Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Merle and the Fetus Christmas Letter - Part 1

It's possible that I am the freak magnet.

It's been easy to blame it all on my parents. They're often responsible for the introduction of freaks into my life, but even without them around the crazy still finds me. I try to hide but the crazy sniffs me out.

Here is an example.

This week I received a month-late Christmas letter from my former neighbors in Atlanta. I haven't seen them since 2000 but we still send cards and they're nice people in spite of the fact that they scare the ever loving crap out of me. I can't chide them for sending their Christmas letter a month late because if I had five kids all a year or so apart I can't imagine that I'd even have the time or energy to get a Christmas letter together at all, much less actually send it to people in the real mail who I haven't seen in eight years. They get a lot of credit for that.

My issue was the content of the letter. When I opened it up I was treated to a disturbingly detailed rendition of the ten developmental stages of a fetus. As drawn by a six year old. No, for real. It is only a matter of a decade before this child blows up a federal building.

All I'm saying is that it's just kind of creepy to open a Christmas letter and see developing fetuses as envisioned by a child and when I read the letter, most of it was about "the unborn" which seemed to be a big theme in my former neighbors' 2008.

I don't write a Christmas letter. I am too lazy. If I want someone to know what the hell I'm doing I send them right here. And really, my Christmas letter wouldn't be particularly fascinating anyway. Mine would have gone something like this:

"This year I worked my ass off and so did my husband. Last May we went to see my grandfather for the last time and saw a horse die. Then we went to Philadelphia and ate it. A few weeks later my grandfather died and I went to his funeral. My sister got taken by a con artist and my parents hung out with hookers. After that I spent a month in Iowa. I had diarrhea for most of this year and finally learned how to spell it. Then we both worked some more and I went to Millpond for Christmas which sucked and now we're both back to working some more."

There you go. That's my Christmas letter, 100% free of fetuses, as it should be. See how boring I am?

But perhaps if you're to understand the "unborn" gracing my former neighbors' Christmas letter, you should get a little background on my former neighbors themselves. And by the way can I just add that when people say "unborn" all I can think of are vampires because it sounds like "undead" to me and is often said in the same reverent, weird tone normally reserved for bloodsuckers.

I moved into my house in Atlanta in January of 1996. Across the street I soon learned, was a boarding house of sorts for Christian male college students, which was owned by another, similar minded young man who had already graduated. Behind the boarding house was a Baptist Church and down the street from that there was a mosque. All of it fascinated me.

A few days after I moved in the owner of the Christian boarding house of sorts came over and gave me a big ass apple pie that he had baked himself and although it was a little sour and the crust had the consistency of cardboard, I of course, ate it anyway and was utterly endeared of my neighbor. His name was Merle, which is a strange name for a young man. He wasn't even thirty back then. He also looked exactly, in every way, like Kip from Napoleon Dynamite, although I didn't know that then because the movie was years from even being an idea. Here is a picture if you need one.

Merle was a Jesus Freak. I was already well acquainted with Jesus Freakery by then as I lived in Atlanta where there are several of these types and because I am related to many of them. But Merle was a new kind of Jesus Freak. I assumed he was a Baptist, living in front of a Baptist church and all, but he quickly explained that he was not. Damn those Baptists to Hell. They believe in free will. Merle was a hard-core, pre-destined Calvinist.

I had never heard such nonsense in my entire life. Nothing that Merle attempted to explain to me about the doctrine of pre-destination made a lick of sense to me. Finally I chalked it up to the fact that I was not one of the elect and that I was going to Hell. That at least was the one thing both Baptists and Calvinists could agree upon - that I was definitely, without a question going to Hell. I lived with my boyfriend after all. When I first moved in across the street my whore ass wasn't even engaged.

I think this started a major competition amonst the residents of the boarding house. They weren't all Calvinist Presbyterians like Merle. A couple of them went to Merle's church, but most of them were Baptists who went to the church in the backyard and they all just agreed to disagree about the free will issue and lived in Jesus-y harmony there together. But all of them, no matter their sect, wanted to be the one who finally converted me from my sinning ways. I think they all secretly wanted me to turn into a good Christian girl that they could marry.

I found this pleasantly amusing. I also found a lot of the Christian boys pretty good company. They often had big dinner parties where they invited all the single girls they were interested in courting and the girls would show up in big flower print dresses with bows and primly nibble at the food the boys managed to prepare. Then if a boy talked to them they'd blush and titter and the whole thing was just more entertainment than I could stand.

I lived with Evil Ex at the time and Evil Ex thought that the people across the street were the biggest pack of wingnuts he'd ever seen so he wouldn't have anything to do with them.

"You want to hang out with them go ahead. I'm going to play golf for three days straight."

Back then I thought golf games really took three days. What Evil Ex was actually saying was that he was thrilled to have a bunch of religious fanatics occupying my time because it freed him up to go spend three days at his girlfriend's house.

Merle and I got to be really good friends and he made it clear from the start that he was not interested in me as anything more than a friend (seriously my heart was broken over that) and that he was being a good Christian neighbor and that even though he had no idea what God's plan for my destiny ultimately was, that he felt it was his duty to be a good role model of Christianity for me anyway. Whatever. I thought he just liked hanging out with me all the time because I was funny and that he just didn't want to admit it. We used to go out to eat all the time, except Merle would only eat at greasy spoon soul food places. Sometimes we'd go run errands together. If Evil Ex was away and I needed something fixed, Merle would fix it for me. He rushed me to the vet when my cat got hit by a car and once he even took me to the hospital when I had food poisoning and then called into work for me so I wouldn't get fired. Merle was a good friend, but we used to get into some rip roaring arguments. This is because he believed in some ridiculous stuff. His side of the story is that we argued because I was a sinning heathen who did not have God's grace. But still, we had a good time arguing anyway. One of Merle's favorite arguments was against environmentalists whom he felt were sinning because the Lord had given us the earth to exploit, not to take care of. We were SUPPOSED to pollute and use up the resources because God intended this and DUH when Jesus came back in a couple years he was going to destroy the old earth and make a new one anyway so everything would be fixed. If you tried to save the earth you just didn't have any faith. Once we also argued over his notion that the only purpose that trees served was asthetic.

But the one thing that really troubled Merle was that he was nearing thirty and had not found a wife. He was lonely. He even bought a mini-van because he so longed to fill it with Godly children. He tried visiting many different churches scouting out the single, young girls, but either they weren't interested in him, there weren't any young girls or they weren't Godly enough. Merle lamented that he might remain a virgin forever.

Finally though, we managed to find him a prospect who had a lot of potential. But first we had to break her out of Christian college.

(More later on this story. I have to go run some errands.)
Monday, January 26, 2009

Jade's Story - Who Wants to Marry a Billionaire

I haven't seen many girls as devastated as Jade after Rocco dumped her. She had to move herself and her daughter out of his big house and with nowhere else to go, she moved in to her adopted mom's townhouse. Jade quickly suffered a major downgrade in her lifestyle. It was like for a brief moment in her life, for once she'd finally gotten a break, like the Universe had given her a little tease and shown her what life was like on the other side. For a couple months Jade had known what it was like to be rich. And she liked it.

Jade got used to her new lifestyle quickly. She liked being blonde and kept. She liked that her Louis Vuitton purses were real and not some knockoffs from the flea market. Best of all she liked not having to work. But once Rocco got bored with her, she was right back where she started and it was very unfair.

She tried to make amends with her biological father. He was rich, but he didn't share with her and couldn't bond with her as a father should bond with his daughter. How could he? He never knew he had a daughter until one day a woman in her 20s showed up with a kid and made him late for his nightly visit to the Bubblegum Kittikat.

Jade started hanging around her dad's office more although they still weren't getting along that well. Her father's clients were some of the richest men in South Florida. I can't get into too many details but her father owns a business, completely legit, that provides certain very high end toys that rich men adore and are willing to spend unholy amounts of cash upon.

It was only a matter of time before one of her father's clients took a liking to the new South Florida version of Jade.

Sal was the sixty year old son of a ninety year old multi-billionaire. In sixty years Sal had never worked. He had raised his kids and had been divorced for a long time already so he spent most of his time boating, collecting expensive cars and motorcycles and buying and selling opulent mansions. He was bored and lonely and already had everything anyone could possibly ever come up with to want.

Jade began keeping him company. They got to be good friends and within a couple weeks he said he wanted to marry her. He bought her a nine carat, emerald cut diamond. It looked like an ice cube.

Jade got engaged right after I did. Well, engaged didn't seem like the right word for it. They'd known each other for a couple of weeks and then Sal took her to the jewelry store and bought her a ring. It wasn't exactly your traditional proposal. It seemed very unceremonial, and quite sudden to me. Afterwards they invited my family out for Mexican food so we could see her ring.

"Let me see your ring," Jade said after she'd blinded me with hers.

"You aren't going to like it," I said, "It's not big enough for you."

"Yeah, but at least someone you love gave you yours," she whispered.

I will never forget that.

A few weeks later Jade and Sal had bought a new, enormous waterfront mansion and had the most exlcusive (and biggest rip-off) decorating firm in town deck it out. Then they had a party and invited everyone over to see it. I have to admit that the house was absolutely, stunningly magnificent.

From then on Jade did nothing but shop. She had unlimited funds to buy whatever she wanted and she went wild. Sal bought her a Bentley and a Mercedes 550. She gave the girls at the Louis Vuitton store her number so that whenever they got in a new, limited edition bag they'd call her and she'd come and get it. Jade even decided to get a kinkajou because she heard that Paris Hilton had one. She added this to her menagerie of costly, tea cup puppies.

I went to Jade and Sal's wedding the following year. It was decadent, held in an exclusive country club. She looked absolutely gorgeous in her custom made gown, dripping in diamonds and I've never seen so many pink roses in my entire life. They even had their own fireworks display on the golf course, which was bigger and more involved that my town's annual Fourth of July event.

I didn't have a good time though. Jade's wedding pissed me off. It was a mockery of marriage. She laughed hysterically during their vows and then acted like she didn't want to kiss him. Her dad didn't even go. Sal's kids looked surly the whole time and there just wasn't any love there. The couple barely danced or even sat together during dinner. Jade was off laughing with some of her girlfriends most of the night while Sal sat and drank.

That was the last time I saw her. She gradually cut off contact with everyone she'd ever known before Sal.

I saw a mutual friend over the summer. I asked him if he'd heard from Jade.

"I saw her over the Spring," he said.

"What's she doing these days?" I asked.

"Oh you know. Being rich."

She may be rich but I don't think she'll ever be happy. I remember hearing somewhere that if you marry for money you earn every penny.
Sunday, January 25, 2009

Rocco's Women - What Became of Them

Someone asked me in the comments section what happened to all of Rocco's women once he died and I thought it would be interesting to answer that question.

Rocco's ex-wife Aurora finished school and moved to another city for her post-doctorate studies. When she finished, she moved back to South Florida and I hope she's practicing medicine. I don't know. Maybe she's courting another rich husband and maybe she's really supporting herself. Knowing Aurora, I speculate she's doing both. I hope she got help for her eating disorder, but I really don't know.

Joan moved away and no one ever heard from her again.

Anya has probably starved to death. A few years ago I saw her out a few times, each time with different men and she always acted like she didn't see me. I honestly don't know how someone could survive very long on her diet consisting of only tiny amounts of fruit. Even five years ago her health clearly suffered from it.

Mia, Rocco's 24 year old widow, is single and has moved back to South Florida. She had no ties here. She was from Texas, and her move has spawned several theories. Why would she come here? Lord knows there are plenty of rich old men who love whores in Dallas. She seemed to really like Los Angeles, the gold digging capital of the world. Mia would have been a hit in Las Vegas as well, so why South Florida? Some say Mia is putting the moves on Rocco's good friend and sometime business partner Juan Diamonte, who is married and has young children. Juan Diamonte is a porn king, convicted drug dealer and money launderer with numerous legal problems. He'd be a poor choice for sugar daddy, but Mia fell for Rocco, so obviously she'll fall for anything, which is a shame because she's a very pretty girl. She could do better than Juan's lazy eye and gouty ankles. I hope this rumor isn't true for the sake of Juan's wife and children.

My bet is that Mia has once again joined the work force. Scout out a few websites for local escorts and I'm sure you'll see her smiling coyly in a thong bikini with her long, black hair falling down her back. For five grand she'll fly to meet you anywhere. One of you, dear readers, if you could afford her, could her be her newest benefactor. But watch out, she's expensive.

But what about Jade? Jade surprisingly made out the best of all of Rocco's exes. Jade, who started out an innocent, single mom who just wanted a steady office job, a family and enough money to pay her rent, became the biggest gold digger of them all.

Because of that, she gets her own post.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Best of Times

For the past year or so I've heard so many people telling me that we live in the worst times in all of history. Many people I know, some of whom are related to me, really believe that we are living in the "End Times" prophesied in Revelations.

"Look how terrible things are," they say, "Wars, disasters, the economy, disease, racism and poverty."

Everywhere I go people are whining gloom and doom. The world is coming to an end. We're all going to die and not just die, but die painfully.

"I wish I could just go back in time," someone said to me recently.

This person wanted to go back in time to escape the horrors of the present.

"Not me," I said.

"Why? It was so much better in the past."

"Were you there?" I asked.

"No, of course not," they said, "But it was great in the olden days. Everything is awful now."

This person was wrong on both counts. It was neither better in the past, nor is everything awful now. You think things are bad now, go back in time and you'll see some bad.

We live in the best of times. The present time, right now, is the greatest and best time the human race has ever known and we are all lucky to be alive right here and right now. Stop for a moment to be thankful.

The past was horrible and the people who think the past was so much better are ignoring history and idealizing it, creating their own fairy-tale that never really existed.

Anyone who thinks that the present is the worst time in human history clearly skipped class the day they learned about the Civil War, or the Holocaust. Speaking in terms of only the United States the Civil War era wins hands down for the worst time in America. You couldn't pay me to go back there. My vote for worst time in the entire world is probably World War II. On one hand you've got calculated, organized genocide all over Europe. On the other hand you've got atomic bombs on Japan, but to be fair the Japanese weren't exactly angels back then either. Ask the Chinese about that. During the 30s and 40s we had unprecedented mass slaughter and destruction on a worldwide scale. I have no desire to go back to that.

"But what about all the wars now?" some ask.

This isn't a new thing. There have always been wars. War is terrible, but I think we have a lot less of it than we did in the past and that we now have better negotiating skills to try to avoid it. Countries also have more incentive than ever to resolve conflicts sensibly. I admit that there are wars now and there will probably be more, but I'm optimistic that there are fewer of them and that war will continue to decline in the future.

How about all the disasters? There have always been disasters, natural and otherwise. Because of information technology we now know about disasters sooner. We can watch disasters happening live (which we seem to love) and we can see the aftermath of a disaster immediately. In the past this wasn't possible so it just seemed like there were fewer of them. A hundred years ago if there was a tsunami in Asia we wouldn't know about it in America, nor would anyone here have cared. Hundreds of thousands of people would still be dead but we wouldn't have had pictures and video and interviews recounting the horrors. Now we know when something happens around the world and we actually care. Many might argue that seeing disasters live desensitizes us and that we exploit tragedy. Generally, I disagree. I think seeing it creates empathy and urgency. When we see something we can't deny it. Now, because of technology and advances in transportation we can go help people all over the world. Medical technology can save people who would have been left for dead years ago. We have helicopters to evacuate people, planes to fly in relief, doctors who can save and TVs to show us how bad things are so that we can empathize and then hopefully help. So yes, we still have all kinds of disasters and we always will, but now we're better equipped to deal and to help.

And what about all the technology that's been developed to help predict natural disasters? Even fifty years ago we'd have no idea when a hurricane was coming (or a blizzard if you live in the north). Now we have plenty of time to prepare. We can't predict everything, but I think we're working on that and with the technology we do have, lives are really saved.

But the economy!!!!!

The economy isn't at it's greatest right now. I know. However, I feel like this is a correction and that our economy was over-inflated and out of control and that maybe some good can come out of the financial problems we're dealing with right now. First of all, too many people got greedy and were living and operating businesses far above their means. We became too materialistic. I mean really, do we need so many malls and mega-stores or gigantic shopping centers at every highway exit, flanked by seventy-five chain restaurants all offering Tyrannosaurus sized portions of fatty, sugary food? No we do not. I'm sad when people lose jobs, but we don't need all of this consumerism and mass consumption polluting our world. It has killed the creativity, drive and spark in so many people. I'm glad to see a lot of it go. We all got spoiled. Too many of us fell for the illusion of power and grandeur created by the pursuit and acquisition of a bunch of meaningless junk. Scaling back will do us all some good. We'll get through it. Maybe we'll learn to stop valuing meaningless clutter. Perhaps we'll begin to help one another and we'll come to stop wanting and wanting and wanting and taking and taking and taking.

At times this past year I felt like everyone I knew was ill. I felt like disease was everywhere. I can't count the number of times I heard conversations about cancer and other devastating, horrible diseases. Yes, we have diseases. People get sick and die and suffer and it seems so unfair and when they're gone we miss them so much, but think, in the past, even in the recent past, it was so much worse. Had I lived even a hundred years ago I would likely have been dead already, from an illness that's not such a big deal now. Before my genetic condition even appeared to kill me I could have died as a child from malnutrition, polio, small pox and even measles. I may have succumbed to tuberculosis or likely died in childbirth. Think of the advances we've made in medicine. Maybe some of the people we've lost, we would have lost sooner or they would have died in greater suffering with less dignity. In the past, even the most privileged members of society died from things like typhoid and cholera which are now rare and which we have come to only associate with the most destitute, primitive and most poorly developed places in the world. Because of medical advances so many of us have been spared suffering. People with infertility can give birth. So few of us have lost a child, or several children from common viruses.

I'm thankful for psychology, which is such a new science that has saved and improved so many lives. I wouldn't want to live in a world where the mentally ill were tortured, abused, misunderstood or said to be demon possessed. Now we have medications, therapies and just plain understanding for the mentally ill and think of the multitudes of people who can live functioning lives, contributing to society because of drugs and treatment instead of being locked, raving in attics to die in pain.

I like that as a woman that I have options in life and that I can make choices about what I want to do. I'm thrilled that women are allowed to understand their own bodies and how they work and talk openly about them without shame. I'm glad my father and husband never saw me as property and that it isn't legal for my husband to beat me. How great is it that I've been raised in a society that produced a man like my husband who would never dream of not contributing to the housework?

My mother, who is very young, can vividly remember the race riots burning even in small towns across America in the 60s. She remembers segregation, colored water fountains, lynch mobs and a world where black people and white people did not mix. I'm thankful that this is incomprehensible to me. For race issues alone, I am grateful to be alive now. I can't fathom that centuries ago one race of people thought it was acceptable to enslave another and to create, perpetuate and believe in a lasting mythology that said a group of people from another place, who looked and believed differently, were not human beings. And then they fought a war to preserve it! That is horror. Anti-miscegenation laws were horror. The way that even forty and fifty years ago it was socially acceptable to taunt, tease and terrorize, to caricaturize and infantalize men and women of different races, cultures, orientations and abilities is a horror.

We still have war, disasters natural and man-made. We still will have racism, disease and poverty, but in every area we have improved and we're continuing to improve. The time we live in now is truly the best time and we are all lucky to have been born when we were.

There are many serious and often overwhelming problems in our country and in the world. There are issues that frustrate me and worry me. I'm afraid of a lot, but I'm optimistic. Change takes a long time. It takes generations to alter mindsets and it happens bit by bit. Often we will stride forward and then slip back a little but eventually we get there. It's hard not to be impatient because we want it all now. We want it so badly. I know I do. There's a lot I'd like to be different even in my optimism. I also know that we can't always put a time limit on change and that Moses never made it to the promised land. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. couldn't live to see the inauguration of a black president. It's a sacrifice we have to make. Our ancestors sacrificed for us and each generation must take responsibility for its descendents. Don't give up on fighting for change just because you think you won't be around to see it or that it will never happen. It will.

There is one thing that I believe above all others and it is this. That everything is going to be ok and that really, it is more ok than we realize right now.

Looking forward at all the problems we face, the solutions may seem insurmountable or impossible. They aren't. When you look ahead, like a little kid on a road trip asking repeatedly if we're there yet, it seems like we've got forever left to go. Looking back though, you can see how far we've come.

We have come so far.

Inauguration Day

Today my husband said it feels like the opposite of September 11th. I kind of like that.

(I'll write more later if I can.)
Monday, January 19, 2009

Rocco's Demise (Part 4)

Rocco lied to Mia. He outright lied, lied by omission and stretched the truth to get her to leave her pimping husband and her lavish lifestyle. She believed he was far wealthier than he was.

By the time my parents rekindled their friendship with Rocco he had sold his house and was renting an extremely posh apartment that was bigger than any house I've ever lived in. It was new construction, overlooked a canal and a bridge and was just off our city's fanciest street. The place was impressive and Mia moved right in. Together they decorated and bought furniture for their new home. Mia stopped working and spent her days at the most expensive pilates studio in town. When she wasn't at pilates, getting her nails done (she went twice a week for manicures and once for pedicures), getting her hair done or tanning she shopped. Every exclusive boutique in town knew her name. When she wasn't out shopping she shopped online. The girl did nothing but indulge herself. She couldn't even clean. They hired my parents' housekeeper to keep everything in the apartment tidy. Mia never lifted a finger unless it was to pull out Rocco's credit card.

Mia believed she had achieved every whore's dream. She was with a powerful billionaire, because that's what Rocco had led her to believe. She imagined herself as "Pretty Woman" come to life. They all want that, don't they? She thought the money would never run out. The truth was, it probably already had.

Rocco's divorce from Aurora set him back. He continued to support her in her own posh apartment on the beach, payed for her education, living expenses and gave her extra to spend. Out of everyone Aurora deserved it more than anyone because she had actually been with him for eight years and had been married to him for about seven. The money he gave her was court ordered. He gave Joan money to get rid of her, setting her up in Orlando and giving her money for some trade school she wanted to go to. Add to that his constant partying, shopping, whoring and eating and the money had dwindled considerably. Then he lost money on the sale of his house, which he said he wanted to get rid of because of bad memories. He and Aurora had built it together.

Business wasn't great either. Upon googling him, I discovered that Rocco had set up some corporations in his name, but to my knowledge (and I could be wrong) he didn't exactly have a "real" business. From my own peripheral observations I concluded that he made money by getting himself involved in a bunch of two bit schemes and most likely a lot of illegal activity. I repeat. I did not want to know and I still don't.

My sister and I were terrified of him. Both of us separately feared that one day he'd get pissed at our parents again and have his goons kidnap us and either hold us for ransom or murder us. I expressed my fear to my sister one day.

"Oh my God," she said, "I think the same exact thing."

I'm not making light of this. I watched my back a lot when Rocco was alive.

He and Mia started taking brief, sudden trips to Curacao. I thought they were going on vacation and suggested St. Lucia for next time.

"I got a friend in Curacao," Rocco told me.

He said he was going for business not vacation. What kind of business could he have had in Curacao?

Once, at his apartment I saw that he had also gone to Venezuela. I noticed some used boarding passes in a pile of papers. I dismissed it. It wasn't my concern.

For a few months, my parents and Rocco were as close as ever, which irritated me because he was there with Mia at every event. I came to despise this girl. I genuinely liked Aurora and Jade. Joan wasn't much of an issue because I think I was only around her maybe two or three times. Mia was a different story. She had a sneering smile and I knew the girl was a snake. I knew she was a manipulator and it annoyed me to no end to watch her taking and taking and taking without ever giving back. Aurora gave back some. So did Jade. I don't know about Joan, but Mia took shamelessly and had such an entitled attitude for such a young and undeserving girl. She was also shallow, unbelievably materialistic and vain. Did I mention stupid? She was stupid.

"Don't you get bored all day, never working or going to school or anything?" I once asked her.

"I don't know. I have to be available for Rocco when he needs to travel or go somewhere. I don't like working. I could never have, like, a job or something," she said.

"But aren't your days boring?"

"Maybe," she said, "But what else is there to do?"

"You've certainly had an interesting life. You could write."

"No, you do that. I can't."

"How about read?"

"I thought about it but then I was like, uggh, I'd have to hold up the book and all."

I am not making this up. This was an actual conversation. I am not kidding. I wondered what she did on planes. And how did this whore do pilates when she was too lazy to hold up a damned book? Maybe she entertained herself by gazing at her Tory Burch flats.

At one point I just stopped even trying to be nice to her. Whenever I was around her I made catty remarks in regard to her laziness, materialism and all around dumb-assedness, until my mother got mad at me and told me to leave her alone.

A month later my parents and Rocco had another big blow up and Rocco left town for Los Angeles, suddenly breaking the lease in his posh, waterfront apartment.

"Rocco's broke," my parents said.

He was in big trouble too. Apparently Rocco had some major legal problems. Additionally, he had screwed a lot of people out of a lot of money and had gotten other people in trouble too. He played a lot of mind games with people and for no real reason it seemed, except cruelty. He just enjoyed it. I won't get into the details here and most of the details I really don't know, but with my parents it came down to an issue of trust and repeatedly he had broken their trust and repeatedly they had given him more and more chances.

"I thought he just didn't know how to love," my mother said, "He never had a real family. I thought if I showed him what it was like to forgive and to stick by somebody that maybe he'd learn. I felt sorry for him, but in the end he just didn't know how to relate to people. He was a sick, sick man. Evil."

Through mutual friends we heard that Rocco and Mia got married. Rocco was in business out in LA with another guy, Theo, who my parents knew and he borrowed a huge sum of money from the Theo, whom Rocco had really conned.

A little while later Theo explained that Mia's shopping was really out of control. Unleashed onto Rodeo Drive she went completely wild, but Rocco was totally broke. He couldn't tell Mia to stop shopping (their whole relationship was based on her ability to shop after all) so Rocco went to Theo and begged him to pay his American Express bill until Rocco got on his feet again. Why Theo did this I will never know. Mia had spent over $70,000.00 within just a few weeks of being in town. Rocco then spent all of the money Theo had loaned him, supposedly for a business venture, on Mia.

One day Theo's wife Sara got fed up and confronted Mia, telling her that she needed to stop spending Theo's money.

"What are you talking about? It's Rocco's," Mia said.

Theo told us that his wife explained everything to Mia.

By then Rocco's problems were adding up. He faced years in prison for things he'd done. One of his business partners was already convicted and sentenced.

This was last Fall when my parents also suddenly decided to move to Los Angeles. They had nothing to do with Rocco, but he called and texted a lot. My dad ignored him.

Finally, last Christmas while I was visiting in California, Rocco convinced my parents to meet him in a hotel lobby. I didn't go and they were gone for a long time. When they came back they said Rocco had been crying and was making no sense. He'd always had a bad stutter, but now it seemed more pronounced. They said he was a mess. It was probably all the stress. The friendship ended permanently at that point and Rocco was no longer a part of their lives. The meeting in the hotel was closure.

Last winter my dad told me he heard that Rocco was dying.

"They don't know what's wrong with him supposedly," he said.

No one believed it. We thought he was making it up to get sympathy or to get out of legal proceedings, but as the year went on people kept talking about it.

"Rocco has ALS," some said.

No one had seen him in months. He just disappeared. Last summer we heard that Mia had taken Rocco and put him in a nursing home in Texas where she was originally from.

A few days into our trip this Christmas my husband called and asked if we'd heard the news.

"Rocco died yesterday," he said.

I couldn't believe it. My husband had heard from a friend of my parents who was in town while we were away.

All of Rocco's friends were in Florida and Mia called everyone and told them not to come to the funeral. They were going to cremate him quickly, have a small service in Texas for her and then she was moving back to South Florida by Christmas. After New Year's they would have a "Celebration of Life" for everyone here.

I admit that I watch too much Dateline. I admit that my imagination is at times, out of control, but the first thing that came to mind is that Rocco wasn't really dead. If anyone in this world had the reason and the resources to fake his own death it was certainly Rocco Boccaforte. Maybe at this very moment his loud mouth is screaming orders at a waiter in Curacao for more rum in his daiquiri. Maybe he's in South America somewhere.

My other Dateline scenario is that Mia poisoned him, though she's probably too stupid.

Rocco supposedly had ALS, but a year ago when my parents met him in the hotel, aside from being an emotional wreck, Rocco was fine. I researched the disease and people often can live several years. Stephen Hawking has had ALS for 40 years. Usually it's five to ten years of decline before death. I read Tuesdays With Morrie. Morrie had ALS for a while before he had to quit teaching and start telling Mitch his life story. None of the literature that I read about the illness said that it can kill you in eleven months. Of course it's possible that he had it longer, but he never showed any symptoms. The only possible symptom was that he was crying at the hotel, but it was an emotional meeting, so it didn't seem unusual. Sometimes ALS patients can cry uncontrollably. I just have a nagging, pinching little gut feeling that something is up, that Rocco isn't dead or that he didn't really have ALS.

"No one credible ever saw the body," my dad's friend wrote in a recent email.

(Later I'll wrap up and let you know what happened to Rocco's ladies. That's a story in and of itself.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Rocco 3

Around the time Joan moved in with Rocco, my parents did too.

We had been through two hurricanes in a row and my parents had sold their house, Casa Azul, for a house that was being built. The new house's construction got delayed because of the hurricanes that wouldn't give us a break. My parents got stuck in a nightmare situation where the closing date for Casa Azul came, but the new house Casa dei Sogni wouldn't be ready for several months. They were left homeless, so they moved in with Rocco who had just kicked out Jade and replaced her with Joan the prostitute he met online.

Joan was a petite blonde in her late 20s. She had a snub nose, a pretty but boring face and the personality of an oyster on the halfshell. I couldn't stand her. I thought she was a total idiot. My mother didn't like her either and didn't particularly enjoy having to live with her, but she really had no choice. At first my parents thought they'd only be crashing at Rocco's house for a couple weeks, but the builder kept delaying and it turned into several months. I hardly ever saw my family during this time because Rocco's house was pretty far west and I live east. I was busy with school and work all the time.

Joan had no interest in the whole family scene. She was all about partying and drugs. She especially liked shopping. She was your standard, dumb-ass, South Florida gold digging whore. Some of these girls are interesting, but Joan, with her old lady name, was unbearably dull to be around and she always seemed vaguely pissed off about something.

While Joan was shacking up with Rocco, he also began an affair with another one of South Florida's most notorious skanks, Anya Kalashnikov. Anya Kalashnikov is a pro. Imported from Russia she is absolutely shameless when it comes to whoring and gold-digging. I've seen her out and around several times in the past few years and she's always with a different rich, trashy guy. She's also totally out of her mind insane. Anya has an interesting angle with which she lures in men. She plays innocent and acts like she's a poor Russian student just struggling to get by and that she's really a good girl. The truth is that she's a hooker and a nasty one at that. Anya looks like she'd give you a blister, which confuses me because the girl is not attractive. This just proves that most men just don't see women the same way other women do.

We (and Rocco) first met Anya because another one of my parents friends believed that she was his girlfriend. He was also 20 plus years older than she was and was sucked in by her sob story about being a struggling student. He said she was wild in bed and that he'd never encountered anything like her. I got stuck having to talk to her on several occasions at various dinners and get-togethers and I instantly was on to her con. Plus I can just spot the crazy. I have crazy radar.

Anya had a worse eating disorder than Aurora. At least Aurora ate a half a piece of chicken and the occasional cube of watermelon. Anya pretty much didn't eat at all. She was a good five nine and weighed barely over 80 pounds. She looked concentration camp. Her skin was yellow. Her face was drawn, her gums swollen and she was covered in a layer of white downy hairs which happens when you've been starved for a long time. She also gave off a terrible, strange odor that I've smelled before on vegans, raw foodists and/ or anorexics. I can't describe it but the smell makes me gag and seems the antithesis of health and beauty to me. I think maybe if she gained about forty pounds Anya might have been pretty. She had high, Russian cheekbones, slanted green eyes and full lips. She had light brown hair to her waist that men went crazy over. I always wanted to take the scissors to it because to me it looked ratty. Everytime we were with her people would always make a big fuss over trying to get Anya to eat something and I swear, I think she enjoyed the attention.

She was a fruitarian or some such foolishness. She only ate fruit. But barely. Mostly she fasted and just sipped water. Sometimes she'd eat nothing but grapes or bananas and only very tiny amounts at a time. Then she'd decide the fruit was fattening from the sugar and complain that it bloated her and fast on water again. I honestly don't know how she survived. At restaurants she'd order a fruit plate for dinner and then poke at it and push it all around and not eat it. Once I saw her eat a strawberry. I congratulated her.

"I shouldn't eat this. So fattening. I'm going to blow up," she said.

From a strawberry.

"Food makes me feel so dirty," she'd say.

Yeah, but all that whoring around didn't? Go figure. Once I asked her what she would do if she were my size and she said she'd kill herself.

"You are killing yourself," I said.

The irony was lost on her.

Rocco had a big, Italian dinner at his house and my parents' friend, Anya's boyfriend brought her along. Once she got a look at Rocco's house she made her move, stalking Rocco online behind her boyfriend's back. They talked dirty on Instant Messenger and then started setting up clandestine rendezvous behind Joan's and Anya's boyfriend's back. My mom caught them on several occasions.

This added to the tension already in the house. Things just weren't working out with the living arrangements. Finally in Spring of 2005 my parents moved into Casa dei Sogni and out of Rocco's place. Shortly thereafter there was a big falling out. I got married that Fall and Rocco didn't come although he was kind enough to send us a generous wedding gift. He didn't have to do that and I really appreciated it. In fact, he was always very generous with me.

"You're a good kid. You're not like the rest of us," he said, "You got a good head on your shoulders. You don't take any shit."

Some time passed. A year or so. We learned that Rocco dumped Joan and she moved to Orlando or somewhere. My parents tried to repair their friendship with Rocco. They gave it another chance. That's when we met Mia, his latest. Rocco had met another prostitute online. This one charged five thousand a pop. She was one of those Elliot Spitzer kind of escorts who flew all over the place to service the wealthy and powerful. She was whoring to support her husband. Yes, really.

Maybe Rocco promised her a way out. Maybe he talked a good talk and she saw a way out. She filed for divorce and moved in with Rocco. She was very young. I think she was barely 24, maybe less. I remember Mia was younger than my sister.

Mia was bone thin with watermelon sized implants. She had long, black hair, straightened with a flat-iron, olive skin and black eyes.

"I'm not a Mexican," she always said, "I'm only half. My dad was a Mexican, but I'm white. I'm not a Hispanic."

Mia hated where she came from. All she wanted was to be rich and white and a trophy wife.

She ended up getting her wish, but she should have been careful what she wished for.

(To be continued..)

Rocco Boccaforte, Part 2

"My mother died when I was a kid," Rocco told me, "She hated me."

Rocco's mother, by his account, took so many diet pills that she died of kidney failure. She had been abusive, violent and cruel for his whole life and he always felt she didn't love him. Her brother, Rocco's uncle, was a prolific murderer, so it wasn't hard to believe that maybe evil just ran in that family. When she died Rocco said he blew up and when he was nineteen he weighed over 500 pounds.

I think he might have worked for his uncle and cousins back then. It could have been that he wanted to work for his uncle and cousins more than he actually did - that he wanted to latch on to their notoriety, their mob-movie, dark glamour. Maybe it would have made him feel like someone powerful. Maybe it did. There are some things I just try to avoid knowing. I have a limit when it comes to a story I guess. I stop asking at a certain point and I never asked about where Rocco got his money or his association with his family. It was kind of like how I stopped watching "The Sopranos" after a couple seasons because it got too visceral for me.

His relationship with his mother and her death when he was so young obviously affected the way he related to women. Aurora wasn't his first wife. I think she actually may have been his third wife and he had a pre-teen daughter who lived with her mother in another state. Aurora didn't want kids because they'd ruin her body.

It seemed like Aurora's leaving hurt him. It hurt him so much that within two weeks he had moved in his new girlfriend.

I still remember the first night we went out to dinner. I was shocked.

"Rocco's dating Jade," my mother told me.

"Get out," I said, "No way."

I knew Jade and she just didn't seem like Rocco's type and for that matter he didn't seem like her type. It was a bizarre pairing.

Jade was a couple years younger than me. She lived in our old neighborhood and was a single mom. Her daughter was the same age as Rocco's daughter. She was tall and pretty, but plain. She wasn't like the glitzy gold diggers we have around here with the fake tans and suitcase sized purses. Jade was a jeans and tee shirts kind of girl; quiet, shy and a little unsure of herself. She was pale, with long, straight dark hair and had an exotic, Native American look to her. We knew her from the neighborhood and when she lived by us her boyfriend was a soldier for a local mob boss who I just heard is in prison where he belongs.

I knew Jade's birth father. She had been adopted by a family in the Southwest, but traced her birthparents back to South Florida and came looking for them. Her birth mother was a spiteful woman who wanted no contact with her. Her father was only a little better. He was a thug, but a rich thug. I knew him because he was a regular at the Bubblegum Kittikat. The strippers loved him because he threw money at everyone and drank to oblivion. I think he was a disappointment. I think when her adopted father died she was looking to restore a sense of family. She wanted a dad to protect her and her birth father just couldn't fit that role for her. She worked for him for a little while and then they had a falling out, leaving her feeling the loss of yet another parent again. Around the same time she broke up with her boyfriend. Single and jobless, my dad hired her to do some work for him, which is how she met Rocco, who was a good 2o something years older than her. Two weeks later they were living together. Aurora hadn't even moved out all of her things.

I think I understand Jade's attraction somewhat. It was a daddy issue, a security thing. He could take care of her and her daughter and they'd been struggling for years. She was tired of worrying. Plus, Rocco may have been morbidly obese, but he was handsome under it all. He looked like an eagle. He had silvering hair growing back from his forehead in a widow's peak, sharply arched black brows and narrow eyes with a long, straight nose. In pictures of his uncle I can see a strong resemblance. I often wondered why he didn't get a gastric bypass. He would have been stunning had he been at a healthier weight. As it was he sweat and wheezed all the time and he was always sick with something, which I attributed partly to pills and liquor and too many late nights partying. He partied like a high school kid although he was fifty.

Jade changed fast. Rocco wanted her blonde, so she changed her hair. Within a month she looked like every other young girl with an old man down here. She had a massive fake rack, a Juicy Couture sweatsuit and a special edition Louis bag. She developed a taste for shopping, which Rocco indulged. The problem was that she wouldn't party with him. Jade was reserved and just wanted a family. She loved that their daughters were the same age and she liked living in his nice house. The cocaine and stripper lifestyle wasn't for her. Rocco probably would have had a better time hanging out with Jade's dad instead of her.

Pretty soon her dumped her and kicked her out. For a prostitute. That he met online. Her name was Joan. She loved Dior.

(more Rocco later)
Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rocco Boccaforte

I've wanted to write about Rocco Boccaforte for years. Every time I would decide to write about him once and for all something would stop me. Often it was the fear that he would put a contract out on me if he ever found out. Other times it just didn't seem like the story was over quite yet, but now it is and now I'm going to write about him.

Last weekend a "Celebration of Life" was held at a local steakhouse popular with our nouveau riche high rollers. It was Rocco's favorite restaurant when he was in town. He liked to go there to be seen. I didn't go to the party and neither did my parents. We weren't invited and wouldn't have been welcome. When he died he wasn't on good terms with my parents, though at one point they'd been very close.

I don't know where my parents met Rocco. It's hard to say with them, when and where and how they acquire people. Most of my parents' friendships are often sudden, intense, all consuming relationships. They seem to come out of nowhere and then, at once, it's as if they've always known someone; that life without the friend is inconceivable. Then, something will happen and the person will be gone from their lives entirely. It's been like this my whole life and I can't really speculate on why they have these intense, often brief friendships. I can only say that there is a definite and extensive pattern and that Rocco was a part of it. By the point Rocco arrived, loudly and extravagantly, into my parents' lives I was used to this. I knew his presence would be short lived. I knew not to ask questions about where people came from or what happened when they disappeared. I don't care. I don't get attached to my parents' friends and I don't want to get involved.

And, because I know my mother is reading this, it's important to add that not all of their friendships are like this. They do have friends they've known for many years and will know for many more. Good friends. Kind friends. Loyal friends. It's just that there are always the people who suddenly explode on their scene and burn out just as quickly. These friendships, Rocco's especially, seem like the friendships between middle school girls - wildly passionate, hedonistic, full of power plays, issues of loyalty, betrayals. The drama is the same as that of eight graders, only here there's more at stake. Usually it's large amounts of cash attached to dreams of even more. Often, money destroys everything. Maybe that's what happened with Rocco. I don't want to know. Ultimately I think Rocco was a sick, sad person and that's what really ended things.

I think my parents met Rocco in 2002, but that's an estimate. It might have been earlier than that. Perhaps he was the friend of a friend. Maybe someone recommended him for a deal. Maybe they just met him one night out in a swanky Italian restaurant and shared a few bottles a wine. It doesn't matter.

I could understand their attraction to him. Rocco was huge. Everything about him was enormous. Tall, unapologetically obese, Rocco shouted instead of spoke. He was outrageously decadent, attention getting and gregarious. His appetite for everything - food, drink, whores, money - was insatiable. He was a living tall tale and he was screamingly funny, partying like a rock star. He washed down pills with bottles of Patron, then inhaled tureens of stewed tripe, platters of penne alla vodka, loaves soaked in olive oil.

"One day I'll find myself writing about this man, " I said the first day I met him.

"Sweetheart, you're gonna write about me. I know it. You could write a frickin' book about me. Just wait 'til I'm dead," he'd say to me.

When he called me "sweetheart" it sounded like "sweet-hot." Rocco was from Brooklyn.

He claimed his mother was the sister of one of the most notorious mobsters of all time. He prided himself on his crime-family lineage, but pretended to keep it secret, only revealing his heritage to his closest friends, but really, he told everyone. Everyone knew. I don't know if this was true. I've become so jaded living in South Florida. I've heard people come up with so many stories about who they are or were or want to be that I've come to just assume that everything I hear is bullshit until someone proves me wrong. I need to see it to believe it. I never saw it with Rocco, but I watched it every Sunday on "The Sopranos." I thought Rocco watched too much TV and had delusions of Satriale's Pork. But maybe it was all true.

In a house with gold fixtures and faux finishes, Rocco lived in a suburban gated community. It was full of wide lawns and narrow minds. You know. It's the kind of place where fifty year old men like Rocco drove slowly behind their twenty year old trophy wives as they jog, to make sure the girls are really out jogging and not blowing the guy across the street. The one who made all his money on a pyramid scheme.

Aurora Boccaforte had been married to Rocco since she was in her early twenties. When I met her she was 28 and miserable, having just finished her undergrad at a local university. She was a sickly size zero, over tanned and looked at least ten years older than she was. No amount of bronzer could cover her grey complexion. I soon learned that she had suffered from bulimia for so long that she'd lost her top, front teeth and had implants that kept falling out from bone loss. She lived on vodka and diet tonics and a half a plain, grilled chicken breast a day, but she dressed beautifully in all couture. I used to call her Carrie Bradshaw because of her outfits, always with five inch Manolos, the toes of which could stab straight through a sternum. She looked like Brittany Murphy at her most wan and blonde.

It was obvious that these two were not a couple in love. They were a business deal. Aurora was different from every other gold digger I had ever met though and for this, I really liked her. Aurora was smart, genuinely so and she made the most brilliant move I've ever seen out of a trophy wife. She used her husband's money to get herself an education. She had enough sense to know that when she got old enough, Rocco would drop her for someone younger and hotter. She knew they were only in business temporarily and that she needed to secure her future and that she wanted to be independent. Now, Aurora is a doctor.

I really didn't want to like her, but I could have an actual conversation with her. We were the same age. She was actually nice and she wasn't a dumbass, although she obviously had her share of dysfunction. She had a messed up family, but then again, who doesn't?

I knew something was up when she asked me if I could have anything for my birthday what would it be.

"A Kitchen Aid stand up mixer," I said.

Two weeks later she bought it for me. Then she went to New York and brought me back a Kate Spade purse. I thought the extravagant gifts were odd but they were nothing compared to what she was buying for herself. I heard that she had spent almost two hundred thousand dollars in two months. Soon after she and Rocco were over. Aurora had her own apartment on the beach. I had my purse and mixer. Rocco told us that Aurora ran off with her trainer, a rich Jewish boy from my former place of employment, who was supported by his parents while he spent his days in the gym.

Two weeks later Rocco had someone else too. He couldn't be alone.

(more to come on this story...)
Monday, January 12, 2009
I'm going through a period of adjustment - in a good way. I've scaled back my schedule so that I only teach two days a week. This frees up the rest of my time to write, work on my thesis, work on another big project I've undertaken and to finally clean my house. This is really nice. I almost don't even know what to do with myself because for so long I've been going and going and going like a maniac and now I don't really have to do that. Of course I'm not the kind of person to sit around on my ass all day (except when I'm writing), so I've gotten myself involved in all sorts of exciting things now that I can.

I thought that this year we would be moving. I knew this would be the year that I would get out of South Florida once and for all and that I would finally get to move to a city with real trees and seasons and possibly, if I were very lucky, a Trader Joes. Last week I learned that this would not be the case. I'm not moving out of South Florida. It seems the Universe wants me here. It's like a jail sentence and I haven't finished serving my time. But I don't want to think of it that way. I have a lot of really good friends here. While we don't have a Trader Joes we do have IKEA. I can walk on the beach in January and we have fresh produce in winter. In fact, I actually really like the winter down here a lot, so I can't complain right now. Give me until about May before I really start bitching. I hate our summers. Damned hurricane season. But there are really good things about living in South Florida. At least I don't have to change the name of my blog. This title definitely wouldn't work in San Francisco.

Another good thing about the new developments is that Husband and I will be able to travel a lot more, so we can visit other climates. We can see our distant families more. I made Husband promise to take me to Maine for a week this summer because, as some of you might remember, that is my lifelong dream. I've wanted to go to Maine for years. I really need to see a place with that many lobsters and blueberries (my two favorite foods). So, it's a good thing that we're not moving. Everything is going to be ok.

In other news, something is not ok at all.

I have a cold sore.

How the hell did I get a cold sore????? This sucks. I don't know where this damned thing came from. I honestly don't. I haven't had a cold sore since 2003. That's almost six years.

I feel like a pariah; contaminated and dirty. When I have a cold sore I feel like other people look at me and imagine me sucking some dirty dick in an alley for five dollars. I know when people see the sore they imagine that I have sores all over my crotch too and that they make moral judgments about me. The truth is, I don't have sores anywhere else. I am not a two bit street walker. I've had cold sores since I was little and luckily I never had them with much frequency. But eww, I just feel so gross. And yes, I'm taking lysine and Zovirax for it and it seems to be going away very quickly. thank the blessed Lord.

The cold sore made me lips swell up and I took a look at myself, a little squinty so I blurred out the oozing sore, and I thought I looked pretty good with unusually plumped up lips. I could almost be Angelina Jolie. Almost. If only I could get my lips to swell a little without a crusty yellow scab and leaking blisters, then I'd be set.

I'm dreading teaching tomorrow with this thing on my face. I've got a difficult crop of students this semester. I haven't bonded with them just yet and I have a couple of smart asses who are dead set on trying to get to me and fluster me as I teach. Last week they told me that I reminded them of Tina Fey as the math teacher in "Mean Girls." Now I love Tina Fey. You have no idea how I love Tina Fey. I think she's brilliant and gorgeous and she's one of my writing idols. So I could take this as a compliment. The students didn't mean it as a compliment though. They meant it as that I was goofy, nerdy and spazzy. But hey, she won two Golden Globes last night for being goofy, nerdy and spazzy so I think I'll just take it as a compliment anyway. I don't even want to imagine what they're going to say about my cold sore. Pray for me readers.

Oh, and they also wanted me to tell them what it was like in the 80s. Way to make someone feel old as hell.

But don't worry. Give me a month and I'll either win them over or scare the crap out of them so they behave. I'm guessing I'll win them over.
Friday, January 09, 2009

The Times Traveler's Downstairs Neighbor

The guy in the apartment above me is back. He had been gone for several months. A year or more perhaps. Now he's back. I know this because I can hear every single thing he does.

Upstairs guy moved in around the same time that I did. He's a cute, young guy. He's really into sports and loves Boston teams. I know this because on the night when Boston beat the Yankees to finally make it to the World Series I honestly thought he was going to come through the ceiling. The same thing happened when the Patriots won. The ceiling fan in my living room trembled precariously on game days.

At first he had a girlfriend. I know this because I was privy to every intimate moment they shared. And there were many. Let's just say this couple had a lot of stamina. The noises coming from the bedroom above me were honestly frightening. There was a lot of banging and slamming and Upstairs Guy has a very rickety bed. I used to watch the girl leave when they were done. I did this to make sure that she was ok and that there wasn't a trail of blood behind her or that she was dragging a limb. I figured I should look out for her and call 911 if she looked in need of medical assistance after six straight hours of what sounded like extremely violent sex. She always looked fine. She was a tiny girl who drove a BMW. She looked like a ballerina and never so much as limped or walked bow-legged, which is surprising to me because if I had been turned inside out for as long as she had I would need at the very least, a good Chiropractor.

It wasn't just me who found Upstairs Guy's sexual habits impressive. It's not like I'm so innocent prude who is shocked at every creaking mattress. No. This was serious marathon fucking the likes of which I have never heard. Once I was out of town and I let my cousin Stu stay in my place while I was away. Stu called me and asked me what was up with the guy above me and I explained.

"Dude for real. He was going to town hardcore up there for at least 2 1/2 hours. I've never heard anything like it," Stu said.

"Oh I know. I know," I replied.

Trust me. Stu knows his way around the bed. The ladies love him, so if he was impressed, you can rest assured that Upstairs Guy was really accomplishing something unusual up there.

But then the girlfriend disappeared. I feared that maybe Upstairs Guy had drilled her into the box spring, but her car was gone, so I guess they broke up.

I began to hear other strange noises upstairs. It sounded like he was building something in the apartment above mine. Too often it sounded like marbles were rolling across his bamboo floors. Many times I heard what sounded like screws and ball bearings being dropped accidentally, bouncing and rolling a short distance. The noises happened at very odd hours.

One day I ran into Upstairs Guy and asked him what he was doing up there.

"Building something," he said.

"Ahh, I thought so. What are you building?"

"A time machine," he replied, deadpan.

"I see."

I let it go. A time machine, eh? Well, that's pretty cool. I certainly can't fault a guy for building a time machine in his two bedroom condo, now can I? If I could build a time machine you bet your ass I'd be rolling screws across my floors too. Who wouldn't want a time machine?

After that whenever I heard all the racket up there I would just smile to myself and think about where I would go if I could time travel. The answer is not very far. I probably wouldn't want to go earlier than about 1920 and I'd make sure I had all my vaccines. As great as the past sounds when we romanticize it, it really wasn't. We live in the best times right now. Trust me on this one. And I have zero interest in seeing any dinosaurs.

Suddenly upstairs guy disappeared. I figured he'd finished the time machine and was off time traveling. I hoped that he visited a particularly free and hedonistic era and that he remembered to take syphilis medicine with him.

But now the time traveler has returned from wherever he's been for a very long time and again I'm hearing the same building sounds, the same rolling screws. Maybe the time machine needed repairs? Perhaps it was time for an upgrade?
Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A Fitness Update

Wow! Thank you so much for all of your advice and comments. You definitely got me out of my rut and I knew if I had all these people reading and commenting that I was going to have to follow through. When you put something in writing and hundreds of people read it, you have to be accountable, and that's partly why I did it.

So the least I could do was let you all know how it's going.

Today I took a beginning Pilates class! I took it instead of yoga because the place that I can afford, which is also for beginners, only had Pilates today. Close enough I figured and I was right.

There were about six people in the class and two teachers. One teacher taught and the other came around and helped people who were having trouble. That translates to : the other teacher pretty much spent the entire class helping me. The class was just your average, friendly chubby older ladies. There were no Gwyneth Paltrows arching themselves effortlessly like swans and I loved it. The class was great and I felt energized and flexible and in a really good mood after it was over. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Most of all I did something that was really far out of my comfort zone. I began getting over a really stupid fear and did something great for myself.

And I didn't fart.

Thanks readers. Never underestimate the support and encouragement of total strangers and if you all ever need a pep talk from me I'd be happy to give you one in return. Just email me.
Monday, January 05, 2009

Man O War and Coconut - A Still Life

Some Weird Only In South Florida Stuff

Yesterday I went for a long walk on the beach, because I can do that in January. I noticed the purple flags were up, indicating "Dangerous Marine Life." I wondered what that meant and I soon found out. There were hundreds and thousands of Man O Wars washed up all over the beach. They're the strangest looking things - like blue plastic bottles or inflated blue condoms is really more like it. They almost don't look like something created by nature, but they are, and they can be dangerous even when they're dead, if you step on their tentacles. Yuck. Only in South Florida, I swear.

Internet, Kick My Ass

Dear Readers, I'm in some kind of a funk and I don't like it. I feel like my vacation passed too quickly and like I wasted too much of it. I feel like I should have done more, but at the same time like I have no energy. I'm just coming down from a massive auto-immune flare up so the fatigue is probably that, but I feel like I should be feeling better than I am and not so damned tired.

Truthfully, I feel kind of depressed. It's like a post-holiday blues maybe. Probably it's because my holidays were fairly disappointing this year, except New Years Day which was quite nice. I cooked and we had all the right foods (ham, black eyed peas, collard greens and red velvet cake) so 09 should be better than 08 where I didn't get any of those necessary things to eat on New Year's Day. But still.

This is the time when all of the bloggers in the Universe talk about their New Year's Resolutions and it kills me to be like everyone else, but I will let you all in on two things. One, I swear I have officially given up capri pants. Capri pants and I are finished. They aren dated, mom-ish and unflattering on me. They make my legs look funny. Capri pants are not cute on me, yet for years I've clung to them. No more. There will be no capri pants in 2009.

The other one I need some help with. Basically, I need a gigantic ass kicking and I hope you all will assist in its administering. In 2009 I will get over one of my biggest, irrational phobias. I've been procrastinating doing this forever because I'm so afraid.

Readers, Yoga terrifies me.

I love yoga. I love the clothes and incense and sexy instructors. I especially love its exotic, partly spiritual/ partly movie-starish allure. I love the whole idea of yoga more than you can imagine and I have spent many an hour imagining myself twisted into a human pretzel, achieving both elightenment and flexibility. But the thing is, I'm too scared to actually do it, so really I'm a yoga wanna-be who is in love with the idea of yoga although I'm too neurotic and lazy to actually go do it. It makes no sense, I know.

I've made a million excuses. No time. It costs too much. My schedule is too busy as it is. Blah Blah Blah. It's pathetic.

Once I went to a yoga class. My dad likes Bikram Yoga, also called hot yoga, and he used to go all the time. In Bikram Yoga they heat the room to what feels like about 212 degrees, supposedly to mimic the conditions in the hottest part of India at the hottest time of the year, and to encourage flexibility. Yeah, they can have that.

I went to Bikram Yoga class with my dad a few years ago and the class was very crowded and the stench of that 212 degree room was enough to kill. Imagine how much sweat was in that yoga studio. Years of built up, cooked on, steamed up sweat was combined with very new sweat, some of it emanating from individuals who were clearly so enlightened and such higher beings that they no longer believed in deodorant. The room was rank.

Did I also mention that it was 212 degrees? Yeah. So as soon as I spread out my mat, I was ready to collapse in a heap and go to sleep on it. In that kind of heat every little movement was torture for me, but still I tried. I quickly learned that I can't stand on one foot without hopping around like a jack rabbit. Then I learned that I'm not good at any of the poses and being a perfectionist I hate this. I generally stick with things that I'm naturally good at and avoid things that I might have to learn, practice or suck at at first. It's too humiliating for me. If there had been a pose which involved curling up in the fetal position while gagging and convulsing, I would have been great at that. If we were required to have a serious heat stroke, I would have been at the top of the class.

By the time it was all over I was ready to die. I was nauseated, my head ached and I felt faint.

"It's the toxins coming out of your body," the instructor said.

"Well I want them to stay in because I felt fine before they started coming out," I replied.

That was the last time I went to yoga. I kid you not, I was sick for an entire day after the ordeal.

So my first experience with yoga was bad, but I know that not all yoga classes take place in temperature extremes and I know that yoga is great for you.

I also know that my doctor told me I needed to go.

"You need to do yoga several times a week to maintain joint flexibility when you have a condition like this," the doctor said.

"Oh no. You don't understand. I'm not good at yoga."

"You have to do it a lot and then you get good. It's like with anything else."

"That's not exactly how I operate," I explained.

"Take yoga," the doctor repeated, "Or your limbs will look like old tree trunks and you'll have to ride around the grocery store in one of those little carts," said the doctor.

Fabulous, I thought. I'll do it after New Years, I decided.

Well, it's after New Years and I haven't gone. I did look at a couple yoga studios' web sites though if that counts for anything, but I can't bring myself to go. I'm scared that I'll look stupid, that everyone else will be graceful and look like Gwyneth Paltrow and I'll look like one of those stupid turkeys who looks up at the rain with its beak open until it drowns itself. I'm afraid I'll laugh. I'm deeply afraid that I'll be contorted into some crazy position and I'll have to fart and won't be able to hold it in and I swear to you all, if I farted in public I would probably actually, literally die right there on the spot. I'm afraid of falling down and hopping around and crashing into the little altar and knocking off some of the arms on the Shiva statue. Really, my list of fears goes on and on, but I think ultimately I'm more afraid of having to ride around the grocery store in a little cart that beeps really loudly when I want to back up. That kind of a life would be far worse, so I must get over this and I must go to yoga.

Readers, putting this in writing makes it more real to me. It helps me to be more accountable. Please help me. Please tell me what an idiot I'm being. Please hold me to my word about going to yoga classes. Give me the ass kicking I need to get up off of my ass and do what's best for my health.

I mean, at the very least, at least I can write about it if I do something mortifying, right?

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