A Merry Little Christmas

bowI feel so remiss, not getting here sooner to wish you all a merry Whatever Holiday You Celebrate. I hope your days have been merry and bright. Ours have been lovely, filled with friends and family and hoop-de-doo. The Pea’s been over here a lot. We shared in the celebration of her third birthday–a week later,  Christmas. I think she believes that the entire month of December has been staked out specifically for her. She got spoiled rotten, and we had more fun watching her open her gifts than we did our own. Her Mom’s away at boot camp, and everyone’s doing their best to fill the gap. We need to build a new toy wing. We need a new closet. She needs a frickin’ shoe rack.

Santa was wonderful to me and mine, and we feel incredibly fortunate this year. I don’t want to make you jealous or anything, but my husband is the most romantic man in the universe. A few days before Christmas, he went shopping and returned a short time later. He was a man on a mission, and he’d returned from his mission quickly. He wrapped his purchase and placed it beneath the tree. I was intrigued. It was a small box, wrapped in red paper, the size of oh–say. a jewelry box. “What’s in that box?” I asked him, but he just grinned. I picked it up and shook it.  It was heavier than jewelry, but I wouldn’t have put it past him to weight the thing, just to throw me off his trail.

I’m horrible at Christmastime. I worry that I’ve decorated inadequately. I have mall-o-phobia. I become anxiety-ridden that I haven’t bought the Right Thing for the Right Person, and I fret about our budget. I always feel like a complete failure. Worst of all, I am nosy as hell when it comes to my own gifts. If I was a cat, and if what they say about cats and curiosity is true, I’d be writing this from the Spirit World. I rattle packages and feel their weight and try to obtain hints in subtle ways, like asking four-hundred times, “So, whadja get me?” Amadeus stays as tight-lipped as a Mafia don in an interrogation room. This year, he ended up waiting until the last minute to wrap my other gifts, probably because he didn’t want to live with a seven-year-old wife any longer than he had to.

While I suck at the Christmas thing, Amadeus is fabulous. He chooses the most perfect presents–straight-from-the-heart items that mean the world to me. He could wrap a jar of olives and there would be some amazingly deep, sentimental meaning behind it. They would be exactly the right size, shape and color. Those olives would make me cry. So, I knew that whatever was in that box was amazing, with a capital “zing.”

I’m as serious as angina when I tell you that there’s not much I want or need. I’d asked for house slippers, a make-up mirror and plastic surgery, because I’m old and blind and those are things that old and blind people need. But that little red box couldn’t have possibly held those things, and I was dying. What was in there? Something special, something unique, something I’d love.

“Would you like some more coffee?” I’d ask my beloved, “And what’s inside that box?”

“Yes, and I’m not telling,” he’d answer.

“Didn’t you love the movie we watched last night? And what’s inside that box?”

(Silence…)

When The Big Day arrived, we opened our gifts. I got everything I requested (except for the plastic surgery) and then some. Like some sadistic guard at Gitmo, Amadeus made me save the little red box for last. I patiently waited for him to open his presents, and we hugged and kissed and thanked each other. Christmas with him is nice and warm and smushy. Between you and me, he’s my greatest gift ever, and he could have gotten by with just sitting near me, playing guitar and talking. It would have saved him a bunch of money. But let’s not tell him this.

The lights of our tiny tree twinkled, the Grandpea’s stocking was hung by the chimney with care, Theo the Wonderdog® looked swell in the little Santa hat that Amadeus had gotten him. It was all perfect and great, but there was still one lonely little gift sitting there, and it desperately needed me to open it. Finally, Amadeus gave me the green light. I ripped the bow and the red paper off the box and gazed upon its contents. There inside was the most beautiful, lovingly chosen, dreamy gift of all time; small, round and beautiful, its smooth, silver surface twinkled up at me like a million stars from the heavens above.

It was a new Daiwa Silvercast 120 closed-face, spincast fishing reel, lovingly threaded with supple 8-pound green-tinted test line, as romantic a present as any I can imagine. Oh my gosh, I love my husband. Once again, he managed to find the perfect gift. I can’t wait for spring, so that I can sit beside him on a riverbank under a sunny blue sky and cast my hook. Watch out, fishies, here I come!

A Loud But Tiny Portal

I will look much like this after I've won the lottery. I treasure my anonymity. I wrap it around myself like a burrito wraps itself around beans. It allows me to write whatever I want. It (usually) keeps me from offending people. It makes me falsely brave, and allows me to share deep, neurotic confidences with strangers. Like this one, for example. I know, it also means that I’m chicken shit, but I’ll go with that. I’ve always maintained that being invisible frees me up creatively. I try to stay honest, and I try to stay true, but really, if all my real-life friends and family were reading the things I post, it would seriously cramp my style. I’d be disowned, disavowed, disinherited from my vast family fortune and by now, fired from about six different jobs.

So I hide. I like hiding.

It’s become a bit complicated lately. My blog friend. Wendy and her husband, Buck, recently hired me to write for them, and it’s been wonderful and fun and fantastic. I’m meeting new people, telling their stories, and making them happy. I’m taking photos of their motorcycles, which in essence are bikers’ babies, and who wouldn’t be delighted to have someone brag about their baby? Who wouldn’t be thrilled to do that for a living? I know I am.

In the beginning, when I first  started writing for them, Wendy said, “I realize that this is going to cause you to have a panic attack, but y’know, at some point we’re going to need a picture of you. We show photos of all of our writers.” Bear in mind that after all these years, Wendy’s never seen me. In fact, I use my blog name when we speak on the phone (I do have a few friends who call me “Moonie,” so that’s not such a big deal), and I always use a pseudonym when I write. Still, when she told me this, I promptly agreed to comply, then conveniently forgot all about it.

It all goes back to anonymity. I’m glad that you can’t see me, that you have no preconceived notions about me based on the way I look, unless perhaps you imagine me like that little photo in the upper right hand corner of this page. But mostly, I like it that the words go from my fingertips to your brain, with no visuals of me to clog things up.  I could look like Quasimodo’s big sister, and you’d never know.

A few weeks ago, I spoke to Buck on the phone, and he brought up the subject of my name, which isn’t really my name, but in a way kind of is. “I think you should be writing under the name ‘Moonbeam’,” he said.

“I can’t.” I whined. “I’m just kind of weird about it. I want to keep my blog writing separate from my other writing. I don’t want to mess with my online persona. I don’t want to confuse my readers.”

“Yeah,” he laughed. “Because your blog makes you so much money.” Touché.

Anyway, none if this is really what this blog post is about. What this blog post is about is that, at the root of all of these neuroses, is a deficiency in self-esteem. I’m less than fond of the way I look, especially in profile. I hate having pictures taken of myself, and have gone so far as to contact friends on Facebook to request that they remove my visage, so as to keep from upchucking on my computer screen. It mortifies me. I’m fighting with middle age (okay, old age), and while I like the way I look just fine in my mind, a photographic image serves as a reminder that what I see in my head is not what the rest of the world sees. It’s a phobia, and I’ve had it since childhood.

So Wendy called me again. “We need a photo.”

Buck e-mailed me. “We need a photo.” I started getting hives.

I contacted my daughter and asked her if she’d shoot some pictures of me, knowing that she is the only person on Earth patient enough to snap 14,000 images so that maybe, just maybe, I could cull one good one. I’m also comfortable enough with her so that my face doesn’t contort into a series of blinks, tics, scowls and other assorted unpleasant expressions during the photographic process. She agreed to do it.

By the way, Wendy is the Queen of Photoshop, and this made me feel a little less anxious. I’ve seen evidence of her skillz. She swore she could make me blonde and twenty, and I believed her. “You’re like a surgeon,” I told her earnestly.

My daughter took a bunch a photos, and a few were actually almost decent. I e-mailed five head shots to Wendy.  “Feel free to remove all wrinkles, gray hairs and pores,” I wrote. In actuality, I wanted her to remove my head, but that seemed a little overboard.

She sent me back a very sweet e-mail. “You’re beautiful,” she lied. “I hardly had to do anything to it. Let me know what you think.” I opened the attached, Photoshopped picture, expecting to be airbrushed to the hilt. I was hoping for goddess, though I would’ve settled for soccer mom. But what Wendy did was to correct a flaw that I didn’t know I had.  A new flaw, another body part to obsess about.

Wendy gave me lips.

“Oh my god,” I told Amadeus. “Wendy gave me lips.” They weren’t big, pookie Angelina Jolie lips; she just added a little padding, a little definition.

I thought I’d completed my mental list of plastic surgery objectives long ago. The eye lift, the face lift, rhinoplasty, chin-oplasty, implants, the waist-to-knee liposuction, the works. But I’d honestly never considered my lips. Okay, maybe I had, but I guess I was in denial about the extent of my imperfection. I hadn’t realized I needed a Photoshop intervention.

This transpired a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been thinking lips ever since. Keep in mind that this was all for one damned photo, no bigger than a postage stamp, in a magazine that’s only read by bikers.  Still, I’m a professional worrier (PW), and I can’t stop thinking about my lack of lipped-ness. I looked up facercises online, and I’m now doing twenty sets of lip lifts, six times a day. It’s not working.

Tonight, I was looking at photos of Kate Middleton, that British chick who, by the time you read this, will have married Prince, or a prince of some sort. Her photo’s plastered all over my Yahoo mail page, and as I saw Her Thinness waving at her soon-to-be subjects, I noticed that A: She’s beautiful, and B: She’s got thinner lips than I do. This made me happy, but it also made me wonder what other beautiful people suffer from liplessness. I do plan to be beautiful one day, once I’ve won the lottery and completed the Plastic Surgery Wish List, so I started researching.

“Famous women with thin lips,” I Googled.

And so, without further ado, I present my newly compiled List of the Lipless.

Kate Middleton

Kate Moss

Kate Hudson

I wondered– was there a link between being named Kate and having no lips? I quickly looked up other Kates. Katie Couric has no lips at all, and Katy Perry is lacking in upper lip, but Kate Capshaw, Kate Beckinsale and Kate Winslet are pouty, so my theory quickly died.

Jennifer Aniston was listed as lipless, as were Heidi Klum and Reba McEntire. Gwyneth Paltrow is top lipless.  Nicole Kidman used to have lips as thin as rubber bands, but apparently has adopted some fatter ones.

I’m sure there are more lip deficient celebrities, but I had to stop there. My hives were starting to come back. Amadeus, who’s a band instructor and a musician and a sweetie, told me that lips like mine are very good for playing french horn. I wonder which is cheaper, collagen injections or a ten pound brass instrument.

Anyway, I’m taking my angsty self to bed. I’ll do my lip lifts while  praying for the people of  Japan. Then I’ll  fade out, dreaming of playing the french horn in a punk band.

How You Doin’?

Amadeus and I are moving into the new condo this weekend, and we’re working fast and furiously to get it all done.  The Grandpea is supervising, and she’s doing a fantastic job. I think she grew the mustache to make herself appear more authoritative, and it seems to be working. We should be finished tomorrow.