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Rites of Spring: A Self-Indulgent Weekend
PAGE TWO
March 2006

After several hours of Betty & Co., I was ready for a change of pace. Armed with cuticle cream and orange sticks, nail files and bottles, I hunkered down for something I rarely do, and certainly not on weekends. Several things I rarely do, in fact: paint my nails and watch telly. It was a 90210 TiVo bonanza today, so I enjoyed the whole New Evolution/Culty Kelly thing, and gave myself a very thorough manicure, ending up with shimmery lilac-colored fingernails. Hm. Not bad. After the nails were dry and my brain saturated with Valerie inexplicably fucking dough-boy Ray Pruit to piss off St. Donna, I switched over to the New York City Ballet workout. Dear God, I used to be able to do grande plies from second position, easy! Dude… did that noise come from… my knees?! I have several workout things that I’ve been meaning to do, but it’s pretty hard, for me, at least, to just pop a tape in and jump right into the routines with ease. So I watched my Pilates and gentle yoga stuff, trying this and that, but not putting pressure on myself to “work out.” I ended up “working out” more than I would’ve if I’d started the tape at 00:01 and tried to keep up. I was lagging on my goal of water consumption, though, so I chugged another 16 oz. bottle in the process.

Dinner time, and this wasn’t gonna be no spa-food meal tonight, nor was I going to settle for no fucking microwave dinner neither. I love to cook but rarely have time to these days, unless you count tomato soup-on-the-go or heating up the previous night’s Thai food in the microwave. Tonight, though? Much more special. I’d riffled through a bunch of those pages-yanked-from-various-Life&Home-type-magazines with various Things I’ve Been Meaning to Try/Make, and happily fell to in the kitchen, preparing mushrooms stuffed with goat cheese and walnuts, potato/parsnip puree with caviar and crème fraiche, and pesto-filled filet. To make it even more decadent? Not only did I buy myself a small bottle of champagne (some stuff that had been recommended as “light and lemony”), but I bought myself an ounce of caviar. The good stuff. The $75/oz beluga stuff. Just for me. And when I mounded it on top of a pale pile of potato and parsnip puree…? Ohhhh. So fucking rich. I chowed half the jar (served with a mother-of-pearl caviar serving set, natch) while watching all the TiVo’d American Idol tryouts. The filet turned out perfect, tender and melty like butter. The mushrooms were creamy and rich. As it turns out, I’m a pretty fucking good cook. *urp*

American Idol wasn’t brain-dead enough, so I had to break out the Bad 80s Movie I’d Been Meaning to Watch for Years Yet Hadn’t: Girls Just Want to Have Fun. Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt as Catholic school girls? What could be better? Wait- WAIT! Is that… Richard Blade as the host of Dance TV?! YES! And… dudes! Squiffy lil’ Shannen Dougherty as the bratty kid sister!?!

Pay dirt.

I flipped through dumb magazines, rubbed in more cuticle cream, and considered making my planned-for dessert, but was too stuffed from the caviar and steak to consider it. I had just enough energy for my second bath of the day (more bath bombs and Bliss lotions) before bundling into bed. At a little after ten. Where I fell sound asleep. And SLEPT! Soundly!

Sunday

I’d debated a couple possibilities for Sunday. Spa? Flea market? Walk to Sweet Lady Jane’s for tea, or maybe subject myself to the horrors of Fred Segal’s just because I could? No, not quite right. I needed some more spiritual rejuvenation. So, I packed up a picnic breakfast, a thermos of rich hot chocolate, my journal, and some books. Before eight in the morning, I was on my way toward Santa Monica. It was a gorgeous morning, misty, but already the fog on the coast was receding, and joggers and bikers were out in droves. I headed north and ended up on a quiet little rise of sand at Will Rogers Beach. The sun was warm and golden, and the waves strong and regular.

I brought some poetry, but the Tennyson I’d been meaning to read was just too formal and heavy for this morning. (I knew I should’ve grabbed the collection of love poetry by women instead!) So I relaxed and sipped cocoa, and soon stretched out and commenced the deep breathing and visualization my therapist taught me. Like melting drops of water from ice trickling down the cracks and crevices in a mountain, I imagine tension and pressures melting away, and peace and tranquility flowing through my limbs. With the sound of the water and the benediction of the rising sun, I stayed in quiet meditation for over an hour, feeling my perspective return as if some internal dial that had been just a leetle bit off was slowly tuned back into position. I spent another two hours writing in my journal, doing various exercises and listening to the water. Filling almost a dozen pages in my journal with sentence fragments and lists and rambly paragraphs, I explored some thoughts and feelings that had been niggling at me for months, reaffirming the messages I’d heard via therapy, not to mention via friends and family. Especially, I thought about just how much I have to be thankful for. And I’m not trying to pull a smug Star Jones “I’m just sooooo blessed!” thing. But one of the things that my EMDR counselor noticed (and something my mom and numerous friends, not to mention THTM, have pointed out to me) is that I have a very difficult time accepting that I deserve good things. So a super-abundance of amazing and wonderful things can leave me in as much of a funk as some people might feel when things’re bad. I know, I know, cry you a river, huh? But I’m working on getting over those negative feelings, and just started listing pages and pages of things I’m so very thankful for without (well, trying, anyway!) worrying like usual that “too much happiness makes the gods jealous” and I’m going to, like, get cancer as “punishment” for joy.

Frankly, I’m grateful every second of the day, with every fiber of my being. I’m married to a husband I adore who adores me back just as much, and shows it all the time. I have family and friends I love and respect, who I can count on, and who I’m lucky enough to be able to help out as well. I have financial security, a beautiful and personal home, the luxury of travel and education. I’ve accomplished more in my field of work than I thought I could, and have the respect of my peers as well. I have a healthy and capable body and mind. I have everything I used to long for as a sad, broke, stupid kid, and so much more. Few people could appreciate an abundance of good fortune and happiness as much as I do.

Which was why I decided to do what I did next. Filled with serenity and happiness and life and joy, I packed up my sandy belongings and beat tracks to the nearest garden shop. I got home at noon, and without even stopping for lunch, I spent the rest of the afternoon planting spring plants in the yard: lots of my favorite hydrangeas, plus azaleas, snapdragons, “freckle face” plants, and, of course, plenty of herbs. I pruned what was already there, weeded, combining pots and moving others around the front and back patios. I cranked up more hippie music, and with The Beatles, The Doors, The Guess Who and The Mamas and the Papas blasting, the smell of dirt and plants and herbs and flowers, the sun almost hot, and the neighbors out dog-walking in full force, it felt more like an early summer day instead of early February. Palpitatingly, vibratingly alive.

I was good and dirty and sweaty when I hit the bathtub for my first bath of the day. I made it a more stimulating-invigorating bath session, first scrubbing up vigorously in the shower, then soaking in fizzy citrus bath-bomb’d bathwater. I’ve gotten really fond of the Bliss stuff, and used up my share of lemon-and-sage-scented this and that. And then another round of ballet and yoga stretches. I switched over to classical music, spent some time scaring up a download of a Bach piece I’d been meaning to find after Sir Paul mentioned it in concert last month, and commenced to stretching and bending. Another bad movie, plus the rest of the caviar for din-din… oh, this is too, too good! What the hell: let’s top off a healthy ballet and yoga session followed by a pile of caviar and crème fraiche and chopped hardboiled egg with… an Oreo hot fudge sundae! With chopped almonds. Yeah, so? I’d skipped lunch! Plus I did the warm-up routine along with Center Stage. Twice.

As I wound down, I put on the playlist that grew out of what I used to call “mellow sessions” when I was in 8 th and 9 th grades. Not sad songs or love songs, but introspective songs. Songs I can listen to twenty times in a row. Songs I write to. Songs that make me feel like me. I’ve been so focused on academia and scholarly writing that it feels downright decadent to spend time with personal writing of the ilk I was tackling, but, the more I wrote, the more I saw how necessary it is. Stretched thin and crackly from my insane school schedule, and feeling emotionally vulnerable from the aforementioned Overwhelming Blessings and Good Things, I decided recently to get some Therapy Touch-Ups. Nothing was wrong per se, but I was having more of the out-of-sorts feelings, and was second-guessing everything that happened to me and everything I did. So I really needed time for a lot more journaling and writing and reflecting. I even broke out the 500 Personal and Random Question Survey that Neelie sent around, which I’d started months before, to help the process along. Remember that internal dial? Yeah, the signal’s coming in stronger.

Another short bath and some more Betty Wales and I was more than ready for bed. I toyed with the idea of staying up to listen to Rodney, but I barely made it to 10:30. I’m a pussy.

Monday

Monday was gonna be Spa Day, but, to my chagrin, I discovered the spa I wanted to try was closed the first Monday of every month… namely, today.

Monday is also Housekeeper Day, so I planned to duck out early and come home to a magically clean house. I’d have to pack and get ready for my conference tomorrow, and one of the things I needed to do beforehand was something I loathe doing: I had to find another pair of dress shoes. Hopefully, couching the shoe-shopping within the frame of a Decadent and Self-Indulgent Weekend might make me dread the prospect a little less…?

Ha! Not likely. Less than an hour at Century City, and I was making a mad dash for the parking structure, clutching the stacked-heeled (heels?!) open-toed brown leather things I’d finally settled on, desperate to escape the insecticide-like aroma of department stores and boutiques. I flanged the bag into the car, and sped across Santa Monica Blvd. for lunch – a long, luxurious lunch, with lots more reading and writing – at Clementine’s. I’d just about hot cocoa’d myself out, so, since it was still warm outside, I had ginger limeade instead, and sipped and wrote, sipped and read, and ignored the yuppie-pig-dog-scum businessmen next to me discussing the trials of trying to find a new nanny, and some planned and packaged Yosemite family retreat weekend they had to go on, with “you know, building a fire, I guess, and stuff like that.”

Yeah, did I mention “thankful”?

Home, and more stretches and reading Victorian books out on the back porch as the afternoon drifted slowly by…. Lots of scented candles and incense. Lots of good music, this time my Chicks playlist: The Donnas, of course, and the Dollyrots and Bratmobile and Gossip and the Go-Gos and the Butchies and Dressy Bessy and Blondie and Kelly Osbourne and Phranc and Josie Cotton and Lesley Gore and Go Betty Go. Heck, I even experimented with a couple things I’d seen in recent magazines: cute spring-like pigtails, which, if you position them right and use clear bands, are supposed to look sophisticated. No luck with me. No matter how I positioned them or how much anti-frizz stuff I tried, I still looked like 1) fat, retarded Pippi Longstocking or 2) Melissa Gilbert playing Helen Keller in the made-for-TV version of The Miracle Worker. Does it count as spiritual enlightenment when you discover that you are not the cute pigtail type, no matter how good Claudia Schiffer looks in hers? Anyway, speaking of Melissa Gilbert, I cued up the Baby Battering Ram ep of Little House, followed by the “Woman… who else have you been with?” ep and giggled my ass off.

The Slacker Hacker had decided that a Self-Indulgent Weekend could only be capped off by one thing: my favorite fag-bitch cooking me dinner. Bobby bore over several bags of groceries, and, while I cranked up trashy early 80s music and fixed us some cocktails (fuck the water consumption!), he chopped, sautéed, stirred, boiled, and made, believe it or not, fantastically yummy risotto. We stuffed ourselves while watching A Mighty Wind, which I’d wanted to see for ages, and giggled maniacally. Bobby cleared out early, and I built a fire in the fireplace, changed into my favorite at-home gear -- foofy bloomers, petticoat and chemise -- and made myself comfy-cozy with more mellow music and writing.

As far as my weekend goals, I’d flailed on my physical ones: fruit and water consumption pretty much went out the window, and I had only medium success with exercise. I think if I want to do something hardcore health-conscious, I’ll schlep myself to one of those tony Desert Hot Springs juice-fast places. But that seemed minimal compared to the mental and spiritual goals I’d achieved. The whole weekend ended up really being about the necessity of taking a few minutes to think of something other than my classes or book or conferences or even the La Casita remodel, and instead reminding myself of the messages that are so quick to fail me when I’m under pressure. Those banally simple things – sitting outside in the sun, taking time to fix a nice dinner, picking up a bouquet of bright flowers, stretching – were the things that made the most difference. Dare I say it? Those were the biggest indulgences of all.

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