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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I'm a woman who shaves her face and neck.

I have had it with the tweezers.
Oh they were fun. There were the red lights and the rear view mirrors, the moments in the children parks on the large mirrored surfaces with perfect light, there were other people's bathrooms with other lights, and the joy of finding that perfect moment with a suitable light / mirror combination and the tweezers in hand. Pluck and scan and pluck and scan.
It all started when I was forty. I was brushing my teeth one morning as I am wont to do and BAM! there it was on my right jowl, just at the level of the mandible, catching the sunlight in my mother's bathroom. I touched it and it was thin and long and I wondered how long it had hung out there growing on its own with nary so much as a note to me. I reached for my mom's tweezer and pulled it out. The end.
It was a busy time then, mom was in stage IV of pancreatic cancer. I was driving back and forth from NYC to be with her during the week so my sister who's children were in school would be able to be there on week ends. My life was falling apart on many levels. I had just lost the home I'd known for over a decade, been declared disabled and left my work as an ESL teacher, found myself on a bridge ready to jump only to return to first avenue and find my way to bellevue in a posture of complete weepy surrender. I had also learned, while ringing a lover's bell, that being forty meant that one could wet their pants while sneezing. Ah, the unneccessary mysteries of aging.
So, when I saw that same hair there again a week later, I plucked it again. The end.
Then I began to look for it. As it showed up I snapped it up. The end.
My mom died and I returned to NYC. However, the stress of the changes in my life and the new pressures of my sister's insane proclamation that I had fudged mom's will made me seek calmer shores. I headed to the town of hopewell junction where I had spent some lovely time swimming in a lake and feeling at one with the planet. A friend had a room for rent. I could afford it. It was near a library. I was set.
Then as I realized how many times these innocent decisions turn out to be trial and tribulation for the soul, I saw that my chin hair had company. There were now three or four sprouts. So I plucked them too.
In a couple of years, when I had found my happy home in Hudson, NY, far from the straight jacketed world of Hopeless, I was the owner of several tweezers. I had a couple in my car, one or two in my bags, and of course the best ones in the medicine cabinets. I became an afficionada of tweezers, understanding that price was not always indicative of quality. I became obsessive. My hands were always at my chin and along my jaw line. My moustache was the same as ever. But the hair on my chin, and then my neck, just kept getting thicker and more populous.
By the time I left my fourth home away from NYC and the woman I almost married, tweezing was as much a part of my life as writing, swimming, and eating.
I was forty six when I finally found my way back to the dirty rotten apple that I love so much to call home sweet home. I finally went to a beauty parlor for some threading. Seven dollars and yes, the hair had to grow between trips. So what I wasn't so vain. I could survive a week or two. And I knew, no one really looked. Or rather no one really saw. People don't see. However, I just don't like hair on my face. My eyebrows yes, and the fuzz above my lips. But not these pokes of growth like some strange type of weed.
I found a salon that threaded me. The women were from Nepal. It was on my way to and from places I often went to. There was a conviviality about reclining in the chair and giving one's self up to the care of others.
I left my tweezers alone and missed them naught one bit.
All this time, I owned razors for the times I would shave below my waist or under my arms. Nothing regular, but always an option. Razors were no option for my chin hair though. I had been warned since a child that women did not shave their faces. The hair will grow back thicker, harder, coarser, ugly, manly. Oh, no. My sister said it. When I told her I was getting threadings on a regular basis she was pleased.
"But, why not shave?" I asked. "So much quicker. No money, either."
Her answer was no surprise. She repeated the horror story of shaved facial hair.
Still my facial hair was coming in thicker, blacker, more manly, if that what course meant, from the tweezing and the threading.
I loved the women who worked in the salon I went to. I had a card that they would punch. Soon I would have a free session. We laughed and I was entertaining. It was a vacation in the river of tasks that make up a NYC week. It was around ten dollars a pop with the tip. I went every other week, sometimes every week. I could have gone twice a week with my Indian hair popping up uninvited all over my face.
The economy made me face certain facts. I haven't paid my rent in two months. I've been without paid work for three months. I'm scared shitless about spending money on this or that. My new mouth is demanding new food. NO way in hell am i dropping ten dollars on the lovely ladies, wish them luck without me, and my facial hair woes. The tweezers no longer feel good in my hands. I don't want the obsession or the time or the squinching of the eyes. I want the hair gone fast.
So I reached for my razor as I prepared for the first session of my writer's workshop this October. I lathered up my chin with soap and I scraped my face with my pretty pink double bladed razor with the flowers on it.
The hair comes back stubbly, yes; I pass the razor again. No more moments with my tweezers and no more ten dollar visits to houses of beauty. I own the means to my facial hair production.
I am woman. I shave my face and chin and even some bits of my throat.
Google woman's facial shaving and you'll see that the jury is out on the truth so many hold dear as to how this is not a good answer. Some dermatologist even find shaving to be healthy as microdermabrasion or something.
If you are wondering what to do with your own facial hair, save yourself the time and the money, and start off right with the razor in hand. Shave. I do.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Susan Musgrave, (You Didn't Fit); Her dead dad; My dead dad.

Susan Musgrave dedicated her poem entitled "You Didn't Fit" to her father and its funny and poignant. I dig that combo, f & p rocking me when i think of it. Finding this poem felt especially meaningful on the week of December 11th.

I wrote "You Didn't Fit" down in my own notebook, savoring the lines as I copied them. Now its gone missing. I got to get it again. well, at least its not my phone that is missing again. Three times this month I've gone to buy twenty dollar phones, that is sixty dollars down the cellular drain. And you cannot even call!

What's missing is my own dad, nearly thirty years. Died December 11, 1980. Pre-ATM, pre INternet, Pre cell phone; pre Operation desert storm; pre pakistan india nuclear testing; pre swine flu. Pre me being such a loud mouthed out dyke with a gaggle of neices and nephews that would have made you smile the sun through your face. I remember that smile as i walked into your office at the univeresity with Taraneh.

As many years of you gone as Jade or Chavisa have merely existed. I myself have lived only a third of my life with you now. That number grows the longer I live. Every anniversary is another that you miss my own. The nineteen years we shared was mostly in a version of me that i can only claim nostalgically.

I would love to have an hour or a day or a week or a year with you now. I guess i would trade that last year. It was a sad year. Three of your girls were away. You had a deeper shadow of sad. The dark circles of your eyes had become the black holes that fascinated you in space. Your logic ration was frittering away in the face of girls growing up, retirement looming, and that ever present itch calling you home to a home you hadn't known for several decades, except as self appointed cultural liason between N.E. Pennsylvania and India.

That thanksgiving I came home from my off campus apartment and begged you not to die. I don't blame you now for not keeping your word even for a month. You were after all half asleep with the book fallen to your side and your glasses slipping down your nose. How did you manage to sleep in all the commotion? You had promised me a car. That I won't let you forget. Especially with the gift of your funny feet, old man sam.....what would i call you now?

There's a line in "You Didn't Fit" that the woman recalls how she once wanted to marry her dad and then left. I remember running away from home and twisting my foot in the parking lot behind the ACME. My dad came in his car, looking for me???, and i couldn't get his attention. I sat there for hours and then hobbled home. I haven't stopped falling. I passed you far on that one. High arches, flat feet and champagne legs. Did you ever even hear of Charcot Marie Tooth?

There is such mystery on your family. And my mother's. Only one conversation in September of the same year, when we rode through the Lincoln tunnel into NYC, long before Disney decimated times square, long before I found my heart and soul in tompkins square park one 3AM morning. You had the tears in your eyes that day. What exactly did you say that day? I could never ask. You are dead. Dead like Susan Musgrave's dad. Like so many dads. None of them as smart and funny and cool as you. But why were you so serious sometimes when really it was supposed to be a party? Like Diwali with George Gulbin. You needed the grown up me. I wonder if you ever realized. I knew. I worried. I clung to the smile. I felt the shadows.

Its way strange when your one true parent becomes myth before you ever become you.

I remember him standing near some big leafed tree he had planted in his younger days in his hometown in India. Dad was visiting me in Delhi and we took a trip together, leaving behind the first woman i ever made love to in the women's hostel of Indraprasth College. We ate mooli with lemon and spice from street vendors. My dad and I loved to eat together. Always outdoing ourselves with number of helpings.

I would like to visit Vandana Shiva with him. Vandana is a physicist too who is concerned with more than the theory of matter. Like dad, her concern for the planet is where she puts a lot of energy.

I would like to talk to him about being queer and see if he knew any historical/poetic references from that subcontinent/culture he loved so. Maybe we would start a NGO or a 501C3? Maybe we'd have to argue some points? We never shied from our confrontations.

Musgrave says something about how her dad never joined the crass men talk at the office party and she loved him harder. I remember loving my dad harder when he told my principal that my refusing to abandon the kitten i had found on the way to school was a sign of humanity more than a breach of school discipline and when he said "everyone ouch" every time the car pulled into the car port.

Nineteen years with you and thirty years next year with your absence, filling in your side of conversations with all the occult i can muster. No one knew you like I do. Until there was Bevbev who loved me as fierce and complete as you did, I never thought I could carry your memory without that sharp edge of lonely that cut my breath with ice.

Funny how I left Bevbev even so. Had you not died I could have the chance to leave you and visit occasionally with the various women and schemes that have peopled my years.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rude Kids Don't Rule Me

there is a certain tyranny on me personally when parents don't do their jobs and teach their kids the very basics of manners. its also a bitch on the kids later on I am sure. but for now i will just go forward on how this is personally offensive, frustrating, crazy making.
I was on a bus this kid, cute as they all are in order to keep us all feeding them, maybe four or five years old, with his school bag on his shoulder/back, just takes the candy from this box and drops it on the floor. The mother watches him do this and does nothing. A man who saw the little box fall says "You dropped your pack of gum."
To which, the kid instead of saying thanks, says: "It ain't even gum and its empty."
I say: "That man was trying to help you. You usually say thanks in that case."
The mother finally acts. Her protective hackles up, she spins around and says: "I can take care of this situation, thank you."
"I'm just tired of all the rudeness that is coming from kids who are never told what to do." I say.
"Oh and you would know. You are being very helpful." She says. They get off the bus.
I don't know if i was helpful. I don't care about being helpful. I am so sick of parents acting like everyone in the whole world has to bend over backwards because they decided to procreate and find themselves running around doing the job of four people from day break to sleepy time.
These very people, who have kids, and start up on the biggest shopping sprees of their lives with everything from music lessons to lunchables have allowed for the biggest bill of goods the corporations have ever had the pleasure to devise. They are thoughtlessly sucked into becoming the consumers training program for the next several generations as well. The regular ordinary every day NYC parent works in one place; sends kid(s) to school(s) in other place(s) SOMETIMES OTHER BOROUGHS; then coordinates the rest of the time buying and spending and consuming voraciously.
The alarming effect of this is a sinister withdrawal from any sort of civic involvement. Since it is for the care of the children this withdrawal is lauded as heroic. Parents are thought to be selfless.
There involvement may extend to some committees of schools. (Here we are talking about economically advantaged parents.) Yet no where does the involvement extend further to the socio economical system that has grown so that kids (who once were relatively independent) are now the 24 hour tasks of overworked and exhausted parents who glibly put their young ones in to compete for fewer and fewer "choice" schools, etc.
When such a large portion of a supposed democracy is for all purposed absent in the democratic process the rest of us are also affected.
So, yes, teach your children basic manners or I will comment to them and you. They have to know that they are part of something larger. And so are you, mommies and daddies. Stop your smugness.
Most species on the planet can still self reproduce. Its not a big deal. Its not a big deal for them to know how to say excuse me, please, thank you and have an idea of other people's needs. What i see is less and less of the child's ability to empathize with others. They are the supernovas of their worlds.
This is all relatively a new focus of mine so I'm