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.

It’s official! THE MEMORY BOX is a book!

The Memory Box_3DI’m thrilled to announce THE MEMORY BOX, the newest release in the hottest genre in fiction: the marriage thriller, is finally a book! It’s just been released and is available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon worldwide. With expanded distribution in the upcoming weeks.

This book has been long in the making and the road to publication was a pothole-filled journey. If you’re a writer, you know there are one million potential chances to hit a bump in the road, fall out of your car, get bruised pretty badly and decide driving is not for you. And you end up walking everywhere you go for the rest of your life. There are so many possible detours. Red lights that never turn green. Other drivers who swerve into your lane and crush your car to smithereens. Sometimes you’ll think you know where you’re going when you set out, only to get lost along the way. Other times you’ll simply run out of gas. There are as many opportunities to sabotage your success as there are days in your creative life, or even hours. To not listen to those cynical voices, whether they are external or internal, in order to get to this day—the day your flicker of an idea becomes a book—is close to a miracle.

There were many people whose encouragement, both big and small, kept me going.  If those of you can hear me, thank you for cheering me on, holding my hand or paving the way for me to go the distance. To you, I bow my head in appreciation.

This spring, THE MEMORY BOX had the distinguished honor of being a recipient of the Houston Writers Guild 2014 Manuscript award and it has already garnered some wonderful early praise. I hope it will find it’s way into your beach bag, train tote or carry-on luggage this summer. If it does, thank you so much for taking a chance on THE MEMORY BOX. Perhaps you’d also consider writing an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari or any social media platform you’re on. Reviews and word of mouth through social media will be invaluable to the success of THE MEMORY BOX. And every little bit helps tremendously!

Please feel free to share this exciting news with your fiction-loving family and friends. If you or someone you know would like to read THE MEMORY BOX in a book club, I’ll be available for personal appearances at book club meetings! I’d love to share in the book club conversation and pass on some never-heard-before stories about the inspiration for the characters and story. I’ll be available on Skype for book clubs outside the New Jersey area, so tell your friends in Mobile, Manchester and Mat Aafhis. (What, like you don’t know anyone there?)

Thank you so much for your interest and support! And as always, I so appreciate hearing from you. If you had a connection with something you read, I’d love to hear about it.

Here is THE MEMORY BOX book description:

What would you do if you searched your own past and uncovered something shocking?

In this gripping marriage thriller, a group of privileged suburban moms amuse themselves by Googling everyone in town, digging up dirt to fuel thorny gossip. Caroline Thompson, devoted mother of two, sticks to the moral high ground and attempts to avoid these women. She’s relieved to hear her name appears only three times, citing her philanthropy. Despite being grateful that she has nothing to hide, a delayed pang of insecurity prods Caroline to Google her maiden name—which none of the others know.

The hits cascade like a tsunami. Caroline’s terrified by what she reads. An obituary for her sister, JD? That’s absurd. With every click, the revelations grow more alarming. They can’t be right. She’d know. Caroline is hurled into a state of paranoia—upending her blissful family life—desperate to prove these allegations false before someone discovers they’re true.

The disturbing underpinnings of The Memory Box expose astory of deceit, misconceptions, and an obsession for control. With its twists, taut pacing, and psychological tenor, Natiello’s page-turning suspense cautions:

Be careful what you search for

How to make cleaning toilets more enjoyable.

toilet
In an effort to make cleaning toilets more enjoyable, I’ve made a game out of it. I recommend you try this; it’s endless fun.

After playing this game with some regularity and frequency, I’ve been forced to do a bit of soul searching and I’ve come to realize I’ll never be a hall-of-famer at this game. Sadly, I will not even be an all-star or team captain. Heck, I’ll never even make Varsity. Thusly, I’ve come to a difficult decision. I’m bowing out. And retiring the toilet brush. I’m not gonna play this game anymore.

Instead—I’ve decided to coach.

Luckily, I already have two extremely promising recruits. I believe with a little training and a lot of practice they’re gonna take this toilet cleaning game by storm. The bathroom will not just be their playing field, but their oyster. They don’t know any of this yet, of course, because they’re still second-guessing their abilities and displaying a lack of confidence. But these kids are young. They’ve got a bright future. The funny thing is, as green as they are, they’re not shy about expecting the big bucks! Slow down! This ain’t the NBA, kids! Am I right?
You gotta clean a load of toilets before you make it to the big leagues.

California Chrome’s Personal Stylist Comes Clean on the Nasal Strips

photo by Bill Brine

photo by Bill Brine

I shouldn’t tell you this, but as California Chrome’s personal stylist, my name is being dragged through the mud over this nasal strip fiasco, and I need to tell my story before People Magazine hears it elsewhere.

Full disclosure: C.C. is my first horse client. However, I’m no stranger to four-leggers with a discerning pedigree. I’m sure you’re aware of my work with the cat who did Breakfast at Tiffany’s on Broadway, and the donkey from Shrek (movies 1-4 plus the spin-offs), but a horse is a different animal altogether.

Let’s set the record straight. Do you really think I’d sanction that hideous nasal strip for a live, global, high-profile media event…maybe if I’m aspiring to be the new dishwasher at Ho Hum’s on Canal! C.C.’s handlers didn’t want to listen—but I had the only sensible solution.

Anyone with a thread of fashion sense knows that Ralph Lauren is all about horse hair footwear (Fall ‘15). I have a friend in the bootie department; she promised to hook me up with a swatch, ivory and chestnut. The swatch would easily adhere to the strip, creating a nasal patch toupee, if you will. A guy I know in the east village is a master at weaves. On the trickiest hair. He assured me he could weave the strip onto C.C.’s nose. Done. No visible lines. No questions. No NYRA approvals. But I never got the chance.

I’m sure you know by now that C.C. doesn’t have a breathing problem. His real problem is that he’s a scaredy cat, and it’s his reaction to being frightened that they want to keep under wraps. Unfortunately, there’s no telling what will make him jittery. A few of his triggers to date: Frank Sinatra songs (including covers), seaweed under hoof, women wearing coral lipstick or back tattoos, the smell of Fabuloso, anything on HBO. Horses usually let out a panicked neigh when they’re anxious or agitated, through their nose. C.C. can’t do this because of his deviated septum. Instead, he spurts a stuttering-lisp, like someone with a swollen tongue and rapid-fire hiccups might do. Replete with spittle. It’s utterly embarrassing. The only thing that reverses this are the nasal strips. Trust me; he simply cannot do national T.V. without the strips. But the white plastic patches?

I don’t get it. We spent a small fortune covering his unsightly varicose veins with Prada tube socks. The Zorro mask with embedded audio (thank you, Hammacher Schlemmer!) to play Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed a Dream—the only thing that keeps him calm—was an arm and a leg. And, let’s not forget about the saddle pad custom fabricated by Spanx! All this and then a snout accessory from Walgreens aisle 4.

Obviously, I had to cut ties with C.C.’s people. I wish them all the luck in the world, but I can’t be associated with an oversight of such proportions. My reputation is all I have. Let it be clear, I would not now, or ever in the future, do white vinyl on horse hair.

Well, unless it’s a lovely little Hermès number.