Bathing Suit Torture Part II: Call the Paramedics

photo by The Pie Shops Collection

photo by The Pie Shops Collection

My objective was to make my bathing suit shopping experience as painless as possible. The environment would be key. I needed a store that was calm with wide open aisles, soft music, helpful salespeople. Crawling under a disheveled clothing rack, searching for the elusive bottom to the perfect top, or wrenching it from the clutches of a woman who believed it was hers, would not work. Been there, done that.

So at 9:05am Monday morning I coaxed myself through the doors of Lord & Taylor.

There wasn’t a soul in the swimwear department. I glided around the circular racks like an adolescent guppy until I was sure I had seen all the offerings. It was so civilized. This kind of bathing suit shopping was a joy. I could do this! I let out a heavy sigh–breath I didn’t realize I was holding. I started to feel lighter, optimistic.

The perfect bottom was important. Not too Betty White, not too Kardashian. I found one pretty easily in a good shade of black. I felt around for the tag to see the size and saw instead the price, $98. I gulped. I rationalized, instantaneously, that although it was more than I wanted to spend it would be worth it if it fit well, looked good, and had me be back in the car with my ego intact. All that for $98?! It was beginning to sound like a bargain.

I glanced over at the matching top, took it off the rack and twirled it around to see the back. As I spun the hanger, a tag flew under my nose that read $198. How could that be? The price tag on the bottoms said… No way! Oh my gosh. I froze. They couldn’t be suggesting… No—

Yes, they wanted $98 for the bottom and $198 for the top. Assuming you’d need both, it would set you back $296. The last time I bought a bathing suit, you got the top with the bottom for one price. Gotta love the 90’s.

Before you could say “are you out of your freakin’ mind?” I was back in the car driving to the nearest Marshall’s, using the energy from my anger and hostility to fuel my focus. I gave myself a mini pep talk in the car. Don’t make this complicated, Eva. Just saddle up to the nearest cluttered, over-stuffed, disorganized rack and start grabbing.

But unlike Lord & Taylor, these bathing suits would be organized (a.k.a. disorganized) by size, not style. So what size was I? I really had no idea. I held up a 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14. They all looked the same. I took all of them. A combination of two-pieces and one-pieces and one that looked like a two piece but was really a one piece. Something strange was happening, somewhere in the middle of this haphazard plucking, I got rather bold. I pulled patterns and colors, bathing suits with zippers and buckles, one that had more than two straps with an appendage that looked like a shawl. I was going for it. And it felt good. It was time to step into 2000, I mean 2014! Geez, where had the time gone?

I’d try size 14 first−start large and work my way smaller, no?

I climbed into the leg holes and proceeded to snake myself into the rest of it. It did not go swimmingly. It was unclear which open spaces were arm-holes and which was the head cavity. I twisted at the waist and looked in the mirror to see what was going on in back. There was nothing back there. The remainder of the bathing suit was connected to one hip. Maybe it was supposed to sweep across my middle and be held up by one shoulder strap? Who knew? These things don’t come with instructions. There were several stretchy synthetic appendages. I yanked at them to find the longest one into which I stuck my arm. However, it only went slightly past my elbow. I curled my shoulders toward each other and hunched over while twisting from my waist toward the left−and yanked again, getting it only slighter higher up my bicep. Something was wrong. The strap dug into my flesh. It was too short and obviously not in the proper place. There were still other pieces of fabric hanging from my hip. What to do with them? I had to move this strap—it was quickly turning the lower half of my arm a concerning shade of red. Pins and needles were creeping up my hand. Still, I was hunched over with braided limbs. Moving this strap down off of my arm would necessitate some form of contortion. I bent my knees, tipped my head toward my stomach and twisted my left shoulder across my chest, while tugging at the strap. Then something terrible happened.

Since I’ve never been in this position before, and more importantly, I’m pretty certain humans were never intended to be—I threw my back out. Snap. I was frozen except for the excruciating pain shooting up my back. It knocked the breath out of me. I was a twisted wire hanger with two unbound protuberances. The strap on my arm still cut deep into my skin, my lower back felt bludgeoned as if by a garden tool, I was for all intents and purposes naked, and now, fearfully immobile. A breathy “help!” was all I could manage. Anything more aggressive would have ruptured an organ. I heard someone walk by. “Hello! Help! You, please!” I cried through the dirty louver door—grey, greasy fingerprints along the edges. I nudged the door lever with my good elbow and the door popped open. The look on the woman’s face was alarming. Sometimes I still see that look and that woman in my nightmares. She turned away and shielded her eyes. She said something in an unfamiliar language. “Please help me get this off, please! I can’t move!” I begged. She made a move toward me and I yelled, “No, don’t touch me, get a scissor−you have to cut it!” Of course, this was all quite mortifying.

A moment later she returned with a group. I was now, officially, a side show. One of them had a scissor. The moment she snipped the strap on my arm, I felt the tears stream down my cheeks. The relief was extraordinary. One lady yelled for someone to grab a robe. Another suggested they call the paramedics. Her friend asked me if I wanted anything.

Yes. I just wanted a bathing suit that fit well, looked good, and had me back in the car with my ego intact.

My Secret Hair Fantasy

photo by The Webhamster

photo by The Webhamster

I will let you in on a little secret. I sometimes fantasize that someday all human beings will be born bald. Okay, I know, a sizable percentage of humans are currently born bald. But I mean, stay bald. Like, never grow hair. An entire hairless human race. You might think a comment like that would come from someone living in eternal hair hell. Thankfully, I pretty much have okay hair. I have my fair share of bad hair days, but I also have a decent amount of good hair days to hang my hat on. And when those happen, I feel great.

That’s part of my problem with hair. Why do I need a good hair day to feel good about myself? That’s nuts. Hair? It’s an appendage for god sakes. My feet never make me feel any better or worse about myself. (Unless, of course, Lord and Taylor is having a huge shoe sale and my amply-sized feet won’t fit into any of them.) So why is hair so important? Of course there are all sorts of twists and turns of daily life which diminish or pad our happiness levels. Things we can control and things we can’t. So why let something as frivolous as hair impact our mood, our self-esteem, our confidence?

Apart from spending a fortune on hair – to curl or straighten it, dye it, perm it, style it, shine it, wax it, iron, extend, remove, highlight, process, tweeze, thread or weave it, etcetera, think of the hours spent on our hair. And sadly, most of the time after it’s “done,” we will likely say—we hate it.

Certain assumptions are made about people based on their hair. Don’t shake your head, you know it’s true. Sometimes these assumptions turn out to be not so wrong. But most of the time, it’s just another way we judge people.

Although at first glance this may seem like something of a girl problem, men are just as vulnerable in the hair department. Some guys have too much. Some guys have too little. When I was a teen, I knew a couple of guys whose egos took a beating from thick curly hair. In the 70’s there were few flattering options. Cut it short? Grow it long?

What about people who lose their hair after medical interventions? Do they really need to feel any additional hardships? Now they have to worry about how to deal with something as inconsequential as hair! Navigating the challenges of life is hard enough. I believe it would be much better for everyone to never have hair. Do we really need it? You live in Minnesota? Throw on a hat! You’re a Brooklyn Nets cheerleader? Work on choreography! You’re a hair stylist? Sorry.

Let’s admire people for reasons that matter. If we were all bald, it would be easier to look past the outside and regard people because they’re interesting, humorous, ambitious, inventive, kind, resourceful, dynamic, determined, talented, tenacious, inspiring, nurturing. Not because they have the perfect shiny bob.

Thermostat Troubles

photo by jonathan_moreau

photo by jonathan_moreau

Don’t you just hate those freezing cold nights when you wear your warmest flannel pajamas and thickest socks and hurry into bed but are still surprised by the smack of cold that comes off the sheets, so you pull the blankets up to your chin, even that one at the foot of the bed—you yank that up too and tuck the blankets really close to the outline of your body like your grandmother used to do when she tucked you in as a kid and you lie really still and hope this little cocoon you’ve created will somehow become a terrarium by way of your body heat radiating off you while being trapped within the confines of your blanket cocoon and you’re sure you’re gonna be toasty warm real soon, but that doesn’t happen—you’re freezing your ass off and you can’t sleep to save your soul and you think about your furnace and the heat, like where the hell is it? and how is it possible that the thermostat (set by you—to the same temperature every night) does not produce the same amount of heat every night and why tonight it is nose-nipping cold, but you have no answer for this, and somehow by the grace of God you finally fall asleep probably because your body is so exhausted by having worked itself up in a frenzy trying to keep warm that you pass out—and you sleep for  a while but don’t know for how long, all you do know is that when you wake it’s the middle of the night and you are in a panic because you’re practically drowning in a sea of your own sweat since it’s so Goddamn sweltering hot in your bedroom that you can’t strip your flannels off fast enough, and thank goodness the fifty pounds of blankets have been dumped in a mountain to the floor along with the bottoms of your flannels, and now you’re so desperate to get the wool socks off but you’re loathe to move too much at this point because you have a history of waking in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back to sleep so you promise yourself you will remove the socks without fully waking, and in order to do this you stay very still, or as still as you can, and you use the big toe of your left foot to remove the sock on your right foot and this goes pretty well which makes you happy, but you’re careful to not get too excited because this might wake you up entirely so you keep the celebrating to a minimum while you now use the big toe of your right foot to remove the sock on your left foot but as your right leg is in a chicken wing formation you get a Charley horse in your toe—if that’s even possible—and then another one in the back of the thigh of the chicken winged leg—which hurts like hell, but you can’t give in to it  because half of your body is still asleep and you must keep it that way, so you try to handle the pain as best you can without making too much of a fuss, so you sort of rock the bent knee of that leg up and down, a bobbing action really, and you clench your teeth and breath heavily through your clamped bite which creates a “chee, chee” sound—this helps with the pain and is quiet enough not to wake the other half of you and then out of the dark night you hear, “What the heck are you doing?” It’s your husband. You can’t believe he would brazenly speak out in the night like that, jeopardizing you’re attempt to stay in a partial slumber. To this you reply, “Shh! Stop talking, you’re gonna wake the other half of me that’s still asleep!” Silence. Phew, that was close. Then your husband says, “Well, if that’s the case, I hope it’s the sane half.”

The Long and Short on Memory

photo by Adrian Serghie

photo by Adrian Serghie

How’s your memory?

Certainly, if you’re anything like me you’ve probably had questions like these pop up from time to time: What’s her name again? Where do I know him from? Why did I open this closet? Where did I put my keys? What’s her phone number?

Some forgetfulness is innocent and normal and happens to everyone no matter their age. Some forgetfulness is more serious, or is a sign of more serious problems to come. Regardless, memory loss at the very least is frustrating and at the worst, tragic.

Personally, I’ve been concerned about my poor memory since I was in my twenties. I developed what I refer to as “police paranoia.” If while driving I’d see a police car in my rearview mirror, I always feared I’d be pulled over and questioned for something I had no recollection of doing. Okay, I’ll admit that’s a little extreme, paranoid and wacky (and perhaps a sign of something else I should be worried about!). But on the positive side, I used this crazy sense of imagination and my own memory paranoia to write my debut suspense novel, The Memory Box, due to release early 2014, about a suburban mom who Googles herself and discovers a past she’s unaware of.

In research for my book, I became intrigued about memory and the advances in science to thwart or reverse memory loss. And that’s why I decided to launch a new blog: thelongandshortonmemory.com. It will feature news from around the world about the complexity and prevalence of memory loss and groundbreaking advances on reversing it.

Why have I chosen to curate news on memory? Simply put, I’m fascinated by the topic and concerned for my own. And while I used to be reluctant to admit my own shortcomings, the more I do, the more I discover others with similar experiences.

It’s also true that memory loss is afflicting more people now than ever. Whether it’s hereditary, stress or poor diet, pregnancy or menopause, early onset due to repeated head injuries, or even cultural changes, more and more people complain of memory loss. Even our reliance on computer search engines, like Google, has affected our ability to remember facts.

You’ll also find personal stories from people who’ve experienced firsthand how memory loss can deeply affect the course of one’s life or that of a loved one. If you have a story to tell, please contact me, I’d love to give it a home on thelongandshortonmemory.com.

The first post is a positive one on the power of nostalgia. I hope you’ll check it out and please stop by often. Or at least whenever you remember to.

Visit here: thelongandshortonmemory.com