The Underwear Theory

It comes down to the undies.

Simple. There's really only two kinds of people in the world - those that would rather let it all out and those that would rather hold it all in. Translated to undergarments, it comes down to the old boxers and briefs question for men, and the thong-to-full-panty continuum for women.

See, I believe half the population is hoping that their parts will never be released to swing freely,or be even vaguely suggested in outline. They cringe at the sight of nipples and penile bulges, freeze at a breast that bounces too freely, worry that skin will show in the wrong place - which could be anyplace not associated with the head, neck or lower-half of the extremities.

The other half of humanity is just dying for garments that let it all hang out: oh yeah, the slinkiest thong that's just an excuse for exposure, the lowest cut briefs, the silk boxers that are next to nothing, or, speaking of nothing, the Nothing. You know, the legions of secret commandoes that pay no attention to mother's admonition to 'always wear clean' and actually wear nothing under at all. Shocking.

Myself, I'm a bit schizophrenic when it come to underwear, sometimes daring the bare, sometimes holding it in. But even though I may embrace full-bottomed hip huggers for a day or two, I never, ever, ever make it to briefs. At least anymore. Briefs remind me of my mother's drawer full of white nylon panties, delicate size sixes carefully folded into perfect silky puffs. She wore them - the full cheek covering, belly-button concealing design - under a full panty-girdle and support pantyhose. I never saw my mother without them: never a glimpse coming out of the shower or getting dressed, or even getting a swimsuit on. Pubic hair was a rumor, - until I was confronted with all the early maturing girls in the locker room, and much later with my own sprountings in all their dark Italian glory. I was horrified.

Was I a failure? Had I done something wrong to deserve this transformation? Was god punishing me with less-than-straight hips and this set of weeds? How would I ever change in public again? So,I succumbed to the parental full-panty party line immediately, searching out the right amount of material to completely cover my posterior and nether regions. (I was convinced my butt would look smaller with the right underwear.)

Embarrassment makes you become a 'keep it all in'. Terror keeps you there.

But once the cloud of pubescent shame passed, I started noticing the less tight types - the braless wonders, the freewheeling skin revealers, the slighty exposed tempters. Something was going on... Compared to my parents - with their raised eyebrows and clucks and disapproval of bodily motion - they were heathen sexual upstarts, embracing chaos and confusion. They had a lot more fun. And I started thinking, "maybe my contained feeling, the dampened perspective of a nylon panty prison, the metaphorical manifestation of "keeping it together" did not have to be." I too could dare.

So it began. Pink cotton daisy hip-huggers under low-waisted jeans. Low slung black silk under Gloria Vanderbilt black disco spandex. Sheer yellow stretch under hotpants - with no fear of exposure. Talk about liberation from the ground up.

Yep, I threw away the briefs and landed at hiphuggers - and later on discovered the joys of thong. I've never looked back. Except when it's really cold or I'm feeling fat.

Maybe it's nothing really in the grand scheme of things. I'm sure great people come from both camps....conservers and creators. Both types come in all shapes, sizes, professions, religions - and politics. It's not a fair guess to say that conservatives are tighties and liberals loosies. I know plenty a randy republicans that spout conservative values but wear bare. And there are plenty of uptight and righteous democrats. But at least in this society, checking for the outline or the bounce, or lack thereof can at least give you an indication of what kind of encounter you're about to have. Especially on weekends.


That's me as the one of the uber mothers in the Ken Roht's 99 cent show.
The 99cent Experience Posted by Hello

Living in the Credo

I’ve been asked to create a credo.

It’s for a writing workshop; you know, one of those lovely insulated experiences in life where you and a group of strangers reveal increasingly more intimate selections from your life and thoughts, the ones more commonly reserved for death bed confessions. Seriously, a writing workshop for me is usually a place of safety, discovery, and inadvertent therapy, where schools of unchecked prose and first drafts swim in hopes of finding new forms. A place where my I do my best to discard comparison, jealousy and self-loathing - and find them crawling out of wastebasket and following me home. A place where the worldly me crashes into the provincial, and produces instantaneous perplexity. I love writing workshops.

Back to the credo - ‘a system of principles and beliefs’ so the dictionary tells me. This should be easy: I’m a fairly consistent, reliable and well intentioned human being. Except when I’m not. Like just today I was supposed to be at a production meeting, and I always call if I’m going to miss or be late, but I had this headache, sort of a PMS-exhaustion thing where I was driving along thinking I was going to peuk, so I turned the car around, went home, and crawled into bed for a nap filled with guilty dreamlettes about irresponsible phone practices. That’s the efficient set of beliefs I hold in action.

Or how I hold patience and equanimity as the highest human virtues, and put forth a steady font of reasoned understanding and warmth, especially with my son, until the little troll inside him presses just the right buttons and I fall from the Bodhi Heights into Married With Children madness.

Let’s face it, I’m a messy human: my actions don’t always match the principles and beliefs, so I get confused. If I believe with my heart and soul that family and friends are the most important things, why do I find myself in a deep and personal relationship with my computer? Do I lack the full commitment to carry out a credo-bound existence and will my epitaph be ‘She was a Waffler’ ?

Maybe I get my beliefs wrong. Perhaps hiding under the easy answers, the ones gleaned from new age mantras and refrigerator affirmations, could be principles that actually guide my actions. Let’s see….

I believe in living each day. Most of the time this is accompanied by the phrase “to it’s fullest”, but I’m really more interested in just the living, as in getting through the day. And it’s not a downer for me: I just like the idea of quotidian philosophy that says ‘nothing special shall happen and that’s OK.” Sort of chop wood and carry water - but more like get to work and carry groceries.

I believe in destroying love - as it is currently advertised. Down with lipgloss moments and fawning adoration. Now that I’ve surged responsibly past the age for reckless romance, I like the idea of love as a dependable construct informing all relationships. It’s imperfect love, the kind that recognizes foibles and difficulties as the ground for possible growth and deeper interaction. That way ‘love thy neighbor’, ‘thy enemy’, and on most days ‘thy spouse’, become imperatives for understanding not desire.

I believe in dispelling delusions of contemporary culture. I want to shout loudly in the crack between ‘art’ and ‘commerce’ and find ways to illuminate them both with the multiple realities that constitute our world. There’s a

And lastly, I should mention I believe that interrelatedness is all. Relationships, connexity, interaction, causation, interconnectedness – all those lovely words govern every aspect of being and as I realize how every action, even thought, has it’s repercussions in my immediate world and the world at large, I can hold myself accountable for actions and also realize the immense complexity of all.

I should mention that I’m a closet Buddhist. See, here I go again, qualifying the nature of my beliefs, in fear that I can’t live up to them, but revealing myself as one less attached to a ideal reality goes a long way to maybe making all of this fit together in an understandable package. That way I can strive to ‘lessen suffering’ but know that I’m just as much caught on the wheel of existence as the next of our 6 billion friends and neighbors.

When it comes down to it, I can just resolve to be the best ‘messy human’ that I can be. Beliefs and principles can dance above the clouds in Platonic ideation, and when I take them down they can immediately become sullied copies of the originals that they once were. The pursuit of perfection can be realized as the impossibility it is and shelved once and for all, and life can be lived in the moment. I know – ‘in the moment’ – is the overused answer of the decade, but for the mixed up, multifaceted, overloaded life I seem to lead, there’s hope in just staying where I am.

What does this mean for writing? Well that’s another essay that I would normally attempt to write in the last 5 minutes before leaving the house, and then take too much time to complete, and be late and take other peoples time…so it’ll just have to wait for next week.

I believe in the paradox of living. Now that can go on my refrigerator and stay there.


More, More, More

I like More.

More is designed for me, the women with less. But really, don’t we all have less than More. More makes us content that there are others, thousands in fact, that turn to More to determine exactly what it is that they have less of. More is for you. More is for me.

If you don’t know, More is a magazine geared to you and me, the ladies of a certain age. You know, that certain age being somewhere after the decades of blind aspiration and delusion and somewhat before the ravages of resignation and depression. More has pictures of all the things you want and should deserve at this point in your life, but probably don’t have. Maybe you have the husband, but not the big house. Or you too many or little or no children. Or you have more money and less happiness. Or more thigh and less waist. Too much sex, too little time….on and on.

More speaks to all of this. And More can double speak in such a way that you think you have more already, but setting the ground for dissatisfaction even as the sentence is uttered.
“Guaranteeing your Retirement: you have your first million socked away, now what?”
“Whittling your waist away without wasting away – how to back up from the anorexia precipice” and
“What to do if ‘Too Much Love’ is your problem.”
Okay, I exaggerate, but if on one page there’s an article telling me to accept my body and my life, and on the next there’s an ad showing an impossibly good-looking couple sailing their yacht into the sunset, isn’t there a contradiction in terms? I know mags survive on the ads, I’m not naieve, but what slim percentage of the population are they targeting.
Maybe More is not for me.

Now don’t get me wrong. When I first held a copy of More in my hand, I thought “I have found my people.” More told me I was no longer GenX, that Madonna and me were Generation Jones, that women my age start running (and never stop), that the whole world needs to know their bra cup size, and I shouldn’t have married my husband according to the money matters poll. All affirming my great and wise superiority.

More is better than less.

Most of the time.

What More misses is that if you’re leaning on the excess button 24/7, you know, something else might be coming down the chute, and that might include more despair than you’ve dreamed of. You want it all? You have to be ready to take it all, because an essential part of you having more of everything is that somebody will be having quite a bit less of the thing you’re stockpiling. Less pie, less clean water, less jobs, less dignity, less fair and square and lest we forget, less living. The rule of our capitalistic excitement is not ‘winners for all’: it’s may the best game-player win by cornering the market on more.

I can hear all the ‘la-la-las’ while well dressed women stick fingers in their ears, preferring to shop for sweatshop bargains and flush Martha Stewart paint thinner down the drain. Or the mounting shouts of ‘un-American!’ as dedicated imperialists decide that more oil and less foreigners are in their best interests. And don’t forget Christian Right-off-the-Edges, claiming holy right to dominion over the earth because God said to kill all the species and turn the planet into a Walmart parking lot. Liberty and freedom for all = more for all. Or at least the all that is just like you.

I also hear the chants, affirmations and daily mantras of the ‘there is enough in the Universe for everyone’ crowd. In their whoo-whoo land of abundance and focus and power from the Everlasting, it’s my own fault if I haven’t lifted my consciousness away from the fray enough to realize my full potential. God or OM or Big Smarty Pants in the sky doesn’t want you to suffer, so claim your happiness! Why should you go out low when you get go out high? Not often is this idea supported by the idea that happiness could be primarily based in giving and kindness: Uh – that’s doesn’t really sound like More. At least in this Millennium.

Now I’m coming up with more reasons for you to tell me to be quiet, and enjoy the Gucci while it lasts. I’m just a spoilsport reading this mag in a coffeeshop, typing away on my laptop while sipping a latte before I jump in my mini-SUV and go off to the gym, merely comforting myself with the increase in my guilty conscience and my increased awareness of life’s paradoxes. And as I flip the pages of More, secretly strategizing for the mutual fund success, for the abs, and for the fulfilling relationship, I realize that until I stop reading junk like this less, I won’t have time to enjoy life more. Gotta go.



It's the awards season.
And that means free stuff - handed out from wanna-sells to the give-me-mores - better known in Hollywood as Swag. It’s true. Since this years crème de la screen is going to be visible as JJ’s booby at the Superbowl, marketeers of luxury paraphernalia set up shop in the swankest hotels and generously dole out the goods, in the hopes that celebrity X will drop the company name. It's a schmooze frenzy with booty bonuses. Listen, if a star-lotta schedules it right, on a good day the busy gal can shake down $20,000-$30,000 in jewelry, accessories, services and still have time for a free all-you-can-eat buffet of Malaysian shrimp and curried kumquats on arugula on the patio.

It doesn't take much for me to plunk myself down in the middle of this utopian hallucination. There I am ; with more hair, shoes I can't walk in, and an assitant named TipTip to carry the loot, marching through the tony temples at Beverly Hills hotels bringing it home.

Yeah. Give it to me, give it to me, give it to me. Now.

I NEED a Gucci-mani-tino bag: preferably in the green apple mock lizard with a 24 Karatine clasp that says "you are" and says it again when ever I forget who "I am". And after that, how 'bout a set of dangly spangly doowop ditty earrings and cleavage-bound pendant to match, cause I do promise that I will wear them to any blockbusting well-lit affair and I will sparkle in your company's logo splendor. And while you're at it, throw in personalized highlights, a dandy blow-out and gentle fingers dipped in the latest color pots to give me a new face. Oops- you forgot my product - you know the multiple squishy-hard, subtle-crazy, tubes and bottles containing the secret substances that are defined as a hairdo singularity. More product.

That's better! And now I'll be your walking-talking spokesmodel, parading all the stuff that I could afford on my measly $125,000 a week, but really find so much more fun when it's gifted. Since you gave it to me, you write it off on your taxes. Since it's a gift, I can easily hide it from the IRS . It's so simple.

Seriously, I'd love a little swag. Not the above mentioned items, which would be wasted on my mommy get-a-life existence, but swag that would torture friends and neighbors with my new hip, slightly-above the bottomline savvy and excess. Swag that would get me to speak up proudly about a consumer dynasty, saying it loud and proud, " I Buy Here!"

So, Home Depot....Swag me! Yeah, if you gift me a sleek mod faucet set to replace the leaking one in my bathroom, at my next dinner party (Ralph's chicken and a hastily tossed salad) I'll place a little placard in the toidy extolling the usefulness of your maintenance temple.

Cingular - Swag me! Not with a fancy jeweled talking phone, but with 3 months off on my cell bill. That's a way to a budgeters heart! And I promise I won't be tempted anymore by (gulP!) T-Mobile, Nextel and CheapCalls - even with the 17 offers a day I get online and in the mail. I promise. And while you're at it, can you send me a cute guy - maybe one that looks like the guy in the commercials (whoops, that's Verizon) - well, send a cute guy that can tell me how to work my phone.

Marshall's, TJMaxx, Saks SFO - Swag me! Swag me! Swag me! How about ponying up a two years supply of discounted socks and bras, an ever lengthening set of sweatpants for my son, and please-God-new-underwear-for-my-husband. The words 'Macys', 'Neimans', and names of any other store I never have the dough to shop in will be forever excised from my vocabulary.

Blue Cross - how 'bout an upgrade in my health insurance, so it would actually cover my trips to the doctor? That would sure make the gals scream. And speaking of screams, how about a better $20 Rudy's haircut that doesn't produce loud cries of panic? Or a 20-something Goodwill guide that can show me how to look good on $72.57 - my shopping budget for the year after the holiday extravagance?

I go to far. It's not swag I want. I actually want a release from the jaws of consumerist fury that continually grab my head and shake it like the empty rattle that it's become from too many years of trying to figure out what it is that I'm supposed to desiring. Or a clue on how to have manageable financial existence. That's not jealousy provoking... that's just mediocre middle-class misery. How pitiful - I'm not even capable of getting up to credible swag-mania.

But - who cares? I mean what's swag anyway? Really? It's draperies and stolen goods - that's what the dictionary says. There's no mention of dubiously-deserved rewards for grueling weeks of hard work on a hard body. Swag is festive and ornamental festooning. Or 'valuable goods' most often stolen and found in a swagman's (yes, that's a word) bag. Or the way one walks when carrying too much swag. To swag. If you put it all together... ornamental doo-dads, a staggering walk, stolen goods...

Mmm. Do you think if next year, I dressed up like Liza Minelli and staggered throught L'Ermitage two-days before the Golden Globes, I might cut me a little swag? Just thinking. Till then...BV


Opening the crate