The Gender-Bender, the Soup, and the Blur of a Weekend

As if my life weren’t crazy enough, this story has been unfolding since Wednesday.

I was at work when my phone rang. Since the area code was local, I answered. (when you have a business that’s listed on the internet, telemarketers have a tendency to swarm like vultures, so I just let most calls from out-of-state area codes go to voice mail.) I’m currently running a prom special, so I answered. It was a guy.

The conversation started out a little slow. He asked if I did makeup in a salon. I told him I was a freelancer and did mostly television makeup. He asked if I did anything more glamorous. I told him about the prom special and asked if it was for his wife or daughter. He told me he would be the client. *awkward pause* “Is it Pride already?” *nervous laughter* I haven’t done drag makeup in a long time.

“I’m not gay. It’s for a party,” he said. We talked a little while longer, agreed on a time and he texted me his address. I still had no idea what this was for. I just hoped this wasn’t his brand of kink that he was looking to indulge. (The job was on a Friday. I’m usually exhausted by the end of the week and have little patience for weirdness, perverts, or anything more than the job I’m hired to do.)

Because I’m female and always take the requisite safety precautions, I looked up the address, found his last name and within seconds had gone through his Facebook profile. He was attractive, a programmer AND a musician… SERIOUSLY? Regardless, I texted the address to 2 of my close girlfriends and the guy I would be working with on a shot for MSNBC first thing in the morning. People knew exactly where I was and what I’d be doing. I felt safe.

When I arrived, I was greeted by 2 of the tiniest chihuahuas I’ve ever seen. He was running around nervously, brushing his teeth, going from room to room. I think he’d started rethinking the whole gender transformation thing, but it was too late. I was there unpacking my large, unwieldy girl makeup kit. He was committed.

I got to work at his kitchen table in the worst light imaginable. I knew he was straight because he still had Christmas cocktail napkins out. A gay man would have tossed those in January. And there was also no better lighting in his house. The lighting in the guest bathroom was even worse. But still, we persisted. I made him into his twin sister Julie. His friends got a kick out of that. He said they called him Julie all night. (I’m not sure if I’m charmed or freaked out a little by this, but I’ll continue my story.)

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His outfit was all the sequins, leopard print and gold lamé I could handle… and in heels he looked 7 feet tall. I really should have gotten a full-length photo, but hindsight is 20/20. He was the straightest, manliest drag queen I’d ever seen. I was thinking at this point that he’d lost a bet.

As it turned out, he had 2 close girlfriends who watched RuPaul’s drag race and they’d dared him to do it. Being someone who doesn’t back down from a challenge, he embraced it head on… and hired me. Strange how these things work out.

We had a drink together, talked a while, then he asked what I was doing the next night. I paused for a second, thought about how much fun I was having talking to him and how effortless the conversation was… then accepted.

So basically, this was my weekend.
(He knows more about writing code and music theory than I do which makes me want to both punch him in the face and hang on to him at the same time. I think I’ll live.)

this weekend

And Sunday I went with my friend Erin to see Bowling for Soup. I’ve always loved them because as you know… I’m a sucker for a clever lyric and a band who has a sense of humor about themselves.

The opening bands were like sandpaper on my eardrums, but BFS made my evening. Erin and I were (of course) right up front and I took a ridiculous amount of Facebook live footage. (to that point, I realized hardly anyone is up that late on a Sunday and I probably shouldn’t be either.)

There was a child on his Dad’s shoulders the entire concert 3rd row center. They endured both opening bands to hold that spot and had earphones to protect his ears. It was DARLING! And Jaret took notice. Here are a few photos of the child and Jaret giving him picks from all guitarists, a drum stick and a set list autographed by all members.

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Another Epic weekend…. Check!

Limitless (and the Pitfalls of Private School)

It’s natural to have doubts. We don’t start out that way. In fact, we start out trusting everyone. We talk to strangers, reach for the hot burner, don’t look both ways before crossing the street, attempt to stick our fingers in the light socket… (okay well perhaps not all of us, but we get the warnings regardless) We are born fearless and without prejudice. We know no strangers. We have no issues of weight or body image. We don’t doubt ourselves. Why should we? The world is a great big mystery to be solved and it’s all out there for us! And then… we’re thrust out into the real world.

I remember my first bitter taste of reality. My parents sent me off to Junior Kindergarten at a private school that required all students to wear uniforms. We couldn’t even wear our winter coats on the playground at recess because our school emblems needed to be visible at all times. That first day Mom also sent me off with a few toy cars in my pocket. As soon as I pulled them out at recess, they were quickly stolen by a girl named Mary Alice Askew. I asked for them back, she refused. I asked again to no avail. Recess ended and we were ushered back inside.

Class started, but I was still distraught over the injustice that had just occurred. I whispered to Mary Alice while the teacher’s back was turned, “Give me back my cars!” She snickered. Overhearing this, the teacher called me to the front of the class and asked what was going on. “Mary Alice stole my cars!” I said. The teacher then promptly collected the cars from Mary Alice, put them in her desk drawer and gave me a spanking in front of the entire class! I returned to my seat, car-less and mortified. This was the exact moment I learned that life was not fair.

I spent 10 years at that odd little school with its strange rules and stringent dress code. My Mother was under the impression that if I attended a private school, I would meet people of a higher social standing than those in public schools. What she didn’t realize was that many of the students at this school were sent there because they were kicked out of everywhere else. She also didn’t realize how badly I was being treated by my peers. I was never taught to stick up for myself, so I was bullied and talked down to probably more often than I even noticed.

Mom used to arrange after-school play-dates with girls in my grade who she assumed I was friends with. I wasn’t, and I was usually surprised when they told me they were supposed to come home with me. They were nice to me one-on-one, but when we got back to school nothing changed. Mom kept arranging these hangouts and I kept wanting real friends. I may have been young, but at least I knew the difference.

My teen years were painfully awkward. I was too ugly, too skinny, I’d never kissed a boy and I didn’t know what all the sex slang terms meant. If I wanted a guy to pay attention to me, I had to grab the new transfer student before he started hanging out with the cool kids and making fun of me as well. I wasn’t cool by any stretch of the imagination, so I just did my best to get through.

I found an escape through the world of musical theater and collected a handful of quirky theater nerd friends along the way. There was a great theater camp during the summer and I had started getting a few lead roles here and there. (All the while, my parents were hoping I’d switch gears and tell them I secretly wanted to become a Doctor or Rocket Scientist) One year, right before school started, I landed the role of Baby Louise in Gypsy, which required me to dye my hair a deep, dark brown color. The bullies at school didn’t miss a beat on that one. The prank calls about my hair looking like “excrement” started a few weeks before the show opened. Luckily that was about the extent of it.

But all of that never broke me. Sure, I had plenty of teenage “sequester yourself in your room-listen to loud music and cry” moments, but doesn’t everyone? And I finally found my voice. It took me a long time to learn how I needed to stick up for myself, but I finally have. My friend JD used to say that I had a habit of going from zero to bitch in 60 seconds. This was because I wouldn’t say anything until I was past my breaking point. I put up with all sorts of things that I should have nixed from the start. This comes from a history of self-doubt. When you experience so much unpleasantness, you start to question yourself and wonder if you’ve done something to deserve it. Then in later life, it takes a while to realize that it was never you at all. It takes a skilled eye to see through people.

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So I’ll leave you with this…

be-kind

Let’s Do This!

This is what I say to myself every day when I leave my house. I also say a few sweet parting missives to my dog upon my exit as he stares at me longingly from the front gate. These include, but are not limited to, “Take care of the house.” “Go inside. It’s raining.” “Please don’t bring another toy outside.” “I’ll snuggle with you later.” “You’re a pretty boy!” “I love you!” and “I’ll be home soon, I promise.” But all of this is beside the point.

I also seem to have summoned up a sort of theme music. My phone magically starts playing the Pandora app moments after I walk in. This is a relatively new development and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Since I’m also unsure of exactly what is causing it, I just yell at Siri to make it stop and it does… again magically.

For some reason I began this year with renewed energy. I’m not sure if it was the breakup or some sort of unspoken resolution I sent out into the Universe, but I feel as though with the dawning of 2017, I unloaded the behemoth of all things unwanted and began to see the world through newly-opened eyes. Each day is a gift. I have 2 best friends who are complete opposites. They are two of the most amazing women I have ever met and they continue to inspire and bring out the best in me on a daily basis. They are my co-conspirators, my biggest cheerleaders, and I never question that they always have my back.

Right alongside the things I love and am grateful for are the things I’ve started to see completely differently and want to change. For a long time I’ve been reluctant to do weddings. I just flat out don’t like them. People seem to think that on their wedding day, a makeup artist can simply wave a magic makeup brush and transform them into a completely different person than they were before. That’s always struck me as odd. Mark my words. Nothing will make you question your talent or faith in humanity as much as doing wedding makeup.

Granted, I’ve been lucky to have had some amazing brides, and those experiences alone have been more than enough to outweigh the occasional Bridezilla. However, yesterday I decided to take bridal service rates off my website completely… then exhaled deeply. Three hours later (I kid you not), a bride sent me an email wanting to hire me for a HUGE wedding in about 8 weeks. I sent her a polite response and referred her to a friend who just set out on her own and is building her makeup artist business. Pay it forward whenever possible. Absolutely 100%. This business is completely cutthroat and it’s difficult to know who your friends are. But it all comes back. That’s the one thing you can count on.

I’m actually ahead of the game this week. My taxes are done (these are regrettably a last-minute thing, but I’m working on pushing them earlier and earlier each year. #smallwins). I’ve also secured a loan from the bank that will take care of all of the foundation work (GOOD NEWS! My house will not fall into the abyss on my watch!) and the renovation of both bathrooms. This was all done by Wednesday. I feel as if I deserve an award for adulting super-hard!

Today, a newsletter from a professional organizer was sitting in my Inbox. It contains a plethora of fantastic advice. (Yes, I included the link for you… because I’m good like that.)

AND as if the Universe didn’t have my back enough today, I just got the call notifying me that tomorrow morning I’ll be making David McIntosh camera-ready for Fox.

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Both of these men are named David McIntosh. Which one do you think I’m meeting?
If you guessed the pasty, middle-aged guy… you’d be correct. *sigh*
Always the politicians, never the hot guys.

One day…
I’m waiting Universe…

 

They Walk Among Us

Have you ever had a friend you thought was so terrific you often wondered why they were still single? Or perhaps YOU are that friend. Evidently, I am that friend. I both relish and fear this thought for a few good reasons:
Sure, it’s very flattering to be thought of as such a hot commodity. HOWEVER, I always fear that things will not go well and I will forever be known as “that bitch who broke my friend.”

Flash forward to last night…

Recently, a friend has taken an interest in making sure that neither Lee Ann nor myself don’t remain single on her watch. Although, both attempts failed and each rendered its share of awkwardness, mine may have won the prize.

It started out innocently enough. A post-work drink at a bar near my house. The location was strategic in case I needed to make a quick getaway, but I didn’t think it would be necessary. What I didn’t know was that he was 3 beers in when I arrived. It’s possible that everyone on the premises knew but me.

He made a point to let me know that he liked my looks… A LOT and then went on to tell me how much he worked out, how great he was at sex (because evidently I needed to know right away?), how much he liked my swimsuit photos on Facebook, how much he loves golf and has a trip to Myrtle Beach planned for which he’s set a countdown timer on his phone (which he needed to show me of course), how he used to work for Microsoft (and after that could get his pick of jobs like he was some sort of wunderkind), and how he now works for Lenovo. Then he told me about how he travels all the time since he’s divorced and his kid is 18. He also made a point of giving me the exact figure he paid his wife in the divorce and probably expected me to flinch more, but I was too busy processing all of the nonstop braggadocio.

I almost did a spit take when he asked, “and can I talk about myself for a minute?” It made me wonder what it was we were doing before. Was I talking about myself? Nope. I told one story about one person we knew in common. Other than that, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. He told me his work was sending him to Germany on Saturday. Then he asked me if I was seeing anyone else. Before I could even answer him he told me he was seeing a few different women. A FEW? Then he expressed a huge amount of disdain quite loudly that they all wanted him to take care of them. That was what he thought all the girls he dated had in common. Not that they were all pretty… or all blondes… or all tall… NO. He thought they all wanted him to look after them. This is probably news to those women.

After this loud declaration (which was probably the middle of beer 7ish?), he took my hand and told me he was taking me to Germany with him. He went on to say that I was buying my own plane ticket, but that we’d have steak every night and even though we’d be staying in the same hotel room I didn’t have to do anything with him. Good Lord, he didn’t even bother to ask if I was vegan! (which I’m not, but still… I don’t think it would matter much) And then he told me that he would need to work during the day, but I could go shopping. Gee… Like I need more stuff in my life. And to be held captive by this loon in a foreign country eating steak and wandering around by myself while he worked? Sounds like the premise for a horror movie.

When he excused himself and went to the bathroom, the two women seated beside me at the bar, the bartender, and the promotions guy from a Brewery in Fuquay who had watched him pre-game while he waited for me to arrive decided that they had heard enough. ALL OF THEM told me to run just as fast as I could to get away from this loser. They couldn’t believe the crap that was coming out of his mouth. They were appalled that he put a price tag on his marriage and told me he would probably put one on me as well. His repeated insistence even after my repeated refusal about the Germany trip, which was only 3 days away they found odd and pushy. They figured that he saw women as possessions, just as he saw everything else. He was big and important and owned everything. He saw no reason he couldn’t own me as well.

As soon as he returned, I glanced at my watch and remarked about how late it had suddenly become. I started putting on my jacket, an act which he tried to dissuade. I got up and started for the door. The 2 ladies beside me nodded and told me not to worry about the tab, they had my back. To be honest, I was really happy to see how women I didn’t even know would look out for me.

He was hammered. I let him walk me to my car, then watched him stumble away. I figured he probably walked back to the bar (which was the only reason I didn’t pop my head back in to thank the women and pay my tab myself). My friend informed me later that he called an Uber. She also informed me that he wouldn’t have been able to start his car because he had an ignition interlock device installed in his car. This would have been useful information to have known going in. Ugh, the Achilles Heel of all that bravado. Ridiculous.

Rock Star Sparkle

This past week or so has been a crazy happy blur. I had a magnificent time in Charlotte and got to meet K. Flay! If you haven’t heard her music or seen her live, she’s touring now (so this is your chance) and she’s the absolute sweetest. She’s a hugger! The first thing she did when I approached was hug me! And when I told her that I’d driven over 3 hours to see her, she grabbed me and hugged me again! She may have even hugged me more than twice. I was so drunk with post-concert giddiness I hardly noticed. It was like hanging out with one of my best girlfriends. (If said girlfriend was a badass rapper/vocalist who made music you love.) She signed 2 cds and posed for so many photos with Allison and I (the lighting was SO BAD it was almost a must.) I wouldn’t have traded the experience for the world. In fact, I’m still all smiles just thinking about it.

It was nice staying with Allison for a day or 2. We look after each other. She cooked for me and made sure I had all the comforts of home. And I ended up coaching her on some online aspects of her business. I had brought her a book full of inspiration that I thought she’d enjoy, but I never saw myself fitting into a coaching role. I think the more we grow, the more we don’t think we have it “together.” We realize how little we actually know in the grand scheme of things. But growth isn’t supposed to be comfortable. That’s why so many people don’t do it. I’ve never been one of those people.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”
– Anaïs Nin

After a few days of adjusting and jumping back into work, I got to hang out with a few of my favorite people this weekend. Unfortunately, we were reminded that sometimes when things come too easy, there’s a catch. Lee Ann got ROCKSTAR parking in front of the venue, but when we returned to her car, she’d been hit by a party bus full of drunken millennials. I use the term “Party Bus” loosely. It was actually a retro school bus spray-painted black. I won’t go into details, I’ll just say that I hate that this happened to one of the most amazing people I know. In other news, the food and the company were nothing short of amazing. And I’d like to wish a Happy Birthday to our friend JD, who is always there for us. (#theoriginalJD)

Saturday morning I had one of the most interesting makeup jobs I’ve had in a while. A friend of mine who I’d met when I dated his college roommate (funny story… I totally got Delta Chi and Theta Chi confused. WHO DOES THAT? Luckily, he set me straight before I went on embarrassing myself for too long) hired me to do makeup for the Intro to his local cable access show. The makeup was to be a closeup shot of lips as they spoke the opening catch phrase. What I didn’t know was that he would arrive equipped with craft services of an edible arrangement, champagne, brie, crackers and a vegetable tray for the talent to enjoy after it was photographed. He was taking care of a few jobs he needed to photograph or film that day and we all got to reap the benefits.

As it turns out, Randal is a dental hygienist. It just so happens that the practice he works for has developed a kit for in-office tooth-whitening with a take home component and a nifty reminder app that whitens at least 3 shades without sensitivity in 30 minutes. Everyone on site got to try this out for themselves and it was GLORIOUS! It’s not every day that I show up on set, get spoiled with fancy treats AND get to leave with a shiny new smile!

Evidently, this tooth-whitening system will soon be featured on the TV show Shark Tank, so I’m not allowed to give too many details, but I may end up in some of the preliminary promotional materials.

And if you get a chance, listen to my new friend K. Flay. You’ll be glad you did.

Just Keep Swimming

I understand now the importance of a good nap. It’s only Thursday and I’ve crammed so many appointments into this week that I’m about to fall over. I’m still having the dizzy spells too, which makes each day seem like a slow crawl through quicksand at times.

At the end of last year I subscribed to the Audible service so that I could get more reading done. Although I feel like tend to absorb more of a book when I am able to see the words in front of me, this is such a great service for getting in some much-needed reading while doing everything else. My first book was recommended to me by a friend who told me I was the “poster child for karma & all the good feelings”. She said that after reading it she felt like she was wearing an invisible cape when she left the house. I wanted to feel like that, so it was the first book I downloaded. It’s called The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon.

With everything going on, I hadn’t even thought of digging into this book until a few days ago on a long commute. This morning I set my plan in motion. I’m loving this new plan. The most important thing I’ve learned thus far is E + P = O (Experience + Perception = Outcome) It also occurred to me that I hadn’t been driving my own bus for a while. I wasn’t doing what I wanted. I’d lost sight of my goals. I lacked direction and my enthusiasm was nonexistent. For months I had resigned myself to doing what my boyfriend wanted. It was difficult to make him happy because he seemed to need constant attention and reassurance. I was drained. By the time I ended it, I was empty.

The timing of this book couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s a jump-start to get me back on track. The more I keep my eyes open, the more little things happen to reinforce the message. A co-worker took a trip with his wife over the holidays. He recounted with glee all the things they did. “We wanted to do everything we wanted while we still can.” I get it. Each year that passes, each doctor visit, each new medical dilemma… I am reminded of my own mortality. There are so many things I want from this life. I just need to manifest them.

As for the rest… I’ll just keep swimming.

White Lies & Red Flags

Last night I had dinner with an old friend. We hadn’t seen each other since the early 90’s, so I was surprised at everything he recalled. We talked for over 2 hours. I told him what was going on with me. He told me what was going on with him. He owns a company now and will soon be travelling to China for work. I feel as if I should have been doing more with my life these past few years.

It always brings up a red flag or several when a guy I’ve known for a long time who married someone else pops up out of the clear blue and suddenly needs to see me. Luckily, this guy is a real sweetheart and simply missed his friend. He apologized for how he’d handled things in the past (which I wasn’t even aware needed an apology) and said something that really resonated with me. He told me that I was special. Do I already know this? Sure, to an extent, but it’s so easy to forget. And it speaks volumes when someone you haven’t seen in 20+ years remembers you with such fondness. It’s nice to know when you have that effect on someone.

But speaking of red flags… I’m reminded of a time when a guy I’d been in Youth Council with in high school sought me out to tell me he was getting divorced. I was in Esthetician School and he booked a facial service just so he could get a moment alone with me. (At the time, I was working full-time AND going to school full-time, so I had zero free time. Even my friends booked services so that they could have some time with me. To this day, they may not know how much that was appreciated.)

Months later, after I’d graduated and had a few months to exhale, I started seeing someone who lived in another state. This went really well until it didn’t. The last week of that relationship, I’d caught a terrible cold and the person who had sought me out previously, popped up and told me he was going to cook me dinner. It was very sweet and afterwords, despite the cold, boyfriend and all, he leaned in to kiss me. I told him I really needed to get things settled with the previous relationship before anything were to happen. So I did.

After the relationship ended and I let the guy know that I was free & clear a few days passed, then I received a phone call. He basically told me that he was in love with his Dental Hygienist, who had a boyfriend, so he was basically just spending time with me until she was free. I’m not sure why he thought I’d be okay with that. I wasn’t. I never saw him again.

It’s no wonder I see so many red flags so often.