Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nobody Ever Told Me

The past year was one of the most exciting in my life, as I finished writing my first book and preparing it for publication. The day that I received a check for what I'd done was one of the best highs I'd ever felt, while working with a copyeditor was the equivalent of several years worth of formal training. And then--thud.
I was never a woman who suffered, or could even understand, post-partum depression. How anyone could feel dismal about having an uncomfortable lump in their body transformed into a miniscule human being was incomprehensible to me, until now.
Now that Tone Deaf in Bangkok is completed, and belongs to my publisher rather than to me, I feel desperately bereft and in a state of mild panic. (That this state of mind has descended upon me during the season of deepest darkness and formalized festivities is the maraschino cherry that tops the hot fudge sundae.)
When I finally hold the printed book in my hands, my feelings may change, but who knows? At that point it will have become the creation of a designer, a photographer and a copyeditor--no longer those pieces of paper that were mine all mine. It's like giving birth and having your child grow up and away from you in a matter of months.
And then of course there's the challenge that comes with finishing a first book--can I do it again? Now I understand those women who had stair-step children--they did it because they could--and now it's time to see if I can. Nothing will make me happier than the process of falling in love with an idea, thinking it over, and turning out many, many sheets of white paper covered in print. The rest, as Raymond Carver said, is gravy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

follic symbols

Okay, I promise not to be the sort of dreary old broad who bemoans the aging process. My philosophy truly will be if it's that bad, shut up and make enough money to get plastic surgery. However, today for the first time in my life, I looked in the mirror and wished I were a man.
From a physical point of view, I've always felt sorry for men, and the first time that I read about phallus envy, I was honestly confused. Why anybody would want to have such an obviously vulnerable and inconvenient appendage was well beyond my thrteen-year-old comprehension. When I grew older and my level of sexual knowledge became higher, it was still blazingly obvious that when it came to reproductive equipment, women had every advantage, except of course for cramps.
Men also have to wear ugly colors, can't accentuate their better features with make-up, and are discouraged from bursting into tears when they're enraged. They lack the shopping gene, and are often in situations where they have to watch football games. Although I enjoy them, I never wanted to be one of them, until today.
This morning, when I looked in the mirror and saw tiny lines that are beginning to emerge above my upper lip, and the distinct signs of a sagging chin, I realized that these were things that would be impossible to hide--unless I were a man. If I were male and saw these unmistakable signs of age, I would be able to shrug, put my shaver in a dark corner of my closet, and begin to grow a lovely crop of facial hair that would completely obscure my problem areas.
So there we are--men grow beards and moustaches, women either sag or get chin tucks. And for the first time in my life, faced with this indisputable truth, I'm suffering genuine envy of the other gender.