Archive for August, 2011
Dear (my) Body,
How are you?
Listen, I’m going to cut to the chase. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I was so insensitive to you for all these years. Throwing junk food and sugar into you, diet sodas and pizza, cookies and cake. (Though, to be fair, you kind of tricked me into thinking that’s what you wanted.)
Worse than the food, though, I’m sorry I smoked pot – occasionally – for years. Yeah, I know I haven’t done it for years, but still, I’m especially sorry since I’ve learned from my chiro-healer guy that pot is horrible for the body, that it targets each person’s weak points and makes them weaker, and that it even causes mold to grow on the brain – I mean, EW! MOLD???!! That is SO GROSS!!! I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I didn’t know!
While I’m at it, I’m also sorry I put cocaine into you a few times, and ecstasy too.
So… now that we’ve got all that out of the way…
Can you do me a favor? I mean, you know, after you forgive me, and everything. Here goes: Can you please suck back in my stomach? I’m doing Pilates, I’m working out, I’m eating healthily… I KNOW I KNOW, I had some kids. So what!?
I WANT MY FLAT STOMACH BACK!!!
YOU HEAR ME?
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)
I called my doctor “Ed” yesterday. I had referred my friend to him for treatment, and when I arrived for my appointment, I saw her in the supplements/crystals/vitamins room with him (he’s a chiropractor-healer), so I walked in to say hello.
“Hi, honey!” I hugged my friend. And to my doctor: “Hi, Ed!”
Ed didn’t look at me.
“Uh –“ I corrected myself, “Hi, Dr. Wagner!”
He still didn’t answer – so probably, he just didn’t hear me. Versus what I was feeling, which was that he had ignored me because I was too familiar with him.
Still. It got me thinking…
I went to a grade school and high school, GDS, that – along with being one of the most exclusive private schools in Washington, DC – has the unique distinction of mandating – not just allowing, or tolerating – but MANDATING, that the kids call the teachers by their first names. Principal and staff too.
Like, the vice principal that all the girls had a crush on? Kevin. My favorite English teacher? John. My principal? I don’t actually remember his name, but, you know, it was probably Bob. Gladys was our founder.
So, maybe it’s GDS’s fault. You know, for my insubordination. For my lack of proper respect. For… “Ed.”
It’s not that I have a problem calling other adults “Mr.”, “Mrs.” or “Dr.” I just forget that I’m supposed to, and if I do, it feels weird on my tongue, like I’m playing at being respectful instead of actually being respectful.
I should add that I don’t expect, nor do I desire, for my kids’ friends to call me “Mrs. Vaknin.” Holy hell, I mean, I shudder to think. If I could learn to pronounce “BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin)” then by golly, so can they!
Plus, I think the de-mystification of adults by kids is a good thing. Mrs. Robinson was a hot mama. Who could resist her? Now, if it had been “Gretchen” or “Alice” or “Ethel” Robinson, or whatever her first name was?
I’m thinking the sexual transgression would have been avoided.
You feel me, Ed?
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)
I have always loved to read.
… certain types of books, that is…
I’m a fast reader, voracious, if I’m into the book. Well-written chic lit novels rank up there next to female comedienne memoirs (give me Bridget Jones’ Diary or Bedwetter any day, I will EAT THEM for lunch!). I love David Sedaris, and I LOVE those incredible, incredible, timeless novels like Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, Middlesex, Anywhere but Here, and the legendary Bastard out of Carolina.
Back in my theatre days I poured over plays – Chekhov, Stoppard, Williams, Shepard, Albee, Kushner, Durang, Mamet, Shakespeare… the list is endless and soooo many amazing amazing writers.
In high school I was obsessed with short story writers, Flannery O’Connor, O’Henry, and Carver being my all-time faves.
I have always loved and still enjoy uplifting memoirs and autobiographies – Autobiography of a Yogi and Many Lives, many Masters come to mind, as does Angela’s Ashes. Yes, duh, of course I loved Eat, Pray, Love. If you read it, so did you.
Kids books? Sometimes. Harry Potter, yes, Lemony Snicket not so much (hello, happy endings, people?!)…
Magazines? New Yorker, yeah, baby. The Week? Crack.
When I first started studying Kabbalah in 2001, I couldn’t get enough of the books – The Way was the first one I obsessed over; later came The 72 Names of God, Education of a Kabbalist, Secret Codes of the Universe, and God Wears Lipstick. But then I got into oversaturation mode and now, even though I have a brief blip of excitement whenever I see a new title (Writings of Rav Ashlag, wow!), I have not been able to bring myself to read an entire Kabbalah Centre book from start to finish in years.
Worse, though, are financial books. These are books, I might add, that are even more important for me to read than the Kabbalah books, because whereas I am still learning about spirituality from the weekly classes I take and lectures I hear, I learn nothing about financial wellness anywhere except in bite-size meaningless pieces spit out by the Yahoo.com machine.
And I could use some help in that area.
But I just can’t seem to focus. I mean, I cannot finish a financial educational book even if you promise me a chocolate bar and a Hawaiian vacation upon its completion. (It’s a little embarrassing that I actually place chocolate BEFORE Hawaii as my potential incentive, but I gotta be me, right?)
My friend recommended one book specifically for people like me & my husband, who are reliant upon ‘freelance’ fees (me, as a writer, and him, as a general contractor – no salaries, no 401Ks, you know?) and I bought it immediately.
Reading it? Didn’t happen quite so fast. I did glance through it. And then….
!!!!! Sorry folks!!!!!!
Just THINKING about that book put me right to sleep.
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)
Ok, so… writing yesterday about Reverse Intuition’s role in hypochondria (ie – as an occasional hypochondriac, deep down in my subconscious, I believe that by “feeling I may have a tumor” I will, in the end, actually NOT have a tumor), I decided I may as well go ahead & ‘splain to all you regular folk just what the heck in tarnation “Reverse Intuition” means.
You know how some people are just, like, intuitive? These are the people who are like, “I have a feeling I’m going to get this job” and then they get the job, or, as more often happens, they get the job and THEN they reveal, “I had a FEELING that would happen!!” etc., etc. Or, if you are my husband, and lost in the labyrinth of the downtown Los Angeles freeways, your intuition guides you safely away from Compton and the City of industry, homeward bound.
Not so much me.
I’m that lady you may have seen on those self-same freeways (or in the Hollywood Hills, or over by National and Overland, I mean, come on that area is like the Bermuda Triangle!) – alone, in her car, panic (mixed with tears) in her eyes, screaming curse words to herself and pounding the steering wheel – a lady who is obviously lost and just getting lost-er by the minute.
The problem is my reverse intuition. Since I was old enough to walk, I would walk out of a store and immediately walk the WRONG DIRECTION back to the car (you know, the car that belonged to a stranger, since ours was parked the opposite direction). At least now, when friends ask for my opinion about directions if we are lost (my husband already knows better), I am wise and experienced enough to answer, “Well, my intuition tells me to stay on the 405. So we’d better get over to the 5 immediately.”
My dreams have worked in similar fashion – I dreamed of being a millionaire by age 25, was sure that it would happen. Yeah. Right.
My sleep dreams too: Years ago, the night before my boyfriend’s all-important interview with Yale to see if he would get into Yale Drama school, I had a VIVID dream that he did not get into Yale, and I was sobbing because of it. When I awoke, I was rattled… and cautiously optimistic…
… and sure enough, he got in! I was right! I mean – uh – well, I was “wrong” but my Reverse Intuition was right!
You know what I mean. Don’t you?
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)
Okay, maybe it was just a pimple. This time. But still, for a second there… I wasn’t sure.
It doesn’t make sense. I’m (somewhat) enlightened. I study Kabbalah. I believe in mind over matter. (Haven’t quite gotten the hang of practicing it, but that’s a different story.) I go to my homeopathic doctor for treatment of 99% of my issues or my kids’ sicknesses… and it works. I’m young (at least in my head), I’m fit, I am smart…
So why, after two hours of experiencing an ache in my ear (not inside the canal, in the ear itself), an ache that I couldn’t properly look at because of the difficulty looking inside one’s own ear, did I allow the thought to float into my head that maybe I have a tumor?
Chas V’Shalom! (shout out to all my Israeli & Kabbalah friends)
Forget the fact that I know that tumors generally don’t pop up overnight and create a soreness all around the surface area of the skin. Not to mention, once the nanny arrived and I had her inspect the ear closely under the light, even my poor Spanish was enough to help me understand that what she described seeing was less “tumor-esque” and more “pimple-esque”.
That was my original thought – it must be a pimple. (Sorry to keep grossing you all out with that word & image, but it’s central to my storyline here.) But a few hours alone, (pre-nanny inspection), without an adult to confirm visually what I suspected, left an opening in my mind to let in the monster that is… HYPOCHONDRIA.
I used to be worse. As a child, I suffered from various illnesses, including migraines, IBS, TMJ, and yes, even fake headaches and braces. And each time, I imagined something much, much worse was going on. Which was never the case.
Which makes me wonder…
Do we hypochondriacs think ourselves into a panic because, somewhere deep down, we believe in Reverse Intuition, which says, “That which we predict will therefore not occur”?
This type of thinking is does not exactly hold true for a deeply spiritual person, who believes our thoughts dictate the physical. And I do believe this… in theory. But… in practice…
I mean, look at Woody Allen. Typical hypochondriac – healthy as can be! And, obviously, worrying about the Worst Case Scenario has kept Woody in tip-top shape, so why should he change?
I certainly don’t want to “bring that type of energy into my life” (AKA the energy of a tumor – CHAS V’SHALOM!). But I also can’t seem to stop those sneaky little thoughts from popping into my head.
Plus I’ve always loved Woody Allen. I mean, did you see Midnight in Paris?
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)
Everything about the early eighties conspired to make me look super fugly – the headgear, the bright makeup colors (SO clashed with my olive-y-ish skin), the white lipstick (see afore-mentioned olive skin note), the shoulder pads (admittedly, those made everyone look terrible), the flipped hair…
Ah, the flipped hair.
I used to spend up to 30 minutes in the bathroom with a comb, carefully combing forward my grown-out bangs until the comb ALMOST reached the tips of my hair, and then – FLIP! – flipped the whole flap of hair expertly back so that it created a wall of feathers.
At least, that was my fantasy. The reality was much grimmer, as I’ve never been any good at styling my own hair. I was doomed and destined to walk the halls of my 5th grade year: metal-mouthed and feather hair-impaired, super tall, supper skinny, and – duh – insecure.
So imagine my joy when I fell in love… and he fell in love with me too! Jackson was [not] his name [what, you think I’m going to out the poor guys here??], and God bless him, he must have been a good four or five inches shorter than me. Picture that dancing with my ten year old self on the dance floor of our junior high school slow dance. Stairway to Heaven, baby! Hot, right?
But sitting down we were the same height… So sitting down is how we lost our French kissing virginity – right in the back of the movie theater showing what I believe may literally have been the worst movie ever (at least in the eyes of any self-respecting pre-teen): Cross Creek. In other words, the PERFECT makeout movie, because we didn’t need to waste time watching the screen.
And make out we did (with our tongues, anyway) – our two braces-filled mouths clacking away at each other.
No, we didn’t get stuck.
It was awesome.
For a few moments, I didn’t even care about my imperfectly flipped hair.
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)
I used to be that little girl – dreaming and fantasizing that I would somehow be lucky enough to get glasses, braces and a broken leg. (Duh! For the cast that everyone signs!) I wanted the chicken pox too.
What? A little girl can dream, can’t she?
Look, every kid goes through their little ‘wish I had what Johnny and Susie have’ phase. Just so happened that my longings centered around broken bones, metal teeth restraints, infectious disease and corrective eyewear. Perhaps my parents’ sudden divorce the summer I turned six played a part in my particular fantasies, but what do I know, I’m no therapist! All I know, is that I wanted these things so badly that I faked ongoing headaches and difficulty reading until my mother finally caved and took me to get my eyes checked.
For an amateur attention-seeker, faking the eye exams — figuring out which letters to lie about not being able to see and which to admit were crystal clear – would have presented a challenge. Not for me! I was a born actress. Looking through the ophthalmologist’s microscope-like contraption, some letters actually were blurry. I was so “in the moment” I didn’t even have to pretend.
I came home that day with a prescription – the glasses were mine!
It came time to pick out a pair. This was around 1980. There was no Prada, no Fendi, no Ralph Lauren kids frames – at least none that my mother was about to buy her eight year old little faker. So while I was SOOO excited about getting the glasses, the reality of having the glasses was…
They didn’t enhance my looks, let’s put it that way. So I never used them. My mom got super suspicious when she never saw me wearing them. I didn’t want to never be able to fake her out again, (oh yes, I learned my lesson from that kid who cried ‘wolf’ all the damned time), so I had to use the glasses occasionally and slowly fake my way to developing “stronger eyes” again, which took about six months.
I think God got suspicious too, but unlike my gullible mom, He was totally onto me, and decided to teach me a lesson by making me really, actually, and not-fakingly need braces.
And a headgear.
Do I even have to describe for you the ripped up gums, food stuck between the shiny glued-on brackets, and the scraping sound of metal as I inserted the headgear tubing into its socket every night?
Wait – don’t leave! – I didn’t even tell you about the thick, dried, snail-like trail of saliva drool I would have to scrape off my cheeks every morning with my fingernails because the headgear kept my mouth open all night!
ANyway, I totally got God back when I finally got my braces off – because I got to have a retainer, and everyone knows RETAINERS are cool! You can flip them in your mouth, take it out and put it back in, smack it loudly in the middle of math class… My retainer ruled.
And then I guess God gave me a pass, because I never did break my leg and “get my dream come true” of a cast – though perhaps He was involved in the incident when I was 24, at a wrap party on the Santa Monica Airport Tarmac, and drunkenly crashed a golf cart down some stairs and broke my wrist into an “S” shape…
Ooooh, I’m gonna get Him!
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)
My friend, the uber-blogger Shwugo Hytzer, who has around 8 million dedicated followers (at least it seems that way when they all weigh in on his Facebook wall), gave me a heads up that he would be posting a blog today (Tues) that would reference a conversation we had the other week.
“You mean the conversation where you insisted there is no difference between men and women, after which I metaphorically kicked your ‘expert in gender studies’ ass as you walked me to my car and protected me from monsters and rapists?” I [wish I had] replied.
“Yeah, that one,” Shwugo [would have] conceded [had I really said that to begin with].
“Do you want me to include your real name, or do you want to remain anonymous?” he actually did ask me [being that he is a chivalrous dude].
“Bring it on!” I replied foolishly, hoping his millions of devotees would immediately hop on the Grownup Girl bandwagon and my Google Analytic numbers would finally jump out of the tepid 2 digits.
Of course it occurred to me that those same devotees may turn fiendishly against me and decide to set fire to my house, or worse, disagree with me. Plus, Shwugo has haters – would his haters hate me too? I have always said it’s important to be able to take criticism, and I have never listened to myself. Will I listen this time?
Time, dear readers, will tell.
Oh – and for those of you Shwugo followers who are still reading this blog, even after finding out that I’m basically into joking around and I’m not particularly interested in arguing or explaining why the physical bodies of men and women are different [but if you insist, I’ll explain it’s because our spiritual makeup is different and therefore our roles in this world are also different, DUH!]… check out these blogs, & hopefully they will make you laugh. Or light a match.
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)