Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Lost Lashes: A Cautionary Tale

I can't remember how old I was when I started using an eyelash curler, but I can remember the day I regretted it.

Before I get into that, however, I must tell you that I have several friends who separate their lashes with a pin. A tiny, sharp, pointy pin! None of them has ever poked their eye (to my knowledge), but it still gives me the heebie jeebies to watch them do it.

Anyway, back to the day of my regret. While getting ready for a date, I was curling the lashes of my left eye. I was just about to release the curler when I sneezed. After opening my eyes, I realized that while I was still gripping said eyelash curler, said eyelash curler was no longer near my eye. And my eye was stinging somethin' awful. As I peered down at the curler with my one good eye (the other's vision being obscured by a torrent of tears), I saw what my sneeze (and vanity) had wrought. There, in a perfect little row, were all of my eyelashes. Except for one. When I was finally able to bring myself to look in the mirror, I saw one lonely, brave little lash sticking straight out of the middle of my rapidly swelling, otherwise-lashless lid.

Holding an ice cube over my eye, I pondered possible remedies. My date was picking me up in ten minutes, so what could be done? A sequined eyepatch? The fake eyelashes from last year's Halloween costume? Pulling all the lashes out of my other eyelid?

In the end, I applied a little extra eyeliner, and hoped for a dimly-lit restaurant. I don't think he noticed, although he may have wondered why his date spent most of the evening leaning in (she hoped coyly) with her right side.

Oh, and in case you're wondering? They do grow back. (Eventually.)

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Gate

Before I lived in Harlem, I lived in Spanish Harlem. My roommate was an independent photographer who grew crabgrass in a basket on her windowsill and charged me too much rent. I slept on a tiny bed with remarkably squeaky springs, and the evenings were humid and strangely quiet. In the mornings on my way to work I would often step over passages from Lope de Vega poems written in colored chalk on the sidewalk. The elusive Poetry Bandit struck often in our neighborhood; the unmistakable curl of his penmanship marking curbs and crumbling walls. When I returned from work in the evening the sidewalks were wet and dripping color.

My roommate let me know early on that I needed to carry canned goods with me at all times so that I'd have something to give to homeless people if they hassled me. I trusted her: she'd lived in the neighborhood for two years. I also hoped that every hostile homeless person I came across had access to a can opener.

One night I left the apartment to meet some friends downtown. My hair had been freshly dyed a reddish-blond, and I was wearing my lucky black suit. I was almost to the subway stairs when a man called out:

"Yo, yo Scully! Agent Scully!"

Several men on the stoops joined in:

"We love you, Agent Scully!"

I protested:

"You've got the wrong redhead!"

The construction crew (working late on the new high-rise) began to chant:

"Scul-LY! Scul-LY! Scul-LY!"

I stepped into the middle of the street, and waved up at them.

"I'm flattered, boys!"

In 2002, our post office was renamed the "Oscar Garcia Riviera Post Office", but when I lived there the sign said "Hellgate Post Office." After I saw the sign I got confused and told someone I lived in Hell's Kitchen. They corrected me: the Kitchen is West-side, mid-town. I lived at the

It was as hot as the Kitchen.

Monday, March 06, 2006


If I drank, I think I'd be a real lightweight. Seriously, a couple sips of wine cooler, and I'd be down for the count. I formed this hypothesis after an experience with some possibly post-expiration date cough syrup the other night. Please understand, I was desperate. After coughing up at least one (and possibly both) of my lungs, all the while feeling like my throat had had a recent run-in with a blow torch, I needed something to put me out of my misery. I found a bottle of generic Tussin something-or-other in the back of the medicine cabinet, and took a swig. A few minutes later I was so dizzy that I barely made it back to bed without falling into several walls. It did stop my cough, though, so there are no complaints here.

This brings me to my next, sort-of-related question: Have you ever fainted? I'm talking truly losing consciousness and dropping to the floor. I've come close a few times (the first was when I saw my brother's hand after he'd had an accident with a power tool - I learned the meaning of tunnel vision at that moment)(and why I'd never have made it as a surgeon), but I've only fainted once.

Less than a year ago, I awoke in the middle of the night with crazy, evil stomach cramps. I lay there, willing them to go away, trying to figure out from whence they came (that new Chinese place I'd been to for lunch? Avian flu?), but finally decided to get up and get some water. I made it to the kitchen with the lights off (didn't want to needlessly assault my senses or wake up the hubby), and poured myself a glass. I stood there sipping water and taking deep breaths, and finally decided to try to go back to bed. As I headed out of the kitchen, I suddenly felt really dizzy, and remember thinking: "I need to sit down RIGHT NOW." The next thing I knew I was flat on my back, the lower half of my body still in the kitchen, and the upper half in the living room. The water I'd had in my hand was seeping into the carpet and my hair, and the inside of my arm really hurt. Because it was dark, I was completely disoriented. Why was my hair all wet? What was I looking at? (Answer: the ceiling fan.) I lay there for a few minutes trying to comprehend what had just happened, and eventually got up on my hands and knees and crawled back to the bedroom to find Steve sleeping peacefully. How comforting that my fall hadn't awakened him . . .

I somehow managed to sleep, and when I woke up in the morning I could hear Steve in the other room. I got out of bed, and was a few inches from the bedroom door when I felt so dizzy I had to drop to the floor. It was there that Steve found me a few minutes later: lying in the middle of the bedroom. After he ascertained that I was still alive, his next words were: "What the heck happened to your arm?" I looked down and discovered that the inside of my left arm was scraped from elbow to shoulder, and the whole thing was black and blue.

As I lay on the couch later that morning, Steve became a Crime Scene Investigator. I sipped my ginger ale, and he went into the kitchen to try to reenact a fall that would explain the gash on my arm. I wished I'd had some of that montage music they always play on CSI, but I was proud that he didn't even need fancy equipment, fingerprint powder, or a gun to figure out what had happened to me. He simply questioned the witness (me), and used his own body to reenact the crime by falling several times in several different ways. Through this (sometimes painful) process of deduction, he was able to ascertain what had happened.

It's nice to know that, although he may sleep through my fainting spells, he can reenact them for me later with amazing accuracy.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Thoughts on a Thursday

Six things that make me feel old:
1. I sometimes wish I could play Frogger with a joystick.
2. I said something about Boy George to my youngest brother, and he responded: "Who?"
3. The fact that I mentioned Boy George.
4. My bum knee.
5. Every time I see Harrison Ford in a movie trailer, I'm surprised that he doesn't look the way he did in Indian Jones.
6. "Will that be all for you today, ma'am?"

Five things that make me feel young:

1. "Will that be all for you today, miss?"
2. Living in an apartment. (See also: poor)
3. Working in the Primary
4. Staying up late to eat junk food and watch a movie
5. Auditioning for roles I would never have been considered for in high school. (Before I turned 20, I was cast as spry old ladies, drunken British spinsters, and aging, vengeful queens. In grad school, I played a 16 year-old British school girl. Maybe by the time I'm 40, I'll be playing 10 year-olds.)

Four things that make me feel rich:
1. Being married to the kind, handsome, techno-savvy Steve
2. Family and friends
3. The gift certificates I got for my birthday
4. My new laptop

Three things that make me feel poor:
1. Washing my laundry involves quarters
2. Temping
3. The textured ceiling in our otherwise cute apartment

Two Things that make me feel anxious:
1. Misunderstandings
2. Caffeine

One thing I want before I go to bed tonight:

1. Chocolate