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September 30, 2011

Worth it

Although my back hurts and I sometimes get bored or it's hot or I have some other excuse, I still get up in the mornings and go for a daily walk. Getting in shape the "sensible" way is kind of a slog after a few weeks, so you can imagine that after a year (plus some) there are days when I feel less than inspired to burn another 200 calories on the pavement.

But this is Los Angeles and it's fall TV season and the whole city has become one big film set. So on my morning walks now I pass at least three or four outdoor sets every day. Sometimes I see the actors but usually I see the grips and PAs and teamsters and craft services folks milling around.

This morning, however, I walked so close to Taye Diggs that I could have literally leaned a bit to the left and covered him with my lovin' body. He is more physically perfect than any one person should be allowed to be all at one time. I am sure I impressed him in my track pants and grubby Run DMC T-shirt and my awesome white girl VISOR. (But how else to keep the freckles at bay?)

On the way back I practically sprinted past what will now be forever known to me as Taye Diggs Place and for that Herculean exercise effort I will later be sprawled on a heating pad wondering how I got to be so old and easily sprung. It was worth it. I bet I looked awesome running with my visor.

Uh, I'm just keeping it warm until you get back.

Posted by laurie at 10:39 AM

September 28, 2011

Wednesday: Winner and cat pictures

Good morning, Wednesday!

The winner of yesterday's super-cute baby gift give-away is ... penis enlargement! OH JUST KIDDING. Though the spam is more aggressive that usual, don't you agree? The REAL WINNER is commenter Marie B. who has already been alerted by email. Congratulations! Plus, your prize is being delivered by someone other than me so it should arrive much sooner.

Thanks so much to the folks at Citrus Lane for offering up this sweet prize, and thanks to Kristy and Robin at Clever Girls Collective for getting me hooked up with it. Most of all thanks to all of you who participated! The comments were hilarious.

I set aside a whole pile of good stuff for great giveaways in October, including a ton of knitting books and scary books and yarn donated from readers and some yarn from my stash because I WILL be downsizing. (October -- I am looking at you. I see you. I will not beclutter you.)

And for the CAT PICTURE portion of the program... I am calling this series, "Frankie mourns the loss of toast."




Posted by laurie at 11:33 AM

September 27, 2011

Tuesday Give Away: FREE Deluxe Citrus Lane prize box of baby goodies

Oh, I love giving stuff away. I recently got a whole pile of stuff ranging from books to yarn to baby goodies to give away and today we're starting with this awesome gift box from CitrusLane.com:


In this box:

* SwaddleDesigns Marquisette Swaddle Blanket
* Pearhead Babyprints Tin
* Green Sprouts Organic Cotton Mitts
* Canopy Cards Baby Love Letter
* Cloud B Sleep Sheep Rattle
* Zoe Organics Mommy-to-be Bath Tea
* $50 Minted Gift Card

I'm always curious with these things if the box actually looks anything like the prize in the picture, so I got one in the mail and it totally rocks:


Granted, I have no idea what a lot of this stuff is for (Marquisette Swaddle Blanket? Is that different than cheap Target blanket avec cat hair?) but this box would make an AMAZING baby shower gift. I don't know about you, but I struggle at baby showers. Usually I don't want to go to them to begin with because people sit around talking about gross things like amniotic waters and placentas and there is a CAKE present. I understand that birth is part of the circle of life and you're happy you got knocked up and a baby is cute and so on. But I still have PTSD from the baby shower of 2003 where I was made to sit around a conference table at the bank while my old boss Mark talked about his wife's mucus plug, then four minutes late everyone cut the cake. I had to leave the room on an important conference call to anyone other than you people. Then I barfed a little bit in the trashcan.

Babies come out and it's messy and I am down with that, but not while cake is in the room, people. Let's have some boundaries.

So I have a tough time with the pre-baby parties and gifts. This may explain why I have often been the only person giving the new mom a bottle of tequila and a box of condoms with a card that reads "Better luck next time!" (Much appreciated, I'm sure.) The Citrus Lane box is not only adorably packaged but has all kinds of baby and mommy goodies in there I would never be clever enough to think of buying on my own.

And the best part? You can enter to win one deluxe gift box today! One lucky winner will win a super cute prize box with an assortment of neat-o new mom and new baby stuff.

Simply post a comment on this post to be entered to win. Please include a real email address with your comment, because that's how I will contact you. I never re-use or abuse your email addresses, it's a one-time only entry for this prize. If you do not want your email address to show on your comment (people complain about that, among other things, awesome) just put a URL in the URL field and your email address will be hidden in a trick-the-innernet kind of way.

Giveaway ends tomorrow morning when I close comments.

This promotion is a sponsored giveaway for my site so that means there is all sorts of fine print:

Read the Official Rules.
Variable Promotion Terms & Conditions:
Promotion Sponsor: Citrus Lane, Inc.
Promotion Start Date: variable by blog between 9/9/2011 and 9/30/2011
Promotion End Date: variable by blog between 9/12/2011 and 10/12/2011
How to Enter: Leave an entry on the Clever Girls Network blog post stating that you are interested in winning a Citrus Lane box.
Prizes: One Citrus Lane gift box
Total approximate retail value of all prizes: $45 (actual value may vary).
Winner Selection Date variable by blog between 9/12/2011 and 10/12/2011
Prize Selection: Administrator will randomly select the winner(s) from all eligible entries

Good luck! happy Tuesday!

- - -

This sweepstakes has now closed, with a winner to be announced soon. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Posted by laurie at 11:04 AM

September 22, 2011

Reader Q &A: I would like a dating timeline, please!

Today's reader question is one I get frequently, and it comes up every time I write about dating:

I just have a question that you totally don't have to answer. I obviously read your blog, and I've got your books. I'm two years out post-divorce and still really struggling with the whole thing. He's moved on already (read: he has a new lady) and you had a post a while ago about online dating. I know it's different for everyone, but how long did it take you to feel like you were ready to date? --Julie

Here is another version:

I am SO happy -- and unhappy -- to hear that you have found a way to date again ... I know that sounds horrible, but let me explain. I have been divorced for 6 years (and separated for way longer than that) and have yet to be able to get myself back into the dating game. I do have a child, so for years I have been using that as an excuse....YES it is TOTALLY an excuse. Over the last few months a few of my other single mom friends have started dating and then I visited your site to see that you also were taking the plunge. So I hated it only because I felt like more of a loser that I haven't been able to do it. All of this on top of the fact that I think my ex-husband will be getting remarried within the next year. With all that said -- HOW DID YOU GET YOURSELF TO REENGAGE?
Love you,

Ladies, as much as I would love to give you a powerpoint slide with a dating graph and bullet points, I can't be your benchmark. What you read about me in a few carefully worded paragraphs each week is not a complete picture of my life. Comparing yourself to anyone -- especially a well-edited stranger -- is a recipe for disaster. One person could read this site and believe I got divorced and sat home alone for six years while another could read and believe I'm out every night of the week with a mystery man I keep private. Using another human being as your relationship pace car is a bad idea. The only person who can set your pace is YOU.

I could tell you my timeline in great historical detail but it wouldn't help. You will be ready when you're ready. That's the short answer.

One of the trickiest things about dating is all the input you get from well-meaning folks in your life. They want you to be happy, and they may believe the definition of being happy is being paired up so they urge you to pair up. "Date!" they say. "Go out, meet men, get back in the game! You'll meet someone!"

And sure, you will meet someone. It is not hard to meet someone, anyone can meet someone.

Loss and sadness and vulnerability are normal after divorce. After a split, you may feel empty, lost, sad, jaded, worried, restless, or all of the above. If you're picking a new partner from that vantage point, you'll make mistakes, like sleeping with a man too soon. Overlooking red flags. Agreeing to things you would normally hate. Ingratiating yourself. Focusing only on being asked on a second date. Pretending to be something you're not. Not even knowing who you are or what you want. Taking on another person's life (and drama) to fill a hole in your own. Picking men who aren't respectful. Looking for something to hold onto, even if it's a sinking ship.

You already know this. I'm not telling you new, groundbreaking information here. If you haven't been interested in dating again, there is probably a reason. You might not be ready. You might be happy with the life you have right now. You might be scared. You might be worried you're too fat/old/shy/busy. You might think dating is some big, huge life altering decision and that going on a date means you're ready to re-marry and settle down and that freaks you out.

Whatever it is, here are a few things to keep in mind about dating after divorce:

• You're not legally obligated to date again.
Yeah, I know, crazy, right? But you can stay single your whole life long if that is what makes you happy.

• Just because your ex moved on doesn't mean he is living on a love rainbow.
A man may move on five minutes before the divorce is even final, but it doesn't mean he is now living in a rose-scented land of unicorns and sparkles and bliss. It might mean he just upgraded to Bad Marriage Version 2.0 really quickly.

• It's a whole new world.
Right after a divorce you're still really focused on marriage -- even if you're focused on the demise of marriage, it's still marriage marriage marriage on the brain. This is a tricky spot. It's hard to see exactly what kind of choices are available for your future. After all, your choice was marriage and it ended and you're probably hurt and disillusioned. So what else is there? Perpetual divorcedom? That doesn't sound very awe-inspiring.

It takes time to let the possibilities percolate again. There are many different lifestyles that work for people -- living together, long-term dating, long-distance love, twice-a-week love, marriage, domestic partnership, friends with benefits, anything in between. Take your time with it. You may discover that what you wanted ten years ago when you were shopping for wedding dresses is not at all what you want or need right now. Give yourself some space to figure out what this new version of you might want from her life.

• You don't have to find THE ONE on your first date.
After my divorce I was a train wreck so instead of looking for The Next Serious Relationship Of My Life, I picked hot guys who were terrible relationship material but a whole lot of superficial fun. This is a totally acceptable strategy! And no one ever tells you about it!

Instead, people say stuff like, "Oh, don't worry, one day you'll meet THE ONE..." or "Just have hope, you're such a nice girl, and after my divorce I met THE ONE and now we're happily married with 2.5 kids and a beautiful home with hardwood floors and one of those kitchens you see in Nora Ephron movies." You will hear these things and secretly want to stab the person saying them. There is a time for many divorced women when the idea of remarrying sounds like the worst thing you have ever heard since they invented butt waxing.

My advice? Go on at least one date just for the hell of it. Go out with a man you never would have dated before you got married because he wasn't perfect husband material. How do you think I ended up at dinner circa 2007 with a 24-year-old Jamaican cricket player? And it was fun. Would I want to walk down the aisle with him and share finances? Of course not. You don't have to be on a marriage mission. It is actually completely healthy to just want to have light, superficial fun when you re-emerge back into dating.

• You get to define fun.
Women get panicked at the word "fun" when combined with the word "dating" because they think it means they have to sleep around. You don't have to sleep with any dude you go out with. It is perfectly OK to go out, laugh, hold hands and not fling your panties off on the first date or on ANY date.

I don't do anything I don't want to do with anyone I don't want to do it with and neither should you. People make too much of all of this. There's no date police out there about to cite you for going too slow or too fast. So keep your head on straight and do what feels right for you. If you don't know what feels right for you, you aren't ready to date yet.

• It's OK to retreat.
You may go on a few dates and abruptly decide you need to go home and knit a sweater for every person in your immediate family before you can go out again. It's fine. There is no graph on a doctor's wall with projected dating progress timelines. You get to take breaks.

• Avoid Dating By Committee
When you start dating again your friends and family may take it on like an art project. It's up to you to manage the amount of information they get about your personal life. It is your responsibility to listen to yourself and trust yourself and not make decisions based on the input of your friend who was last single in the Reagan era. If you think your choices can't be trusted because you've made such bad ones in the past, then get to yourself to therapy. If you cannot bear the idea of going against the advice of your friends or family, then keep your mouth shut and don't ask for their advice in the first place. Dating by committee is doomed to failure. Ask for advice when you need it, share stories when you want to, that's part of the fun. But don't look to a third party to make your decisions.

• And finally...
It's not brain surgery, this dating business. No one will just die if a date goes poorly or if you talk too much or if he's four inches shorter than you. The world will keep spinning on its axis.

I have met some genuinely great guys (both during the Inappropriate Guy time post-divorce and the more Appropriate Guy time of present day). I think people are endlessly fascinating, and I love that it's so much easier to meet people now with the internet -- not just dating sites, but think of hiking meetups, social meetups, any meetups. I'm old-fashioned and still prefer to meet people in real life (airplanes, church, my old standby the grocery store!) but there's a lot to be said for technology. For example, you get to text now instead of talking on the phone! This is technology gone right. No waiting around for the phone to ring, just send a text and be done with it.

Socializing is very hard for me. I'm naturally introverted and I get all nervous and dorky and speedtalk when I'm anxious. But while my natural inclination is to pull a full Emily Dickenson, when I push myself and force myself to get out of my shell I often have a really great time. I hope you do as well. I'm not sure where any of us are going with this, but every possibility is in play. Anything good can happen when you're ready. And only you know when you are ready!

- - -

P.S. I'd like to thank reader Lesle for emailing me a link to this wonderful story in the New York Times, The Plight of American Singles. The title makes it sound more dismal than it is, read it for some interesting insight into the ways single people contribute to the health of a community.

Posted by laurie at 12:35 PM

September 21, 2011

Sunset in the mountains

The view from one side of Mt. Wilson:



The view from the other side:





Posted by laurie at 10:26 AM

September 19, 2011

So much TV, so little time

It's Fall TV Time! And also, eventually it will be fall, but more importantly it is the time of year when re-runs go away and TV comes back with all your best old friends and a few new ones.

Which new shows will you be tuning in to this season? Every season I pick one or two new shows which seem to almost immediately get canceled (I am still not over you, Detroit 187) but this year I'm going to try a few comedies (The New Girl, 2 Broke Girls) and then stick with my usual drama diet: Pan Am, Revenge, maybe Person of Interest, and I will probably tune into at least the first episode of Charlie's Angels. I think I'm dropping Dancing With The Stars, it's too much TV and the only "star" I really like is Carson Kressley. Plus that frees up a good four hours a week.

One of my favorite shows is now being rebroadcast on American TV, on the OWN network -- Supersize V. Superskinny. I first caught this show when I was on vacation in London several years ago and I've watched most of the episodes online. What's being shown on OWN is the same show but with an American voiceover (what, do they think we can't understand a British accent?) and with noticeably more demure title graphics. I'm actually surprised it's even on American TV, it seems like exactly the sort of show that people would complain about nonstop, since it's fairly gooby and shows a lot of people in their underwear eating weird food. And people do love to complain.

The returning shows I like are Castle, and Bones (Temperance is preggers!), and both the New York and Vegas CSIs. This morning on my walk I passed four(!) different TV shoots along the boulevard, and one had trailers labeled for CSI but I didn't see any of the stars.

So what's on your Fall TV list? (The first person to smugly announce they have better things to do than watch TV gets the Debbie Downer of the day award, which isn't an award at all but is more like a rash behind the knees.) TV is an insomniac's best friend, yo!

Posted by laurie at 11:22 AM

September 16, 2011


It's time.

Let's talk about it, people ... THE STAND! So, what did you think? Did you start sneezing? Did you stay up all night scared out of your mind? Did you fall in love with Stu? Could you not believe that Molly Ringwald was cast as Frannie in the movie version? Did you think the Walkin' Dude was creepy? Did the descriptions of the flu make you more or less inclined to see Contagion?

Was this your first time with THE STAND or was it an old friend from a bygone day?

The reason I picked this book for our last summertime read is that it's one of my all-time favorite books. I know the ending is, well, not exactly a bow tied up all pretty and pure, but the journey is the best part of this book. I love every creepy, unstable, disgusting moment along the way to Las Vegas. I love the way King can weave you so fully into a character that you feel like you know this person in real life. I love that he mixes real-world real-life elements with goofy, over-the-top fiction bits and makes it all work somehow.

And now, as I'm writing my first piece of fiction, I have even more respect for this book. Here's a piece that is so epic and huge (and LONG!) and full of flavor and description and activity and after all these years at the core it still holds up. That is talent, and commitment, and work.

I often think about what life would be like in Los Angeles after a disaster (an earthquake is usually the impetus for these thoughts.) I wonder if I would be clever or strong or alone -- will I be a Frannie, a Stu, or a Nadine? I wonder how we as a society will work it out. Every time I revisit THE STAND it feels like I'm talking to my old friends, and it's still just as disquieting as ever.

I'm particularly interested to hear how first-time readers got into it. Were you disappointed? Surprised? Scared out of your minds? Taking long showers with disinfecting soap?

Let's chat!

I think the book weighs more than the calico.

Posted by laurie at 12:49 PM

The Great Escape

This story has a happy ending. Let's get that out up front.

My new neighborhood isn't far from my old one, but in Los Angeles you can walk across the street in be in a different movie. Pockets here and there, each with its own flavor. I'm just close enough to Hollywood for the flavor to have changed, all rentals, high-rise apartment buildings that all look alike, transient and busy. The first few weeks I lived here I would walk the neighborhood in the morning and feel discomfited by each flier featuring a new and different missing pet. How did they get out? I would think. And then I had to stop myself because there are too many ways a pet can accidentally get outside where the world is dangerous and full of cars and coyotes and fleas and if I thought about it too long I would make myself crazy.

Like most people what I fear the most is losing what I have and love. For me that is my family, of course, and the felines. I'm not one of those women who refers to her pets as her "children" and I'm well aware that having three cats puts me in a category of dating that is only offset by some fairly impressive boobs, if I do say so myself. What I'm saying here is that I don't apologize for having a little herd of animals but I'm not ever wearing a sweater knitted out of cat hair, either. I do care for them and fret and worry about their safety and I freak out each time one of them sneezes.

Last night the weather was so perfect, I opened all the windows to get some fresh air in the apartment. When it gets chilly like this the felines get wild and there was some running and playing and Frankie's tail got huge and bushy like the puffer fish of cat tails. I was in the bedroom watching TV and painting my nails and all was well in the world.

I walked into the kitchen to get a glass of wine and that was when I noticed Bob perched on the back of the sofa staring out the window -- the window that had once been covered by a large screen which now was gaping and hanging by a corner. I knew instantly that two of the cats were gone. I can't even describe that feeling but it was like being set on fire and punched in the stomach at the same time.

By the way, there is a perfectly rational explanation as to why Bob was still in the apartment. Unlike the other two, Bob has the gastrointestinal equivalent of an electronic monitoring bracelet and he is physically incapable of being more than ten feet away from the food bowl at any time. Bob is no dummy. He may be afraid of air and light, but he knows where the Meow Mix is at all times.

I opened the door and there was Sobakowa, scared and disoriented, but sort of pacing back and forth below the window. I have no idea how long she was out there. I brought her back inside and went looking for Frankie. It was dark and late and the top floor was empty, so I walked downstairs shaking a bag of greenies like a crazy person. I found Franks hiding low in a dark corner behind the cement stairs. As soon as she saw me she let out a caterwaul that when translated into English said roughly, "My GOD, where have you BEEN? How could you do this to ME? THIS IS HORRIBLE."

After everyone was safely back indoors I did some CSI-style investigating. My best guess is that in Frankie's exuberance to chase her own tail across the apartment she jumped onto the windowsill and dislodged the screen and fell out and freaked out. Sobakowa, always interested in the downfall of a calico, arrived on the windowsill to investigate. She saw the open window and decided to jump through it to see what was on the other side (much like the alluring appeal of the closed bathroom door or the partially-opened kitchen cabinet.) Once outside she was too short to jump back in the window and had to watch as the fat orange one stared at her from well within range of the food.

It was a very exciting night. I overfed the cats, overdrank the wine and vowed to invent an escape-less windowscreen.

At the end of the evening three things were clear:

ONE. My Big Pajama Decision of 2010 paid off. Back in late 2010 we had a brief earthquake. I remember being inside my home and thinking, "Is this going to keep shaking...?" and simultaneously looking down at my grubby T-shirt and unattractive leggings and thinking, "I hope this isn't the Big One because I'm in serious trouble with this outfit." Immediately afterwards I got rid of all T-shirts and cruddy leggings that had holes, stains, or references to Jimmy Buffet songs from the 1980s. When the cat escape happened I didn't even have to change clothes before rushing outside with a bag of greenies. Learn from this lesson. LIVES WERE SAVED.

TWO. People who don't have animals simply can't understand what it's like to feel the surge of panic and horror over a pet problem. I have lived with Sobakowa for almost fifteen years. That is longer than most marriages and many friendships. I know my cats. I know their routines, their moods, their preferences. Later in the evening, after the whole ordeal had passed, I got a text from Bachelor Number 1. When I told him about the big scary evening he wrote back with an authoritative, expert opinion informing me that "animals want to roam and explore and hunt and they will come back when they've had their fun." And that was how I knew this man had never owned a housecat. "You're an idiot," I assured him. "But later maybe I'll give you some parenting advice so we'll be even."

THREE. After a trauma, even two cats who usually dislike each other need to bond over a little catnip.

Swapping stories.

Posted by laurie at 10:55 AM

September 14, 2011

Bikini Waxing 101: The way-too-much information guide to waxing the lady cabana

My brief but bright career in the magazine field was based almost entirely on writing articles about hair removal. Not many people want to claim expertise in this field, but hair removal is a subject close to my heart and hootch. I have tried almost every form of hair removal available to the women of Los Angeles, and that is saying so much, but what I am here to discuss today is waxing with particular attention to bikini waxing.

Over the past few weeks as I've talked here and on Twitter about dating and its strange little rituals, one of the questions that comes up over and over is about dating-related hair maintenance:

Hi Laurie! I'm thinking about getting back into the scary world of dating but the last real date I had was around the same time that cell phones were the size of shoes. Times have changed. I'm worried! What are the rules these days on bikini waxing and general hair removal down there?

The most important rule is that any and all grooming you do is for yourself, not for some dude you just met. There will always be dudes. Dudes may say they want a vagina sculpted out of gold and smoothness and pulsating with beams of light, but the truth is that any man getting near your ladyhouse should (and will) be happy to be in the zipcode. In the moment, it will not matter if you are rocking the full Kong or if you are waxed like a shiny apple. Lovin' is lovin'. Do only what you feel comfortable with.

Also I believe by now we have already set the tone for this essay and my dad is somewhere in the middle of Texas wishing he could un-read words from his brain. Hi family! Let's talk waxing!

Before We Get Started
The subject of hair removal -- but especially bikini waxing -- seems to draw out the ire in some women. I want it to be known right here and right now that waxing has nothing to do with your IQ, your morality, your beliefs about feminism or God or sexuality. It's just a cosmetic option for hair. That is all.

I often hear women defiantly say, "I would never wax! If God intended me to be hairless down there he would have made me that way!"

By that reasoning, God intended me to be a near-sighted, mousy-haired molechild with a vitamin-D deficiency and an inability to be in sunlight for more than six minutes. No one freaks out by my liberal use of sunscreen, or my need to take vitamins, or my desire to wear contacts and get highlights now and then. My guess is that God doesn't care what your pubes look like. God probably has other stuff going on. It's a MUCH more compelling argument to just say, "Hey, you know what? I have no desire to pay a stranger to drip hot wax on my twat and rip my hair out from the roots."

I am pretty sure a lot of people will agree with your decision.

So wax or don't wax, it's up to you. I'm just here to pass along the information that might be useful for those gals who want to experiment with ladyhair maintenance.

Baby Got Wax

While there are a majillion ways to get rid of hair -- sugaring, threading, laser -- waxing is available almost anywhere on the planet, is affordable, effective and not that weird of a concept. Even your great-grandmother knows about waxing. Each service is priced differently depending on the intricacy and the salon. An eyebrow wax will run you $8-$10. Bikini waxing starts around $25 for the most basic wax and can run up to $125.

Anything that sprouts hair on the body can be waxed. At different times in my life, I have had my legs, underarms, eyebrows and entire lower body waxed into submission. You will probably need an appointment for a good salon so call ahead. The actual waxing time depends on how much work you're having done, but usually runs anywhere from five minutes (eyebrows) to twenty minutes (full lower body.)

How does it work? What is waxing, exactly?

Wax is warmed until it's soft and spreadable. It is not boiling hot -- doesn't burn the skin and doesn't feel uncomfortably warm. Actually, it feels kind of soothing going on, it's about the same temperature as a heating pad.

Using a wooden stick that looks a lot like a tongue depressor, the warm wax is spread on a hairy part of your body. Usually the wax is applied to small portions at a time. Then a clean white cloth is pressed down on top of the warm wax and the cloth is yanked off quickly, pulling the hair out at the roots with it. It's kind of like pulling off a band-aid on a hairy arm.

Does it hurt?

Yes. It hurts like a MUTHA. But if you go to a reputable place that knows their stuff it will be QUICK. The pain is not crazy overload pain, but it is shocking the first time. The pain is quick and over in mere seconds. My waxer Cindy can get me completely hair free from navel to knees in under 10 minutes. I want to kill a human while it is happening. And she goes where no man has ever gone. But then it is over.

It's my first time! How does a bikini wax work? Am I naked? Can I leave my panties on? Is it weird having a stranger up in your business?

A simple, basic bikini wax just removes the hair that strays outside your panties (this is the bare minimum grooming you want for bathing suit season, for example.)

For a first-time bikini wax, I recommend just a basic procedure. It will be whatever is cheapest on the menu. Wear your tightest, skimpiest panties to the appointment. For the more modest ladies, you can keep your panties on this way but don't wear your old granny pants. Wear something that exposes some skin.

The waxer will generally talk to you a bit beforehand about what you want. You will still have your clothes on. Then she will leave the room and you will take off your pants. Modest ladies, if you keep your panties on the waxer will probably tuck some small pieces of paper towel or kleenex between the cloth and your skin to keep the wax from getting on your drawers. Yes, it will probably be supremely weird for you if it's your first time but like all things in life you get used to it surprisingly fast.

She will spread warm wax on the hairy bits of your body. Press down on the spot with a white cloth and then quickly rip off the cloth and the hair. Yikes! But it's over that quick. There may be some stray hairs above the panties (up to the navel) and this will be removed, too. Some ladies have hair on the upper thigh, and that gets taken off. Then you're done. Put your pants on and go home and shower!

How long does it last?

Depending on how fast your hair grows, a wax can last anywhere from three to six weeks. Some people think the hair grows back finer or softer -- this is because waxing removes hair at the root and there's no stubble. Plus, all hair grows at a different rate so when your hair grows back there appears to be less of it at once, and it seems softer.

The major upside for me is there is no itching during re-growth. I shave my legs daily and sometimes my legs just itch. And if you have ever shaved your wheelhouse you know from itch. But with waxing I find there is very little itching when the hair comes back.

Do I need to trim before I go in?

No. The hairier the better. Your body hair must be at least 1/4" long to get a great result from waxing. This is also the downside of waxing, having to let your hair grow out. I used to get my legs and underarms waxed, but the grow-out period is too much for my girly pride.

Will it hurt the next day?
A little bit. Your bikini area will just be sensitive (underarms, too, though legs seem to recover quickly.) The BEST tip I can give you is to find some Bikini Zone! I use Bikini Zone cream or gel (http://bikinizone.com/) as soon as I get my wax. I buy a tube of this stuff at Rite-Aid ahead of time and I take it with me in my purse to my waxing appointment. After Cindy is done and I have been de-furred down to my esophagus, I slather on Bikini Zone. Then I go home, shower to remove the wax residue (I have very sensitive skin, and you need to get the wax traces off your skin) I dry off and zip on the Bikini Zone again.

You will probably have little red bumps the first day -- this cream helps a lot with that -- and maybe on day two. But by day three everything should be smooth and back to perfect.

How do I find a reputable waxer?

Ask your friends. Look on the internet. The best place in Los Angeles (in my opinion) is Pink Cheeks Salon. Just ask your girlfriends who they trust and who they feel comfortable with. If you want to try someone out, go in for an underarm wax the first time. I think underarm waxing is a great way to try out waxing ... you get a smooth result, the area is less sensitive than bikini, and you don't have to get naked.

OR, call your salon and see if they will do a test strip. That's where you go in and have a little place on your arm waxed as a test. You get to see what it feels like and how your skin reacts. It's essentially a patch test and all reputable salons will do it for you. Usually for free!

Do I tip my waxer?

Yes. 10-20% or whatever you feel is appropriate.

What is a full bikini? Playboy? Brazilian?

When it comes to bikini waxing there are all flavors of intensity. The basic bikini wax I describe above is at the tamest end of the spectrum. At the other end of the rainbow is the full wax -- everything gone, everywhere, including up the butt crack. Yes, people, I said butt crack waxing. And there are variations of intensity. You can leave a triangle, a landing strip, get more or less removed here and there.

For a more vigorous wax, you remove all your clothes from the waist down. Your waxer will delve into places your last husband may never have visited. I am fairly certain that Cindy, my bikini waxer, has seen more of my anatomy than my OB-GYN. If there is hair it can and will be removed. If my lungs sprouted hair I feel certain Cindy would invent a way to remove it.

A full wax (sometimes called a Brazilian) removes all your hair from all parts. You lie on your back on the table as wax is applied to areas you haven't thought about grooming ever in your life. Then you flip over onto all fours and wax is applied to any area that has hair sprouting -- cheeks, up the butt, top of the back thighs, all gone. You can leave some hair at the top or none at all, there are many levels of coverage and removal in the bikini waxing arena. Most salons will have a menu or will be able to explain the options.

My advice here is to start small and work your way up to a waxing intensity level that suits you.

Why on earth would any human choose to get all their hair stripped off the hoohah?
Don't knock it until you try it, friend. I walk out of Pink Cheeks and feel like I lost ten pounds and got two inches taller. Different people like different things. I know many women believe (or perhaps fear) that all this cooch grooming is because of men and their weird sex preferences. I firmly disagree. I have never once been intimate with a man who expressed grooming preferences for my private areas. I don't feel social pressure about my down-there hairdo. I just like keeping myself maintained in ways that make me feel good, whatever that is at the time. I paint my toenails even in winter ... to me it's the same kind of thing. It's a fast, legal, non-permanent, inexpensive way to change it up a little.

Can I get herpes/diseases/die from waxing?
According to the CDC, no. But someone is already writing about it in the comments and they are doing it in a tone that seems full of concern but is really just excitement to tell you YOU'RE ABOUT TO DIE FROM THAT BIKINI WAX. Even though they have never had a full wax, they know. YOU WILL DIE.

Listen, it does not matter what you write about or talk about or ponder, a concerned individual somewhere thinks it will kill you or give you a disease. (Someone once wrote to tell me the yarn color I was using had a dye that would cause skin cancer. FO REALS, YO.) I am not a big fan of gloom and doom internet crap. I am, however, a Grade-A OCD germaphobe and I pick all my salon-style services very carefully.

Somewhere on the internet there is a feverish, intense declaration that bikini waxing will give you ebola of the vagina. Here is my advice: Do your own research. Be sure the salon you go to is clean and follows all the safety and sanitation procedures for the industry. Use common sense. I know ... crazy, right? Common sense! Nuts!

If you are someone who is going to freak out and need a Valium from the very idea of a bikini wax, then don't get one. If you are deeply worried you will get vaginaebola from a Brazilian then don't get a Brazilian. There are plenty of at-home waxing kits and lots of other options, including shaving or going full native or dying everything pink. Do what works for you and what you feel comfortable with.

In Conclusion...
There aren't a whole lot of topics where I can claim expertise: catbox scooping, okra frying, Jeep repair bills, hangovers. That's a list right there, my friends. But I have been fixated on hair removal for most of my life and hope my forays into smoothness can help someone out there.

It's not cold fusion or world peace. It's just some hair. Let's keep it in perspective, people.

Posted by laurie at 6:33 AM

September 13, 2011

A few Tuesday things



1) I saw that germ movie, CONTAGION!!! I had to Purell myself repeatedly during the film. I think that every time someone sneezed I became more unhinged. I like to think of this sort of thing as exposure therapy, exposing myself to microbes both real and imagined to build up immunity. Then I needed to go to my home and disinfect the bathroom. Again.

2) In the midst of writing this thing I'm writing I figured out the plot flaw in Katie & Armando, a completely different project that has nothing to do with this one. I have made no money off either and soon will return to the world of work and commutes but until then I've been trying to pack in everything I can with the feverish need of a human being who is not really sure about the future of the future. At all.

3) In a few weeks I'm going to be visiting a different city with some family folks and for some reason it's fallen on me to pick the hotel and I am freaking out because it's a lot of pressure to pick a place other people will like. Usually I just find a hotel I think I will like, and if I hate it I get up and move the next day. But I realize other people need better decision-making from the gitgo and I am paralyzed with fear of disappointing my family. Several excellent things have emerged from this: ONE is that I decided where I am staying and that is a good start. TWO is that I'm excited about this little mini-trip in the fall, I've been so busy and crazy I had forgotten all about it. THREE is that it might be cold enough to wear a coat! If you live in Los Angeles you know how exciting that is for a local. FOUR is that my book will be done by then. And FIVE is that I have had enough therapy to realize I'm not really responsible for other people's fun and I just need to loosen up and bring out my inner hippie right now, so I have, and it is working.

4) SPEAKING of hippies. The hippie downstairs is amazing. If you don't know the story of the hippie downstairs, let me recap: He's a hippie. He gave my whole building a contact high. He favors plaid boxer shorts, patchouli and playing Bob Dylan songs on his guitar on the patio. His make-out music is old Crow Medicine Show, which seems the wrong tempo, but what do I know. He has a different goodlooking ladyfriend over every night. He once charged me $20 to use his garage clicker when mine wasn't working. That should bring you up to speed. So last night there was some crazy police action in our neighborhood and I heard the hippie downstairs tell his newest ladyfriend, "This police state is ruining my voice, man, I have to shout when I am more of a whisper man, you feel me? The whisper is my sweet spot."

And I wanted to die with happiness that I lived long enough to eavesdrop on a man saying those words. And then repeat them on the internet for your pleasure.

5) Finally, it was Sept. 11th again and this time I just didn't write anything. I was going to and then nothing felt appropriate or real so I just decided to keep it inside. Later that night I was watching the news and I saw the story of the airplane that had to be escorted to the airport by fighter jets because some of the passengers were spending too much time in the restroom. It was determined that two of the passengers were just engaging in a little mid-flight nookie. Now I am many things, but a prude is not one of them (germaphobe, yes, mon dieu people, find a cleaner place!). But I think the lesson to be learned here is that if you plan to join the mile-high club you should think twice before doing it on September 11th. Merely a suggestion.

Posted by laurie at 12:53 PM

September 1, 2011

Baby, can you dig your man?

Her face says, "But I am so scared! I do not like this book! You keep washing your hands and disinfecting things! And playing that creepy song about the Reaper!"

- - -

Are you on the road with Frannie and Stu and the bunch? Have you made it to Colorado yet? If you're reading the uncut version you may be trapped inside the dog's brain. I don't know, but I can feel pretty sure at least one of you is now thanking the Purell corporation for existing.

What's even awesomer is that the new Matt Damon outbreak-ish movie "Contagion" comes out next Friday so you can go sit inside a movie theatre and listen to people sneeze and cough during a movie about the deadly spread of bird flu through sneezing and coughing in movie theatres.

The first time I saw the trailer I was on a date. I was sitting in the darkened movie house next to a dude who was pretty much a stranger, really, and someone behind us sneezed and I had to break out the wet wipes and do some hand germ maintenance. He asked me out again, and neither of us got the bird flu, so this story has a happy ending. But I still haven't had enough therapy to share a popcorn with another human being unless I have actually seen them wash their hands with soap for the full singing of the alphabet. Baby steps, people. baby steps.

So our book club chitchat about The Stand is scheduled for Friday, September 16th (to last all weekend) but I wanted to check in with you all and be sure that's enough time for everyone to finish the book. Let me know.

And go wash your hands!

Posted by laurie at 7:57 AM