Sunday, July 5, 2015

The gritty underbelly of glamor

Every glamorous thing has its flip side, when reality smacks you in the face.

You know what I mean - that fleeting “I hate everything” moment that comes to all of us. 
We tend to shun such unacceptable thoughts because it’s not nice to hate and my mother taught me to count my blessings.  

Counting blessings is good, but there’s still that moment….

Here are some examples you may relate to: 

Having a Baby. 
What a wonderful, exciting event!
Everyone gushes over you; you get to buy new clothes; people hold parties just so they can give you gifts; and babies are so adorable….
Then, there’s that moment when you realize it may be years before you sleep a night through, there’s spitup stains on the shoulder of every blouse you own, your figure will never be the same, and good god will he never stop crying?

Getting a Job out of College.
What a wonderful exciting event!
Everyone gushes over you; you get to wear grown up clothes; you’ll be raking in the dough; and the girls will swoon over your hot new car….
Then, there’s that moment when you realize you hate your boss, the paycheck barely covers the rent-plus-student-loans, 6 am is freakin’ early, and oh god am I really going to be doing this every day for the rest of my life?

Falling in Love.
What a wonderful exciting event!
Everyone gushes over you; you go buy sexy new shoes; there’s magic in his every look and touch; and he is so handsome….
Then, there’s that moment when you realize he farts in bed, he wants to watch sports all day, your sink will never again be free of dishes, and how could anyone hate your mother.

You know what I mean.

Well, I reached my “I hate everything” moment yesterday.

I hesitate to share this side of me, because I know you all think I am “living the life” here in Tuscany. Yet, in the interest of honesty, here it is: the gritty side of the glamor:

For the last month I have basked in the sun, savored nature’s bounty for every meal, relished getting my hands into soil again, and appreciated all the abundant plant and animal life.

Yesterday, that all changed.

First, I was so frickin’ hot. Yes, I know you all are hot too. But (and yes, I am whining) I have no air conditioning, no cold water, no ice (the freezer doesn’t work), no access to a pool or lake, and I’d surely expire if I rode the bike into town for a cold beer.

Second, my love and appreciation of all things living is kaput. I’m talking about mosquitos. Are they really one of God’s creatures? Why, I ask, why?

Sure, I br­ought repellant, but I’m pretty sure the jokester at the factory put attractant in my bottle. I have so many bites, I look like I have chicken pox. The little bastards are stealth machines – tiny and silent. I seldom even see one to swat at. But the evidence of their presence is abundant. Last night, as I lay “protected” under my mosquito netting, I saw one fly by my face. I wanted to cry.

I tried rubbing my body with mint, basil, and clay from the stream (the clay was a good look). These are supposedly natural repellants. Not.

The Buddhist owner here says mosquitos don’t bother him and that I just need to make peace with them. So, I tried to create positive zen energy by telling the little buggers I would not try to kill them if they would not eat me alive. I actually refrained from swatting them for a period…but they did not reciprocate the kindness….

So, fuck natural remedies and fuck sending them positive energy. I resorted to Deet. Nothing like bathing in chemicals every morning and night. Plus, there’s the smell. Ugh. I laughed when an Italian lady at the market said to me, “Oh, you smell good. I love your perfume.” Parfum de Deet, it’s all the rage. Then, I ran out of the stuff, and you can’t find it here.

I’ve hardly slept at night due to the sensitivity of all those bites and I can’t open the windows because the screens suck and it’s too hot out there anyway.

Plus, I was tired of dirt under my fingernails.
And tired of getting shocked every time I plug in my old metal-sided computer (power converter not withstanding).
And I would have killed for a burger, or a Starbucks iced latte, or even a popsicle.
And then, the final straw. I had a gastrointestinal reaction to something I ate and my stomach was in revolt.

That’s when it happened. I got to that point. The “I hate everything” moment.

It came in the middle of the night and I didn’t fight it.
I just lay with it. I looked it in the face, acknowledged it, and accepted the moment.
I knew that it came from a culmination of many things: losses, challenges, changes, incessant itching.

I relished, for a moment, the grief that still rolls over me from some of the recent transitions in my life. I let it lie on me like an exhausted lover, cherishing its weight, then patting it on the fanny and telling it to move off.

I sighed, for a moment, over the feeling that life is just too hard, sometimes. I let that belief soak gently into me and disappear, like soft rain on hard ground.

I said out loud, “And I’m tired of trying to speak freakin’ Italian!” And that was okay, too. And it made me laugh, which made my stomach gurgle, which made me giggle again.

And then it was done. My happy equilibrium returned and I fell to sleep peacefully.

I’m a big believer in letting all emotions have their moment in the spotlight, without judgment. Yet, we are taught to repress our negative emotions. We've all seen someone yell, “I’m not angry!” or say, “Everything’s fine,” with their features screwed up tight, or deny that they are irritated, after pitching a bitch fit, simply because being irritated is not on their list of allowed emotions. This is something we learn from years of social training.

The best way to get to the other side of an emotion is to lean into it. Kind of like crossing a river. You can lean into the current and move through it, or you can turn your back to it and let the current knock you in the knees.

“What river? I don’t see any river.” 

Denying it does not make it go away.

We start early to indoctrinate our children on this “just say no” to emotions. If a child comes home complaining about a teacher, most parents say all sort of things like: “She’s just trying to help you,” or “You need to be paying better attention,” or “It’s not nice to call her a mean old cat.” And the child will argue back and explain and get more upset (because he hasn’t yet learned the rule about which emotions are okay and which are not).

I learned, with my kids, that acknowledging the emotion immediately diffused it. I would simply say, to the complaining child, “It sounds like you’re upset.

He would look me in the face and say, “Yeah.” Then, having been heard and understood, he would go play and forget all about it. Try it. It works.

It worked for me last night. I looked that unpleasant emotion in the face and it quickly disappeared..

So, I say, let those emotions have their day. Lean into them. Let them be in the spotlight for the attention they crave. Then, they will simply escort themselves off stage, like characters whose scene is over, leaving you to enjoy the play.

And in the meantime, is anyone willing to mail me some Deet???? Email me at

1 comment:

  1. Nice! Loved the honesty. Good advice. I will mail you some Deet. Email me with info.


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