true, it all happened exactly like this. It was REAL.

He looked at me and smiled.

I felt lit from within.

My heart melted. (Even now, his smiles affect me the same way.)

I sighed. He sighed. I sighed again.

That was IT.

Everything became quiet and a calm-before-the-storm sensation enveloped me. I placed my hands on the bench because I was suddenly lightheaded–I needed support because I felt like the ground beneath shifted;  waves that triggered that falling phenomenon just before you completely succumb to sleep–like a hypnagogic myoclonic twitch.

Faintly, I sensed the planets tumble into position, the clickclickclick… of stars aligning in the heavens; the sun, moon, Venus, and Mars at that moment were singing in the universe.

Did we just have an earthquake? I jumped off the bench like it was on fire. I ran to my car, unable to deal with the intensity of the moment. He was right behind me. He was so annoying!

“Where ya  goin’? We  should go out sometime.”

I was having a hard time breathing and fumbled with my keys as I unlocked the car. I leaned against the door for support and turned to him,

“When? Tonight?”

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not known for being subtle.

“I have to work a charter later, I’ll give you a call.”

And with that, I drove off.

Of course, I never went back to work. Who could blame me?

I raced home and power-called all my girlfriends.

I was in panic mode.

I reported every detail to one friend after another. I needed advice, I needed explanations. I needed to be talked down. But no one had experienced anything comparable. No one knew what to do.

I was on this voyage alone; no rules to follow. I was in uncharted waters.

That evening I did what we are warned not to do, what mothers counsel daughters against.

I was nervous and jumping out of my skin, but also determined to be 100% honest (also on my list). How else would I know if he was “the one”? I called and left a message on his voicemail. Remember way back when we used voicemail?

“Hi, can you give me a call when you hear this message? There’s something I need to ask you.”

He called a couple hours later. I was  on my bed, reading a magazine, pretending I was not waiting for the call…dreading the call.

“Hi there, it’s me. I got your message, but I was planning to call you anyway. What’s up?”

I took a deep breath and decided it was now or never–I needed to go for it…take that chance. DO it.

”Uhh, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what happened at the harbor…I never felt anything like that EVER, and I think… I think…”

I took a deep breath and the words tumbled out,

“IthinkIamfallinginlovewithyou
andwonderifyoufeelthesame
way–orifitisjustme.”

“I mean, I really need to know.”

[Pause]   [More pause]

Oh boy. In that single, painful, heartstopping moment I wished I could hit delete and erase the last five minutes.

Palms sweaty, heart pounding, OMG, I am a total f-ing idiot–what have I just said–I’m insane, he’ll think I’m a freak or I’m exhibiting psycho pre-stalker tendencies–and then, finally, it seemed like hours of silence had gone by–I was gonna hang up and hide under my bed if he didn’t say something–he said,

“Umm, no, it’s not just you. I’m feeling the same exact way. Something happened to me today too,  and I can’t explain it either.  How about us going on a real date and let’s talk about it?”

I released the breath I hadn’t been aware I was still holding. That last planet locked into position.

I discovered my soul mate, my tugboat man.

There’s lots more to this story; some twists and turns and ups and downs, but the thread that ties it all together is how we found each other and fell in love.

Today: I wait for him to come home. And wait. And wait. And remind myself, “Don’t count the miles, count the I-love-yous”

Christina Perri, “Miles”

Just a Cup of Coffee – The Love Story of Princess Rosebud and her Captain – Part One

Today:  Sometimes he’s here, sometimes he’s not. That’s the life of a tugboat captain’s wife. Right now he’s not..

weddingpicture

Yup, the secret’s out. I’m married to Johnny Depp

The Wedding: February 21, 1994

Our song, our first dance as husband and wife. “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole
http://youtu.be/wkVuQGgx7d8

The Beginning…This is the love story of me, Princess Rosebud, and the tugboat captain.

We met when I was a year into my deal with myself to stay celibate until I met someone, uh, worthy…

Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010… At 3:40 this afternoon, I was in the threshold of our garage door that leads into the living room where I had dragged in a ladder to help with my latest project–painting the living room walls a divine shade of seafoam green–to stay busy when the captain’s out to sea. I mean, I can’t shop ALL the time. A girl has to take a break now and again, right? I set the ladder down and went back to close the garage door. At that precise moment, the glass vases on the shelves surrounding our fireplace began to vibrate and wobble. Here in SoCal, I’ve endured a handful of quakes, but never such intense shaking.

Through the open garage door I saw the bicycles that hang from the ceiling sway back and forth. As I attempted to process THAT information, the crystal lustres on my grandmother’s antique porcelain candelabras clashed and clinked. Terracotta tile flooring in the foyer seemed to roll back and forth as if I was on a sailboat in San Diego Bay, and I had a difficult time standing.

Feeling dizzy and unbalanced, I grasped the doorway for support.  My poor kitty gave me a dirty look like I had interrupted her nap on purpose. So much for the concept that animals can sense an earthquake–not this spoiled little brat.

I ran up our oak-planked steps into the family room and through the patio doors onto the deck and shouted out to the neighbors.

“Look at your pool!”

“I know, this is crazy! Are you OK? Any damage?”

“I don’t think so. A couple seashells fell off the shelf in the family room, but I was so freaked, I didn’t want to stay inside, so I ran out back. I don’t know if we should stay in the house or what we should do!”

“Us either! Let’s see what’s on the news.”

This quake was so violent that it caused the water in their pool to slosh over the sides like a mini-tsunami. We each went back in our respective homes and turned on CNN. We discovered that there had been a 7.2 earthquake in Mexico. The first reports that came in revealed a lot of damage near the epicenter in Mexicali, but no major problems in San Diego; only broken glass and falling cans at grocery stores, which seemed pretty miraculous considering the earthquake’s size.

Still spooked by the shaking and some pretty strong aftershocks, I surveyed the house, removing anything unsecured and potentially dangerous.

This is as good a time as any to confess something.

I’m a shell-aholic.

seashell mirrorI’ve got shelves and shelves of seashells in every room–including the bathroom. Everyone collects seashells, right? One here, one there, as a memory of a great beach or a fun vacation, right? Well…I’m a seashell hoarder. I want ALL seashells–there are never enough seashells to collect or buy. I make things out of some of them–picture frames, mirrors, boxes–they line the walls in our two bathrooms and even our front door, but mostly they just hang out–in bowls, on shelves, anywhere and everywhere. There is no empty space in our house, and if there is, it’s quickly filled with a shell–or a rock.

After a couple decades, we have come to an understanding, the captain and I. He thinks I’m crazy and obsessed with shells and rocks and driftwood, and I don’t destroy his surfboards if he doesn’t give me a hard time about it.

I anxiously emailed the captain who’s half a world away in the middle of an ocean. I figured that if anything would cause him to cut his four month assignment short, this might be it. The way that emailing works in deep ocean situations is through a pretty inefficient satellite; sometimes it takes hours to complete the process. If there’s a real emergency, I have a phone number to call, but this didn’t really fit the definition. I wasn’t hurt and the house wasn’t damaged or anything. When he finally read the email and wrote back, he told me to “standby” at the house phone because he would try to make a call from the boat’s sat phone. When he called, I used all my powers of persuasion to convince him to come home, but to no avail. He simply wasn’t going to call the United States Coast Guard to fly a rescue mission a thousand miles from land to bring  him home because the kitty and I were scared.

Well, I know where I stand in his list of priorities. Hmmm, I wonder if this is when I hatched my plot to get that Chanel. Hmmm, I wonder.

After that stressful event, and many aftershocks later, some pampering was definitely well deserved. That evening, I drew a bath in the upstairs bathroom we call the spa because it’s decorated in earthy tones with seashells and beach glass surrounding the mirrors and along the walls.

(I know what you’re thinking, and I don’t care.)

I lit a fragrant and calming lavender candle, eased my body into the almost too-hot-to-stand-it water, and trickled in ginger and lemongrass aromatherapy oils. Sipping from a glass of merlot, I leaned back, closed my eyes, and my thoughts wandered.

Experiencing an earthquake; the dizziness, the weightless feeling in a tub of warm water; it all reminded me of falling in love. It all felt the same… and it all started with a fifty cent cup of coffee.

Newly divorced in 1990, I speed dated a few guys, including one totally boring and slightly scary man who immediately wanted me to meet his parents after the first (and last) date, along with a couple of total idiots whose combined IQs prolly didn’t equal my Border Collie‘s. Those unsavory experiences became flashing red lights–STOP! NO! THINK!–impossible to ignore–that I seriously needed to take some time off the dating circuit.

It was the perfect time for a list.

I’m an inveterate list maker; I prioritize my errands and even list groceries in the order of where they’re located in the store– like my own custom board game–where I start at the entrance and finish at the cash register.

I wrote this particular list with the hope that if I documented the qualities desired in a significant other, the universe would deliver the right one when all the planets were aligned. Or so I dreamed.

At midnight on August 7th, 1990, with a bottle of wine to seal the deal, I made a promise to myself–I would not date (or do anything else) for a very long time, and the next one would be “the one”.

The List
1. Must call when he says he will. This is non-negotiable.
2. Must show up on time for dates.
3. Must love pets. Also non-negotiable.
4. No cigarettes. No smoking, and of course, no drugs.
5. Likes to exercise, work out, eat healthy, etc.
6. Must have gainful employment.
7. Must be nice and polite and honest and trustworthy.
8. Fidelity is of paramount importance.
9. When the time is right and he meets my son, my son has to like him. Also non-negotiable.

Fast forward to a year later, the following September 1991.

Tomorrow:
Part Two…Just a cup of coffee, the love story of Princess Rosebud and the tugboat captain