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!

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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.

Not Today Satan

Today is the day I find out if my house is slowly sinking into the abyss. I have an appointment with someone who is going to crawl under my house to inspect my foundation and supporting beams. A few years ago someone noticed an indention near the guest tub where the floor had caved in. A few years before that, the tell-tale cracks above a few entrance-ways began to form. Since all of my home repair knowledge came from my father, I believed him when he told me, “It’s just the foundation settling. It happens. I just need to put a jack under the house and jack it up.” To this day, that hasn’t happened. And due to my recent DIY and organization streak, the moment of reckoning is upon me.

I bought my house a year after my graduation from college to avoid “throwing money away on rent.” Because I was young and cared more about socializing, buying cute clothes and learning the newest makeup techniques… that’s where the majority of my time, effort and disposable income were spent. To be honest, I had no business becoming a homeowner. Then again, I’m grateful that I purchased my little pillbox house when I did because it’s about a 15-minute drive to just about anything I need. I’m literally in the middle of everything. Nowadays, people pay a small fortune for a luxury like that.

Some people go through life with a checklist. Car, College, Marriage, Dog, House, Kid(s)… My mother told me that I’d meet my husband in college. That never happened. After I graduated, I looked back, thinking I must have done something wrong. I hadn’t.

My parents had a few very rigid ideas about how I was to go about the business of my life. When I was younger, they never allowed me to have any pets except for the occasional hermit crab, fish or gerbil. I was allergic to cats, but dogs were out of the question. Although I was doing musical theater since age 7, art, writing poetry and music… my parents insisted that I get a degree in “business” so that I would have “marketable skills.” They didn’t want me to be a “starving artist” living under a bridge in a cardboard box, which was how they saw anyone who sought a career in art of any kind.

I’m on my second dog now. The first was a gorgeous Pekingese puppy I picked up at a pet store with an old boyfriend. I told him, “When we tell my parents, you gave me this puppy as a gift, right?” My parents eventually warmed up to the little fur ball. They even shed a few tears when he passed away after 16 years of being their precious GrandDog. Now I have a big fuzzy Australian Shepherd rescue. I think rescue dogs appreciate you more because they’ve been through stuff. Adopting that little fur face was the best thing I’d done in a long time. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to be loved unconditionally. This little guy taught me how to love and be loved all over again.

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And as far as that “starving artist” stuff goes… I’ve been doing my best to make Mom & Dad eat those words. I still have my “responsible steady day job” that pays the bills, but I’ve been enjoying growing my side hustle. I signed up for this monthly box designed for female entrepreneurs and found out today that the curator lives in the Charlotte/Rock Hill area… only a stone’s throw away! I’ve been messaging with her since I’d been stumbling upon motivational content of my own. She just started her box business in December and it’s already one of the most sought-after on Cratejoy.

Nowadays people are finding (and fueling) their passions in so many unconventional ways. It’s possible to make a living doing things that the generations before us would scoff at. You just have to get out there and find out what really sets your heart ablaze. And be you, no matter what anyone else tells you, even Mom & Dad.

And Love Yourself.

Love Yourself

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.

The Phantom Menace

The guy I met my Junior year when I transferred to Broughton HS from Cardinal Gibbons was my first boyfriend there. He had no idea how to be a boyfriend at all. I should have remembered this fact when he got back in touch with me a few years ago, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

We met in Mr. McBroom’s Show Choir. I had transferred schools because of the immaculate reputation of the revered “Carolina Spirit National Champion Show Choir”. It was a big move from private to public school and I had no idea what I was in for. All I knew was that because Katherine Kennedy’s parents were basically funding the whole operation, she got the last spot and I remained in the spillover “Capital Touch” show choir. “Capital Touch” was a much larger choir filled with people who had more talent than money. I think this was around the time when I started figuring out how the world works.

Dennis was an attractive guy with a moderate build and eyes way too big for his head. He had the swagger of a used-car salesman, which was pretty impressive… or perhaps scary for someone who was only a senior in high school. I thought he was important because he had a “real job” driving a school bus. Little did I know that he came from a less-than-modest home where he lived with his Dad and sometimes sister. His Dad looked like Johnny Fever on the TV show WKRP Cincinnati. At least I remember hearing him speak of his Dad and Sister, but never a Mom.

We were partnered up on “Rockin’ Pneumonia and Boogie Woogie Flu.” Neither one of us could dance well, but we muddled through. Honestly, I think he just enjoyed throwing me around. Then one day, he asked me out on a date.

He took me to the movie, About Last Night. The entire film features a naked Rob Lowe and Demi Moore performing various and sundry sex acts… and that’s pretty much all I remember… except the fact that we were both so embarrassed that we must have butt-scrunched nearly all the way to the floor we were so low in our seats. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Afterwards we went to a park and talked about how awkward the experience had been. We were both virgins, so the entire experience was like watching our first porno together with a room full of weird strangers. To this day, we still laugh about it. I mean, I’m sure we would IF we were on speaking terms.

A few years ago, out of the clear blue and completely unprovoked, he sent me a Facebook message asking me what I was doing that Friday. We made plans for dinner that magically morphed into a 4-month (or so) relationship. He lived in Charleston. The distance wasn’t logical but the familiarity was. Weirdly, despite my best efforts, I let him into my life again.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention the terrible boyfriend part…

Dennis, despite his best efforts, inherited the cheating gene. On one occasion he took me to Broughton Homecoming, then, when I wanted to drop by and see my private school friends at a slumber party, he dropped me by… BUT THEN RETURNED TO THE SLUMBER PARTY WITHOUT ME. (Yes, you read that right. Yes, it was an all-girl slumber party. Of course it was.) Imagine how shocked I was to hear that the boyfriend I had just shown off to my friends had come right back to FLIRT WITH THEM! Yes, that speaks well of my life choices. Go ahead and award me the prize for idiot of the year.

A few weeks later, at another football game, my friend Bonnie brought her friend Kimber to meet everyone. Dennis had this great group of friends who called themselves “The Fellas.” To this day, I still follow most of them on Facebook. They’re all pretty awesome guys. I went to college with Lee, who kept me out of my fair share of trouble. Seriously, I should have dated any one of these treasures. Why I chose Dennis, I will never understand. But back to the football game, Dennis disappeared with Kimber for pretty much the duration, then came back and broke up with me. I was certain that he lost his virginity to her while he was gone (which he denies), but I’ll never truly know because he’s quite adept at lying.

Flash forward to present day. After 4 months of paying more attention to me than I expected, surprising me with unexpected visits and acting almost like a real human being, Dennis did The Fadeaway because he didn’t have the balls to tell me he was actually seeing a handful of other girls as well. July of last year, he married one of them. Now they’re expecting a baby. The irony here is that I don’t think he ever really wanted kids. He’s probably afraid they’ll end up like him.

Notes From the Universe

Eight years ago I went through something that changed me. I fell in love with someone completely wrong for me and kept having to convince myself that I was doing the right thing for myself. All evidence to the contrary, the Universe was screaming WRONG WRONG WRONG! But I’m stubborn and I persevered, ignoring all the signs. It ended badly. of course, but it was also the first time that someone had ever looked me in the eye and told me that I was “not allowed to exist in his world anymore.”

I’ve had good, communicative, healthy breakups and I’ve had a few awful ones, but this… This life event made me question everything. I’d never had anyone I trusted and loved so much just throw me away as if nothing ever happened. I was deeply devastated and most of all, I stopped believing in love. In fact the jury is still out on that one. Before this point in my life I gave freely of myself and I loved with everything I was. Now I became guarded, bitter and resentful. My world was turned upside-down and most of my choices were motivated by fear. I would never be the same.

One day when I was browsing the web, I stumbled upon some motivational sites, a few had emails that you could subscribe to… so I did. I knew I needed a great deal of positive motivation and I wanted desperately to put the traumatic event behind me so I could move forward with my life. You never realize how difficult it is to get out of a mindset and truly let go of something until you’ve experienced something like this. I needed all the help I could get. My first gurus were Ariel & Shya Kane. I ordered their audio book “Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work: The 3 Simple Ideas That Will Instantaneously Transform Your Life” When I was finished, I went on to find Marc and Angel Chernoff. I immediately signed up for everything I could on their website and years later, went on to purchase their book on Kindle and attend their workshop when they came to NC.

I’ve been receiving almost daily emails from Marc and Angel and Ariel & Shya ever since. A lot of the basic principles are common sense, but we tend to forget them when we need them the most. Marc and Angel are big advocates of meditation, but meditating is always a big fail to me since my mind is always whirring with thoughts like 20 hyperactive hamsters in a wheel. It’s been a journey and it still is. But it’s only recently that I started REALLY thinking about the bigger picture and what sort of energy I’m sending out into the Universe.

Because struggling through another viewing of “The Secret” seemed pointless, I looked elsewhere. And there it was. Amid all the other health, wellness, DIY and other assorted junk mail reading in my Inbox was a link to a website called Notes from the Universe. Of course I clicked it.

“I’m a born lever-puller”
– Ringo, Yellow Submarine

So basically the idea is that you get daily emails of encouragement sent to your Inbox. You can even customize these notes to encourage you toward a few long-term goals. I’m always willing to let more positive motivation into my life, so I did it, and I’m glad I did. Even if your mailbox is full of clutter, these little notes are brief and stand out. I try to make them the first thing I read every day.

And the Audible service? I feel like I get a new benefit from it every day. Today I’m listening to Anna Kendrick’s book of biographical essays Scrappy Little Nobody. She narrates each story as if she’s talking to you, so for a few days I have Anna Kendrick as my co-pilot. I’m pretty sure the other drivers are wondering what I’m chuckling about.

I’m gonna let ’em wonder.