Saturday, December 29, 2007

Why 2008 Is Your Year for It All

"We're either in love or we're in fear."

-Maureen Dowd

I'm not sure if you're religious or not. I don't care. I want to explain this to anyone willing to listen. Or read--you know what I mean. And everyone that reads this blog should have an open enough mind to turn an ear even to that which they don't believe or understand. But I digress.

Clearly, my m.o. for this blog is for it to be an endless dissertation on my ever-unfolding beliefs and observations on male-female relationships, and also a vain attempt at uniting women through our shared experiences. This includes a discussion of love, romance and sex and all the other degenerate female vices.

But there's so much more to being a woman today than simply being a counterpart and peg board for men. Men are a major piece of the puzzle, a piece I would be the last person to undervalue. But if men are the pinnacle of our desire, then how far have we really come as women? If all we ultimately want is to be someone's wife and someone some man is in love with, then we're all smart enough to know that we're selling ourselves short.

Success has always been very important to women. What has changed throughout history is a cultural understanding of what defines our success. For instance, prior to the 1970's, for many American women success was structured very simply around how effective they were in their homes as lovers, wives and mothers. In one of my favorite little cabaret-esque 1960's diddies, Dionne Warwick warbles about taking care of a man so that he won't leave you: "day after day/there are girls at the office/and men will always be men/now don't send him off/with your hair all in curlers/you may not see him again". Imagine Keyshia Cole making a song instructing women to make sure they're put together every day when their man gets home from work so that he doesn't leave them for his secretary. And I'm sure your first thought is Destiny's Child's "Cater to You", a song which I actually love and which actually states "let me help you/take off your shoes/untie your shoestrings/take off your cuff links/what you wanna eat boo/lemme feed you/lemme run your bathwater/whatever you desire/i'll aspire..." and veers off into the increasingly questionable territory of manicures, foot rubs and implied anal sex (I know my interpretation of the second verse is not the only one that reads the lyrics this way). And on the topic of "catering", briefly: the thing is, women know instinctively that we need to look good for men. There's a reason we put so much into our appearance for them. But as time has evolved, many women have realized that we primp ourselves not for men, but moreso for other women. Moreover, how far down our noses would we look at the 21st century woman waiting for her husband to get home every night for dinner in a petticoat holding a rack of lamb? It just really doesn't happen anymore. And most importantly, the primary songwriter for "Cater to You" is worth over a quarter of a billion dollars. Massaging toes holds a lot more weight when a few minutes of your time is worth thousands.

Of course, as usual, I've taken the long road to my central point: that 2008 is the THE YEAR for women to have everything they desire. It's time to grab what you want and squeeze the life out of it. I introduced the religious aspect to all of this because of a sermon I heard preached at my family's church in Dallas last week. The assistant minister there, Rev. Marcus King (who is very skilled and actually quite attractive), preached from the book of Joshua (J 5: 1-9 in fact) about covenant (God's promises) and circumcision. In discussing how God had Moses to circumcise all of the Israelites, Rev. King wove an intricate and interesting discussion of the importance of the number "8". While "7" is considered the divine number (and I'm known to fast from 7AM to 7PM on the 7th day of the month it's so sacred; not to mention I was born on September 7th), King explained to us that while "7" is divine, the number "8" is actually the new beginning. At the beginning of this year, Kim and I swore that 2007, being of the number "7", was going to be awesome. It was a fresh start, the divine gifting of all that we'd ever desired as a present from God for righteousness. Needless to say, when it was said and done it was not all it was cracked up to be. It was often trying and rarely fruitful, and we began to wonder what exactly had gone wrong. I just knew this was the year that all of my friends' prayers would be heard; that everything that had been closed would be opened up and they'd all see the results of everything they'd worked so hard for. Instead, it was frustrating and puzzling.

It wasn't until I heard this sermon, entitled " It's Because of the Promise" that I began to fully understand. So much groundwork for abundance was laid in 2007, things I now fully expect to come to fruition in 2008. As it was explained by King, biblically "8" symbolizes the actual new beginning because although they waited 7 days after an Israelite child was born to circumcise, it was on the 8th day that the child was actually cut and subsequently given his or her name and identity. The 7th day was used to prepare the child and the family for the circumcision.

I thought about myself when he said this; I thought about my girlfriends who are struggling through finding their perfect job or advancing in their chosen career, my friends struggling in graduate or professional school for their med school degree or Ph.D., friends struggling to get their business off the ground (including me), and last but not least, those of us trudging through the mucky waters of men and relationships. It's been a long year for us all. And I'm certainly not saying life will be perfect in 2008, but I truly believe that as women we have to own our own pleasure and that 2008, being a year of new beginnings, should be the year we do it. Happiness is a decision, and part of deciding to be happy is deciding to have everything you want, and wanting everything you have.

I'll risk the irony of introducing the concept of a psychic within this post (who I believe may have actually been a prophet) who approached me in February with some news about my life that was dead on. In a rather long, in depth conversation, she informed that this was the year I had to become "unstuck" (something that gave me goosepimples) in my life and stop making other people's concerns and fears my insecurities. She said that now was the time to "stop hesitating" so that I could grab all that was coming to me. She also told me that this year I would meet my soulmate and that we would be married at the end of 2008 or early 2009. It more than remains to be seen if anyone I met this year is actually a soulmate, and because ultimately I trust God above all else, I'm making a vain attempt at surrender and patience in understanding what's next in the love department. And because I trust God, I also trust that everything that I want may not be what I need or what I get.

But God helps those who help themselves, and for this reason, I'm encouraging all of us to throw ourselves [even further] into work and growing our empires. We want to attract the right kind of man anyway, and the right kind of man is attracted to independence and strength. So let's be even more independent and strong, ladies. This year is your year. You will create the perfect success for yourself, whatever characterizes your version of success. Believe that as we enter 2008.

Maureen Dowd repeats a quote from a spiritual healer in her column stating that we're either in love or we're in fear, a quote that really does deserve its own post. But I'm going to take it at face value and agree. My one caveat is that the quote implies that you're either in love with a man or we're in fear. I think it's perfectly normal and acceptable for this year to be the year you're out of fear and in love--with yourself. I don't care if it's hokey or not, just know that it's your time to shine. Make 2008 sparkle.

Happy New Year Ladies!!

(Drink responsibly:o)) xoxo Ash

Resolution #3

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...But I Did Not Shoot the Deputy

"Chivalry is dead. And women killed it."

-Dave Chappelle

In the movie "The Aviator", there's a very telling and well-played scene about male-female dynamics. Leonardo DiCaprio, as Howard Hughes, and Cate Blanchett, as Katherine Hepburn, are having an argument. During the course of the verbal sparring, Howard, who is holding a bowl of ice cream, receives a call. Because a part of their argument is Katherine's increasing annoyance with his attention to forces outside their relationship, she glares at the ringing phone as he answers it. Of course, since they were having a rather deep discussion, and since he was the superior of everyone he worked with and beholden to no one, he should have informed whomever was on the other line that he was busy and would call them back. As Katherine watches, however, he begins what appears to be an in-depth conversation. She then demands that he not set the bowl of ice cream down on his desk, because of course, once he's set the ice cream down he's then completely moved on to the conversation at hand that has interrupted their very important dialogue on their relationship. Finally, with a smug smirk he sets it down and she storms out, ultimately storming out of his life and onto another man. I watched this film for the first time several years ago with my cousin Tyra and her boyfriend, Radi. We all found ourselves riveted by this scene. When it was over, we all exhaled in ponderance of what had just happened between the two characters. Radi, who seemed particularly affected by Katherine's behavior in the scene, muttered "...damn. and all over some ice cream." Tyra and I looked at each other and fell out laughing. The real issues in the scene--and the cinematic relationship--had gone completely over his head.

In Dave Chappelle's stand-up act, he has a little bit on chivalry being dead and women being the ones who killed it. Of course, he introduces an interesting possibility. Did we murder chivalry? Did we, in fact, shoot the sheriff? I don't know, but what I do know is that what isn't addressed from Dave's emphatically male point of view is that while we may very well have skinned chivalry a bit, we haven't quite driven a dagger into its heart.

It's just that men have, once again, missed the entire point.

It's true that we've done away with much of chivalry, because much of chivalry was completely over the top. Think about it: there was a time when chivalry was defined as dueling someone who insulted your girlfriend or wife or throwing your coat over a puddle of water for a woman to cross. Beautiful sentiments, but ultimately unnecessary. Many women would be satisfied with a simple verbal admonishment to someone who has disrespected them, and most women are perfectly capable of sidestepping their own puddles.

Where we are first accused of slaying chivalry is in our frequent demands for equality. The "aww maaaan" choir quickly pulls their set together after every utterance of a hope for female advancement in this country: "Women want equal treatment, equal pay; of course chivalry is dead!". What these people fail to point out is that the places where women demand impartial treatment are the places where it serves us all to let them do so. Where are the primary areas women seek equality? The workplace, sports, and the army. Areas where it behooves all of us to let talented and strong women in to do what they do best. Females who can perform in the workforce just as well or better than males deserve equal pay, period. Women who have the strength and dedication to their brand of athletics and can put butts in the seats for games and meets deserve every possible door opened to them the same as a man. As for the armed forces, well, any woman willing to work that hard to fight for her country deserves a chance to do so, the same as a man.

In researching chivalrous acts, I came across a quote from Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Adelin that reads: "If chivalry is dead, women have killed it. They have killed it by becoming capable, efficient, and independent, able to kill their own snakes. They prove by their strength and ability that they don't need masculine care and protection, that they are well able to take care of themselves. They commonly display their capacity to solve their own problems and fight their own battles. To awaken chivalry we must return to femininity. We must stop doing the masculine things and become the gentle, tender, dependent women we were designed to be, women who need masculine care and protection. When we do, men will delight in offering their chivalry."

Blank stare. Crickets. And finally...what the hell do you expect women to do, Ms. Adelin? Not be capable, not be efficient or independent? This woman is only an eighth of the way on point with this, because let's face facts: I ain't killin no snakes. So, yes, a man can always do that for me. However, how would I look pretending to be overly fragile, inept and needy? Especially when, in this society, finding a man who will "delight" in offering chivalry can be something of a stretch. As I said earlier this year, I don't really even believe chivalry is dead...I simply believe it's pimping. But either way, women don't need to make themselves smaller so that men can be bigger, and that's where anti-feminists always go wrong.

Of course, there are exceptions to this as with anything. Another way women have assaulted chivalry is in not being cognizant of the major difference between respect and inferiority. Some women are so quick on the draw and so insistent on being able to do any- and everything themselves that they don't ever stop to make a man feel like a man. And this is where we've damaged chivalry the most. We should let a man feel that he's capable of "being a man". We should let him feel like he knows where he's going if he's driving (unless you're just completely lost and you have to be the woman and put your foot down), we should let a man feel that he knows sports or cooking or wherever his expertise [that's not our own] may be better than ours and we should let him explain it even if we already know what he's talking about. We should let a man change our tire if he's there, we should let a man open doors when we go out. A man should pay for every date unless you've been together a loooong time, and especially if there's sex involved. In this way, we set the stage for the respect we deserve in our most intimate relationships. As loudly as I vocalized my opposition to chivalry and my position on female sexual liberation in my youth, it took a few empty morning-afters and some questionable relationships before I realized that yes, me, naked is a big deal. Aaaall thiiis, me bucket naked and having sex with you, is a huge deal and one that shouldn't ever be taken lightly. And because I'm not asking anyone to pledge undying love to me before I give it, a man has to find some way to prove that he understands the weight of my decision. That includes opening doors and paying for dates and communicating with me. Those are the basic offerings of respect you give to a woman who has given herself to you. I'm not implying that sex is a one-way street and that women don't benefit. I realize we do. At the same time, the subsequent implications for us are much greater, socially and emotionally. Nothing can minimize this, and we need to know that men are considerate of this fact. That may be newfangled chivalry to some, but it's chivalry--and necessary--nonetheless.

See, the simple fact is that chivalry needed to die in some places and it desperately needs to exist in others. Of course, the Helen Adelin set believes that women's insistence on equality has caused men's behavior to diminsh to where it stands today--often disappointing and frequently disrespectful. But women have not learned to reject chivalry; we have learned to take care of ourselves out of necessity. And once we got to doing it, we kinda liked knowing that we didn't have to depend on erratic and often selfish men. We kinda liked knowing that we could be our own trophies before being anyone else's, and yeah, we kinda liked the rush of achievement that made men work so hard for so long before we had the same opportunities.

But what came first, the chicken or the egg? I say (us being the egg for obvious reasons) that the chicken came first. The need for chivalry in some instances and the need to do away with it in others can't and shouldn't be dumbed down simply because men have allowed society to lead them to a place where their penises are the Lewis & Clarke of their life's expedition. Making it plain, the places where women demand equality, such as corporate America, sports, the armed forces, academic institutions, government, the industry (it makes no sense that Viagra be fully covered by insurance and we still have a co-pay on birth control)...these are places where bare-boned logic can be applied and it would result in our favor. These are places that should be unchivalrous and maybe even mildly chauvinistic. Women can handle that. Women can handle being challenged by the government, we can take going up against the administration of a school. We can handle chauvinism because it's all part of the job...and because, as Hillary Clinton has shown time and again, women can do chauvinism just as well as men, too. But home, family, love, romance, sex...these are sacred places that build families and lives; places, I believe, in which women should always feel protected, cherished and honored. Point blank. And I don't think that's too hard to understand. We bring forth life from our loins, for heaven's sake. What more do you need to prove that, in the scheme of things, we're special and to be treated specially?

Another way in which we're accused of trying to off chivalry is the cheapening of ourselves through sex and lack of modesty. It can't be completely negated that women have slightly devalued sex by making it easily accessible and constantly available. However, there are plenty of women out there who take sex very seriously and who just happen to choose men who don't. A sad and complex dichotomy, and one that won't be fully dissected in this article. However, the question of the egg and chicken comes into play once again. Is it simply that women decided to reverse-cowgirl their way through life for basic need of clitoral stimulation, or that some women decided to make a currency more available in an effort to survive in a market with great demands often met elsewhere? Food for thought. As for a lack of modesty, the main reason women used to be so modest was to protect the assets of their fathers, husbands and brothers--the men that owned them. Once women realized that they owned their own body parts and pieces, they started to show them off more. Of course, some women took it too damn far, but just as many are aware and respectful of the fine line between edgy and tasteless.

So is chivalry buried and cold or has it just coded? If it's the latter, how do we resurrect it? Well, my father's always stressed that you teach people how to treat you. So if we've taught men that chivalry is dead, we can just as easily teach them that it's alive.Yes, we can take care of ourselves, but the point of finding love and finding a partner is feeling as though you don't always have to take care of yourself, whether you're a man or a woman. And we do need to treasure what makes us special as women so that men do the same. Women are natural multi-taskers and innate chameleons. That said, the woman that goes to work every day and hustles to take care of business shouldn't be the same woman that lies down next to her man at night. We have to own our femininity, softness, warmth and vulnerability. Not roll around in it, necessarily, but acknowledge its part in us. We're truly from Venus and they're from Mars, and if we try make them treat us like martians, it only causes discord and resentment. Maybe teaching them the language of our culture is the key to creating lasting relationships.

The word "chivalry" makes a lot of women cringe. It sounds antiquated and repressive, scary for women who just last century were afforded fundamental opportunities like voting and attending select institutions of higher learning. But the concept shouldn't be looked at in a negative light. There is value in men serving and celebrating women. So often the plight women speak of is one of feeling undervalued and taken for granted. What could be so wrong with a system that makes women feel valued and cherished? As I previously stated, there are places chivalry doesn't belong--the workplace is a major one. I take nothing away from the brilliance and capability of women to excel in corporate America and tons of lucrative industries. Creating a career is something that uses a woman's unique talents and sensibilities, and it's an art. But in order to create a home, there has to be an order and an understanding of male and female roles.

I'm certainly not saying that women should be submissive at home and not saying that our days should be spent cooking and cleaning. I am saying that our time is priceless, the emotional work we do in order to sustain relationships is important, and our bodies are precious. Making sure that men realize that through actions and not just words serves us all. There are still some little pockets in our lives where chivalry can snuggle quite comfortably. A book I once read whose title escapes me talked about feminine and masculine energy in a relationship. The argument was that if the woman is exuding too much masculine energy, the man has to exude more feminine energy in order to be a proper balance. Of course, this might explain why so many guys act like bitches half the time, but the point is simple: we have to be women so that they can be men. Or else we have to be able to live with what we get. Which, sadly, may not be much.

Resolution #2

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Don't Make Me Over

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."

-Anon

I am so freakin' excited about the approaching new year ladies! And because I am always up for an opportunity to take a look at some new ways to rock makeup, clothes and shoes (and an excuse to buy something), I love a hallmark holiday like none other. The new year is my particular favorite because it really is an opportunity to do something new and different with yourself, an opportunity to demonstrate where you are in life and how you feel. Reflecting how you've changed in the past year is the best feeling. For instance, these days I'm feeling straight slicked back jet black hair (dyed and fried it yesterday; it looks fabulous!!), super tight pants, questionably high heels and tons of gold jewelry. It reflects the sexy, expensive feeling I've got going on right now that I want everyone to know about.

It's not too much of a leap to tie this back into our relationships. Illustrating who we are through our appearances sends an unmistakable message to the world, and inevitably, men. I'm challenging all of us to find a look and feel that gives us the confidence and energy we need to project as women. I'm all about empowering us this year to take over the world (this is in no way affiliated with the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign)! Plus, you gotta know who you are before you can tell anyone.

I feel particularly strongly about this this year since this is the first year since 2001 that I'm not in love with anyone entering the new year. For the past seven years I've been crazy about someone, and made my random acts of re-creation more about pleasing a man than pleasing myself. I was young and you could tell. I wore my hair for a man, lost and gained weight for a man, changed my makeup for a man, wore lower shoes for a man (I HATED this), and last but far from least, I even grew out the tresses of my vajajay (hereto referred to as Lola) for a man (I'll take this moment to sing the praises of a brazilian bikini wax, my personal favorite. Pubic hair--who needs it???!).

So, needless to say, I could feel a little lost with no one to please. I mean, what the hell am I supposed to do with no one to get ready for? I'll tell you what I'm gonna do. It's 2008 and I'm wearing my hair dark and straight, stripping the last 4 waist inches between me and a body I wouldn't trade with anyone, wearing heels all the time except when I'm exercising and taking Lola to Kojak Town. I'm focusing on being the woman I really want to be: not just career-focused as usual, but also gearing some real energy towards becoming a better person, someone other people want to be around and someone other people feel deserves the best in life. That means putting some work into learning how to be a better friend, a better relative, and a much better lover (more on that soon).

So, hit me up with your comments about what and who you plan to be in 2008. Leave a comment or email me (I reserve the right to slap your comments up on the blog, names changed ;o)).

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Public Displays of Affection: A New Years Resolution

"The best way to hold onto a man is in your arms."

-Mae West

"The hardest part is learning to be a well of affection, and not a fountain; to show them that we love them, not when we feel like it, but when they do."

-Nan Fairbrother

Speaking of new year's resolutions, I've got one.

Everyone wants to get love. There's nothing that feels better than when someone really loves you. A large part of relationships' appeal to men is the receipt of affection. Let's face it: most women really are Electras--they want the daddy-esque figure, someone they feel they can follow better than they can lead; and men really are Oepidial and want someone that can love them just as good as their mother. And yet I'm currently single? I'm one of the most maternal women I know, and, many have argued, the most passionate.

But here's the cold water and a little known fact: I'm not great with affection. Don't misread me: I'm naturally over-the-top mushy with family and friends. I love hugs and I love being close. I've found that with men I really like, the easiest way for me to achieve that closeness is through sex. So, I've employed that tactic. Of course, my last relationship--the longest I've ever dealt with someone, in fact-- got me the most comfortable with non-sexual affection. I was so deep in love that it was nothing to take his head in my lap and stroke it, nothing to kiss the palm of his hand as I held it. There were nights we climbed in bed and just spooned, no sex. When we had long talks, I had to sit in his lap and straddle his legs, press myself against him so I could feel his heart beat.

Oddly, guys I'm not crazy about or just passing time with can be certain to receive some tender love pats, impetuous kisses, random back rubs. In fact, I'm certain there are at least 20 guys out there who think I'm the sweetest, most affectionate chick they ever met. Conversely, there are a few guys out there I've truly cared for who think I'm just slightly colder than a Minnesota winter.

I'm not now, nor will I ever be the giggly type of girl who hangs all over a man, stroking his face incessantly and digging my nose in his neck. While I find this behavior mildly vomitous, I understand its appeal when you're truly in love. That said, I think my issue speaks to a larger problem, which is that of letting go in relationships. A control freak to the core, I hate the feeling of 'losing it', but I love the feeling of total abandon. I'm convinced this was the primary contributor to my confusing and vaguely memorable weedhead period in college.

I say all of this to say that I am making my first new years resolution. The next man I meet that I see potential in, that I like or grow to care for, I'm gonna be the woman I want to be. I'm not going to be nervous or scared of vulnerability, nor am I going to think about my past, my mistakes and love affairs that fell apart like a hot potato. I'm not going to think and rethink every little decision about tenderness. I'm not going to repress and hide my passion, my instincts, my warmth. Nah, I'm going to show him love.

Just maybe what I get back will be worth it.

Tell me what your first resolution is...can't wait to hear from you!!

Resolution #1

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Goose Is Getting Fat

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."

-Jim Davis

Merry Christmas!! If you're spending the holidays with your "boo" (yeah, I said it; sue me, it's Christmas), and you have to cook, good luck! It's almost first of the year, when we'll all be back in the gym again hard and heavy. My guilty admission is that I was so bad in 2007 and put on so many inches around this waist that I had to start in November. So before you begin kneeling back at the altar of the power lunge, here's a recipe for you. My favorite holiday dishes are turkey, candied yams, and cornbread, but since my grandmother would roll over in her grave like a tilt-o-whirl if I gave away her beloved candied yam recipe, I'll stick my own personal hotwater cornbread recipe here for you to try.

Ashleigh's Hot Water Cornbread

1 2/3 c. Cornmeal

1 3/4 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. white granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp. molasses

3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

3 tbsp. semi-melted butter

about 1 1/2 c. boiling water (use your best judgment)

vegetable oil (you can try olive oil; it does change the taste quite a bit, but it is healthier--macademia oil is expensive but the best for health and taste...gives it a pleasant nutty favor)

1/2 tbsp. salt

Combine the cornmeal, brown sugar, white sugar, molasses and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Mix in the semi-melted butter and pour in the boiling hot water. Stir until the butter is completely mixed in and melted.

Heat the oil (the appropriate temperature would be around 350/375, but again, use your judgment). While the oil is heating, shape the cornmeal mixture into little round circles. Place it in the oil to fry, making sure to fry it on both sides until it's your preferred color (best is golden brown). When you remove it, drain it on paper towels before serving.

Merry Christmas ladies!!

xo

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Friday, December 21, 2007

That Old Thing?

"Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity."

-H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

"In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity."

-Albert Einstein

God, it hurts. In fact, little feels worse. He's gone. Maybe you made the decision that it wasn't going anywhere or that it was going somewhere awful; maybe he told you he couldn't do it, or maybe he was just acting so terrible that it was apparent he didn't want it. Any way you slice it, though, the relationship you once cherished, the love you craved...gone. And it feels like someone is holding a knife in your stomach, twisting it every few hours. You go through your days with the biggest smiles, looking flawless--in fact, you've never looked better--and everyone comments on just how gorgeous you've been looking. When you get home, though, you kick off the stilettos, put on the biggest t-shirt you can find, curl up in a chair and cry. Or eat. Or stare at the wall, feeling numb. Or some variation of a combination of these things. When you're done with the pity session, you sit in silence, flicking channels, scrolling through old text messages in your phone, ignoring all your calls. Then you take a nap on the couch because getting in your bed will only make you think of him. You turn off your phone. You just can't deal with anyone right now.

After a week or two of this, you're hungry for fresh air and a feeling of being able to breathe. So you're out at Barnes & Noble or the grocery store or the gas station just doing you when some cool, attractive guy comes out of nowhere, introduces himself and for some odd reason--maybe recent insecurity, maybe newfound loneliness, maybe boredom, maybe just because you don't have the energy to say no--you give him your number. Of course he calls, and you go out with him. Deep down, you're determined to try to piece your life back together. He's actually a nice guy, and you agree to see him again. You talk to him on the phone a few times, grab a few meals. Then, one night, he invites you to hang out at his place. You kiss him and it's pleasant and sweet. It doesn't burn with the passion you've been missing from old dude, but this guy is relatively sexy, smart, and above all, in spite of your coquettish but firm resistance, he's totally committed to getting into a place inside of you that you've decided to hide. He is not seeing anyone else since he met you, even though it's only been a week. And his constant attention and compliments are slowly starting to make you feel better about your situation.

Then, out of nowhere, you get an email from your ex, or a call. Not to say or do anything of any significance, of course, but the interruption is just enough to throw you off-kilter and catapult you back to the proverbial "start" in the boardgame of getting over him. You stop taking calls from the new guy. What's the point? He calls for weeks, until he just...stops.

But what happened to that guy? He didn't die or skip the country. He still exists. You probably still have his number somewhere. He probably has yours. Rebounds rarely work out, but they don't just disappear into thin air when they don't. And since they're typically crazy about us--in addition to being great guys--how is it that they just fall to the wayside by the dozens in our lives? Every woman knows that the worst of love always brings a chaser of a prospective "best ever". Sadly, we're usually so wrapped up in the pain of the recent past that we can't give it the attention or weight it deserves. But it's possible that we've thrown away some our best chances at love. As women, are we so focused on mistakes that we can't get it right?

I found myself thinking today about all of the men I've dated. The number is significantly higher than the number of men I've slept with and about twenty times greater than the number of men I've loved. There's a reason for that. When one man almost destroys you, it's almost foolproof that right behind him is a great man who adores you. Unfortunately, at least in my experience, I can never muster much passion for these guys. I find myself questioning if it's the timing. Timing is the easiest answer, of course. And I don't doubt that it's a large reason of why these men never get the attention they deserve.

But I think it goes deeper. The first man that you begin seeing after the big killer is usually completely different than him. He's usually what your friends would consider an upgrade. But although you instinctively know that they're right, you don't feel that way deep inside. Instead, he feels unfamiliar and wrong. He makes you long for the wrongness that felt so right before. When you end things with the new guy, you move on to one, two, three more guys. Until...you finally find one that feels better than the rest. But what was the problem with that first guy? Is it just that he wasn't right? Or just wasn't for right now? And what would happen if you went back and tried to make it work now? Could you?

Would you?

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Another Reason To Fall In Love...

"In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?"

-Barack Obama

I've made no secret of the fact that I'm 100% Obama to the death. I've even considered being on of those truly ignorant people who writes in a name in November if their candidate doesn't win the summer primary (no worries for the diehards, I'm totally committed to a Republican-free executive office for at least 8 years...) Anyhow, here's just another reason why I'm Obama-ing my life:

I'm telling you, one day I will be proud to welcome Sasha and Malia to our ranks, ladies. They are truly some beautiful little girls! And you gotta love Mama Obama's body languge, that hardcore lock on her husband's leg that screams "do NOT let your gaze go too far past my hand because I don't play that...". I mean...we all saw the sideways glances she was giving Oprah in New Hampshire. Even Oprah! Michelle is the Truth. The nervous little love taps she gives him here are really sweet, too. Bet you won't hear too much about infidelity in that camp. Obama looks like he doesn't even want to be alone with himSELFtoo long for fear of cheating...

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Girl Power

"Men play the game; women know the score." -Roger Woddis

We're taking over the world! Buena suerte, Cristina!

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sag In My Swag

"The lovesick, the betrayed, and the jealous all smell alike."

-Sidonie Gabrielle Collette

There is a magic to a sexy woman who feels confident about herself. A woman who steps out into the world every day feeling good from head to toe---you can see it clearly in the way she carries herself. Head up, shoulders back...a mean "Crazy In Love" video-esque stomp to her walk, runway-ready glide. There is something to a woman who moves through life with a sly smirk on her lips because she has a secret: she really is, underneath it all, the Truth. More Truth than you might even guess--and you'd guess that if she wasn't, she was pretty damn close. This, my friends, is what we call swagger.

Swagger wakes me up in the morning and lays me down at night. Life, to me, is nothing without it. I have different swaggers: I've got my gorgeous swagger when I'm feeling my face, my fine swagger when I'm feeling my curves, I've got what Kim and I call the "Jesus swagger" when I'm feeling extra favored, and I've got my sexy swagger all the time, absolutely no exceptions. My spicy, silky swagger is what I love most about myself. It's the way I stick and move, the way I get in and get out unscathed by what should scorch me. Most of the time it's there for me and it serves me well.

One place swagger is always useful is in love. When you truly believe that you're the business, so will a man. And even more, it doesn't matter so much what he thinks because you think it. And to take it a step further, when you truly think it, any other woman on his radar or wanting to be on his radar can't help but know it. Swagger wards them off, but even more it protects your heart and shields you from the insecurity and jealousy that can creep up on you in love situations. When relationships aren't exclusive--and we all know I've struggled with the concept of exclusivity for years--other women in the equation or trying to be in the equation normally don't phase me. The most they can do is make me take a second look, but they never knock me off of my pedestal. SB had a constant harem of women trying to get with him. I saw their pictures and texts and emails. And in hindsight, we now know he was probably having sex with every last one of them. However, my attitude was always very "are you kidding me with this chick?" Not that they weren't pretty; they were always pretty, ranging from cute to knockout beautiful. But just looking at them you could tell they were either stupid, lame, ignorant or all three. I felt that not one of them could touch all I was working with: grounded, spiritual, ambitious, beautiful, talented, intelligent, nurturing, super loving, understanding, motivating, crazy passionate, crazy sex appeal, crazy sex drive, creativity, and above all, I was cool as a fan on high--flexible, self-maintained, generally undemanding. I just felt like putting any of those girls next to me in a lineup was about as futile as comparing jersey to egyptian cotton, truffles to Twix. It wasn't worth the comparison.

And yet, all women meet their match or something like it. Including me. Maybe especially me. I don't know. I won't give up my crown to anyone, but I have to admit that this time, this girl...there's something there. She's fly. She seems like she has some stuff going on for herself. And me, I'm experiencing an emotion unrecognizable to me until recently. I'm a little jealous. I find myself wishing she was even a little homely. Or didn't look like she has a little swagger of her own.

The flame was lit in September when I first saw her and has slowly sizzled into a small fire of jealousy. Even as I type I feel the flame going out, and yet, it's still so foreign a sentiment that it deserves examination.

We should all feel good about ourselves as often as we can. Swagger is important, but as with anything, too much can be a bad thing. In a way, I'm happy this happened. We all know that too often, we grow to take things about ourselves for granted. Maybe I've taken my confidence as a woman for granted. Maybe I've gone overboard feeling myself from time to time. And maybe this is exactly what I needed to be grateful for the ability to love myself. A lesser woman would be broken. And yet, I'm blessed with the strength to make it through anything, and this is a minor blip on the radar for someone who's lived my life. And yet, it has the capability to consume me, even if just for a few nights. I'm going to grasp the silver lining here. Maybe sometimes it takes someone else with just a little of what we've got to remind us how richly blessed we really are.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I Can See Your Epidermis

"Just as bones, tissues, intestines, and blood vessels are enclosed in a skin that makes it possible to bear the sight of a human being, so the agitations and passions of the soul are wrapped up in vanity: it is the soul’s skin." -Freidrich Nietzsche

Skin is so important. Some women spend so much time on their face that they forget about their bodies. And there is nothing like silky, soft, sexy skin. Want to make a man fall in love with you? Let him touch an arm that feels like velvet. No man forgets wildly soft skin, it's impossible. As a severely ashy child, my mother put a lot of emphasis on making my skin supple--and am I glad she did. Yes, I have a mild obsession with my skin, but it is always on point. It's still naturally dry, but you'd never know it.
So in the first of many Christmas gifts to my girls, I'm gonna put you up on some skin game--so when you're getting one of your Christmas presents from your man (wink, wink), you'll be giving one at that same time.
I know what it is to be broke, so I'm gonna put the luxury and correspondingly boughetto version of each step to give you some choices--you know women love choices!
Exfoliate
All exfoliation is NOT the same. And if you have sensitive skin, over-exfoliation can do you in and cause a ton of redness and irritation. That said, your exfoliant should have a great oil base to it. Each step in your skincare regimen needs to have a moisture component--this is key to beautiful skin. The "I'm Filthy Rich" or more prevalent "I Just Got A Christmas Bonus" Recommendation is:
Of course, you know I'm going to refer to Origins first. Modern Friction for the Body is just as great of a product as the face formula. You apply it to your dry skin, focusing on elbows, knees and other rough spots, then add a little water and rub it in. When you rinse clean, you'll see it is the perfect first step to a glow. It has a nice lemon scent that's not that Bonne Bell-esque citrusy smell, but a pleasant, clean aroma. Wonderful product. (Boughetto plug: This is a $38 product, so be sure you like it first. Just as a note, all Origins stores do prepare samples, so feel free to ask. Once you use it once, trust me you'll want to buy it!).
The "I'm Not Tryin To Spend More Than $20" Version is:
Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy Collection Sugar Scrub is a fantastic product, that I would actually use on my Modern Friction off-days anyway. The "Sensuality" scent (which, this season, is Black Currant Vanilla) is always my favorite because of the musky undertones. I won't lie and say the sugar scrub is going to do exactly what Modern Friction does, because honestly, there is a reason for the $18 difference and it's not just label. But one advantage the sugar scrub has is that it's floating an ocean of satiny oil and leaves your skin ridiculously moisturized. Another plus is that the smell is so intoxicating that you don't have to wear perfume if you use this in the shower. (And after years of telling secrets, I'll go ahead and prove that I still can't keep anything to myself and tell you now what I should tell you in February: the Spring version of this collection's sensuality scent, Sandalwood, is the absolute best and you should look forward to it and stock up when it comes around because it's only around a few months of the year!).
The "I'm Broke/Cheap/Would Rather Eat Out Than Exfoliate" Recommendation is:
Oh yes. Good old-fashioned country sea salt, mixed in with a little mineral oil. Yes, mineral oil as in laxative formula mineral oil. And yes, I know it's country and so am I, but I like to use this every now and then for good measure whether I have the cash for the expensive stuff or not. It keeps me grounded, and frankly, it works incredibly well for under $5. You have enough quarters in your car to pick up sea salt (which, by the way is different from table salt, so check the package carefully) and a travel size mineral oil from the grocery store or even (gasp) The Dollar Store. The preference here is mineral oil and not baby oil because it's thicker and you can also use it as a post-shower moisturizer, but in its absence baby oil is a suitable substitute.
Cleanse
Choice of cleanser, in my opinion, is really personal. That said, I won't push too much new stuff on you.
The "I Mean Really Clean" Recommendation is: If something about expensive cleansers turns you on or makes you feel cleaner, then you should try H2O's line, specifically either the Mint Ice Body Wash or the Almond Shower Gel. I mean, if something about expensive cleansers makes you feel cleaner and you want to feel really clean, buy La Mer, but I'm gonna keep it hundred and let you know I haven't used it. Knowing La Mer it's beyond on point, but in the absence of sixty bucks for what is essentially soap (don't ever repeat that aesthetician's sacrilege or tell them I said it), the H2O products are fantastic.
Whatever you choose, I'll be using the safe bet for whether the bank account is flush or nearly in the red, and that's Aveeno.
Aveeno has several great formulas and they're all under $10; I'm partial to the Skin Relief Body Wash, but they have something for everyone so check out their line.

The "Really, I have $20 Until Payday" Recommendation is:

Now, I really only suggest bar cleanser for lady parts, but if things are tight and you'd rather keep your shower sacred and not be reminded of your hand-to-mouth status with the always horrible Irish Spring bar (and you know what I mean), then try Oil of Olay's Olay Age Defying Moisturizing Bar. Either way, it's a treat for the vajayjay...
Moisturize!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The most important step in a super important set of steps to glowing skin is moisturizing. You can be exfoliated to the point of being tender to the touch and clean as a whistle, but if you're covered in pale white ash, no one's gonna know!!
First off, whether you're rolling in dough or clipping coupons, EVERYONE should use mineral oil following a shower. It's cheap and it's amazing, simply the best oil anywhere for locking in moisture. Put it on while you're still wet or damp and you'll be stunned to find yourself unable to find an ashy spot even hours later. It will literally change your life. If you currently use baby oil, just know that baby oil is only a diluted version of mineral oil. Pure mineral oil is super cheap(Target has a generic version that's $1.50) and more effective and not only will you love the immediate results, but you'll be in Heaven when you see the change in your skin after a couple weeks of regular use.
Follow up with a good cream or lotion, depending on how dry your skin is. I love Aveeno's Daily Moisturizing Lotion, which is good and affordable. Put it over the mineral oil while you're still a little damp, air dry, and you won't believe how good you feel. Again, you could do La Mer if that's your bag...I actually HAVE tried their body cream and it's amazing. But I'm assuming most of us mid-twenties girls are still watching the wallets!
Happy Skin Caring!!

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