Size 6 after 30

In the parking garage, I almost rammed a car in front of me. Not that I was mad. It was just one of those weeks when I feel like the elastic in my favorite panties. With all my wishful thinking, it can only stretch so far.

I was meeting my friend at the mall who’d been having a similar type of week. Crabby and frazzled, at some point we collapsed on the couches next to Macy’s and vented over Red Bull and green tea. At least she had a couple of new suits to show for her endeavors – hers had become too loose thanks forgetting to eat for the past month.

“The last time I was size 4 was years ago,” I said, full of jealous nostalgia.

“Yeah? Well, I like it better when I’m size 6. That means you got shape.”

“More like belly fat folds.”

“No, the right kind of curves.”

Bliss. Bliss. Bliss. And where did all the weight go?

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When I was in seventh grade, the boy I was having a crush on showed up one day, all huffing and puffing, and was just bursting to tell me, like I was his best friend,

“You won’t believe this! XXXXX has invited me to her party on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that great?”

Apparently he was having a crush on someone else. A girl twice his size.

The happiness in his eyes was so sincere and genuine that like a good person, I lied to him about how thrilled I was for him. And went on to cry in the girl’s bathroom. Where in the middle of one of the best “feeling sorry for myself” moments, I also happened to hear one of our teachers pee, but the damaging effects of that are another story.

I came home and discovered cookies drizzled with chocolate that had not been there that morning. A neighbor had come by when I wasn’t looking.

Sometimes Valentine’s days turn out devastating, relatively. But sometimes the best moments come from where we least expect them. It’s like watching a soup boil. So give it some space – look the other way. And chocolate frosting always helps.

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What we’ve got is gold

Back when I still didn’t even have a driver’s license, my best friend already had a red car. It was almost the kind of car they drive in Flintstone cartoons, where they stick their feet in and then run really fast. But it was real, and it was red, and it was filled with stuffed bears.

Standing in traffic jams, we held spontaneous dance parties in the front seats while singing along to home-made mix tapes.  We shared heart-throb stories and quizzed each other on school stuff before exams. And my best friend even let me drive it. Once.

Fast forward 10 years later. We are in a two-seater red convertible Honda, roaring up Highway 1 up the California coast. Listening to a mix tape – on an MP3 player. Sharing heart-throb stories, sunshine and fish tacos. Pointing the camera out above our heads and shooting video of palm trees and hunky surfers with spiky hair. Screaming songs we used to sing in the other red car. It’s the kind of day you want to bottle up and use as perfume.

For everyone who wishes they were on a beach in Cali or just wants to share a gold moment with someone, here’s Mr. Blunt.

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Three cups of tea in Egypt

When we were heading to Egypt last year, we knew we were going to get sick. As much as everyone told us to drink bottled water and avoid tea, how could they seriously expect us to pass on the buffet in our hotel where half of the things were not cooked but looked like if we didn’t try, we’d die from regret?

The best place to get sick, it turned out, was in a middle of a souvenir store in Tahrir Square – across the street from the Cairo Museum that houses numerous ancient treasures and few dozen ghosts guarding the mummies of the kings past. We walked into that little store, and as woman in a black burka was showing me a silver scarab the size of a walnut, it hit me. I was about to collapse right there, or worse, throw up all over their papyrus.

“Do you need help?” she asked me in pretty good English.

And that’s how I found myself in the bathroom of a regular Egyptian house. Toilet paper. Air freshener. Tampax.

It felt surreal to be behind the curtain. I was honored by a random act of kindness from strangers, and once again amazed that underneath burkas and shorts and CK t-shirts, our hearts all beat the same.

By the time I could walk again, it was almost closing time. The couple set up a tray with cups, and we drank sweet mint tea and talked about how Muslims see the world. It was like a miniature UN meeting, except for we left in complete admiration of their culture and traditions, something that a previous week of travel through Egypt had failed to accomplish. It was a human touch and it was real.

And now they got tanks in that same square.

PS. And the next day, we saw a man with a giant tea pot strapped to his back. He was standing outside a mosque and pouring tea into glass glasses that he with him. Some vending machine! Tea’s got the power.

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How to get along with your American husband. Part 2

We are sitting at the dinner table, our usual place of brainstorming because ideas like food too. Towards the end of dinner, when I see that certain glistening of a happy Cheshire cat in B’s eyes, I decide it’s time to pick his brain.

“You know, a friend of mine has missed their anniversary. Just plain forgot about it and her husband got upset, understandably,” I say. “What do you think would be a good way for her to rectify this situation?”

B keeps mopping up the steak juices with a piece of bread, possibly considering the noise around him as AnnaFM, a radio station local to our house.

“Come on, what is your male perspective on this?” I nudge him.

“Well, what about having sex with him?” he suggests. This coming from a person who holds season tickets to two theater, collects limited-edition pens and has a PhD.

“You mean that’s it? Just have sex?” I was thinking along the lines of dinner under the stars, skinny dipping, chocolate dipped marshmallows, the new version of Xbox 360. Maybe even volunteering to host a Superbowl party for all his friends.

B. pours us tea and says,

“Well, if she truly wants to make it special, how about doing it twice?”

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All the world’s a stage

My muse friend and her two sisters went to see Chekhov’s Three Sisters on Saturday night. It was 1 am her time in St. Petersburg when she was telling me that, and I was just getting the breakfast going in Las Vegas.  She was raiding the fridge, and I was raiding the fridge.

“The thing is 4,5 hours long!” she said.

“Did you go to the café during intermission?” I asked.  In St. Petersburg, going to a play and not going to the café is like going to Paris and skipping the Eifel tower.

“We did, and we brought our own bananas and candy,” she said. “It was like just like we were kids.”

Six hours later, B and I were going to see The Fantasticks musical. Next to me sat a Betty White –type old lady in an embroidered shirt and matching earrings and necklace. She was glowing.

“Went to see this musical in 1967,” she said. “It was all we could afford for our honeymoon.”

“Sounds like it was magical for you,” I said.

“Yes! We’re still together! We have our sixth great-grand child on the way….”

She tapped her foot and hummed along with the music. It was happiness you wanted to bottle for future use.

The magical power of theater….

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Only in Las Vegas

You know the nights when you think “Who are these people and where is my luggage?” Well, tonight wasn’t one of those nights.  Continue reading

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