A Line in the Sand of Cool

W Hotel

Looks like an ordinary hotel, right? Well, that's where you're wrong.

This last weekend my husband’s company had their annual Christmas party in Atlanta. The gathering spot, and site of almost all the weekend activities, was the Midtown W Hotel. I’ve never been to a W hotel, nor had I even heard of them, a fact greeted by much surprise from several friends, who all said, “Oh, I love W hotels!” The website showed a fairly swanky, urban place, and I looked forward to checking it out.

We arrived rather late on Thursday night with a co-worker of Evan’s. The outside was unassuming enough. We stepped through the sleek, glass Star Trek doors and entered a dark den of cool. Loud club music (UN-siss UN-siss UN-siss) played, lights danced over black walls, distressed concrete floors sat under our feet. Three desks, that both did and did not look like check-in desks, waited smugly in the corner for our approach. We shouted to the desk clerk (UN-siss UN-siss UN-siss) in order to be heard, got our room keys (and our very cool swag bags) and bolted for the elevators.

“Do you feel like this place is above our cool pay grade?” I said to Evan’s co-worker. “I think they should set up a force field around the outside, and only if you’re cool enough can you enter. I definitely think I would have been bounced back.”

The elevator doors opened. “Good Evening” said the mat on the elevator floor. “Huh,” I said. “Do you think they change out that mat three times a day?” I thought of the minimum wage worker whose job it was to change said elevator mats, and wondered how he or she felt about that.

Inside our room, which was spacious and lovely and had a great view, I found myself confronted by an aggressive faucet, made of metal blocks. “Go ahead,” it sneered. “Try to figure out how to make the water come out. I dare you.” Chimpanzee-like, I slapped at the metal blocks until water began to flow. I could not figure out how to make it hot. The shower, which had no door, similarly taunted me. “Are you cool enough to turn me on?” it demanded, like a high priced escort. “No, shower,” I immediately confessed, “I am not.” As it turned out, it was actually much more difficult to turn it off, an act requiring jet fighter-like precision in order to find just the right place to shut it down.

The Living Room

The Living Room. Note ceiling cut outs and chaise lounge swing.

We went back to the lobby bar, The Living Room, to meet Evan’s co-worker for a drink. On account of a misadventure the day before, I ordered an orange juice, and marveled at my surroundings. Above my head were oblong cut-outs, containing backlit pictures of trees photographed from below. It was pretty, but again I lacked the cool to truly understand the juxtaposition of the depiction of natural beauty alongside black, oval swings you were supposed to use like chaise lounges.

And this is when the people started arriving. A great herd of hipsters, the likes of which I’ve rarely seen in the wild, flooded through the doors. It was a herd of male hipsters, perhaps young bucks not yet ready to claim their own females. Their magnificent calves were caressed by the best skinny jeans money can buy, their ankles highlighted by upturned cuffs. Decorated with faux hawks and black framed glasses, sleek scarves and army jackets, one can only assume, from an anthropological perspective, that these displays were to assert dominance within the group.

Not that these were the first hipsters I’d ever seen. I actually count as one of my dearest friends a hipster. His name is Axel Gimenez. That is his actual name. Clearly, he had no choice. It was his destiny to become a hipster.

Soon the hipsters were joined by young businessmen in ties and expensive shoes, toting with them even more expensive women. The contest here was an interesting one, with each expensive woman trying to simultaneously show as much leg and as much cleavage as possible. Contrary to the hipsters, however, the expensive women hid their calves in giant, oddly fluffy boots.

Eventually, Evan’s co-workers arrived. These are all people I dearly love, and who I enjoy immensely. They are neither hipsters nor expensive shoe and tie-wearing young businessmen, though I don’t know if I’d call them exactly normal, either, which, coming from me, is a compliment. As we chatted in The Living Room, standing on the hard, distressed concrete floor, I watched the cocktail waitresses with pity. They were required to wear skintight black dresses, show much cleavage, and wear very high-heeled boots. I became concerned for these young ladies’ joints. “Sweetheart,” I wanted to say, “don’t you know what you’re doing to your knees?” I actually thought this, and in thinking it, became aware that I am now, officially, old.

The next morning I waited for the DING of the elevator. “Good Morning,” said the mat. Down in the lobby (UN-siss UN-siss UN-siss) I found another herd of hipsters cavorting in their natural habitat. I decided to text Axel. Here is an exact transcript:

Hipster

Representative hipster. Note the sleek calf endemic to this species.

ME: Dude, I am in ATL @ the W Hotel & I have found your people. There are Axels everywhere.

AXEL: I like the W Hotels.

ME: No kidding.

AXEL: I love the elevator mats.

ME: Here I thought you were unique, one of a kind, but there are millions of you, all here in Atlanta at the W Hotel.

AXEL: Disappointing, isn’t it?

After my text talk with Axel I took the complimentary car to the mall. The driver was the most wonderful man. He tried to make me sit in the back and I was like, “Can I sit up front with you? I can’t handle the backseat thing.” He laughed, and opened the front seat door for me. African-American, he had striking slate blue eyes, a genuinely happy smile, and plenty of time. He showed me around and we chatted about this and that.

As I was about to get out, his tone changed. “This is a drop off service only. You’ll have to take a cab back. Now, they’re gonna take one look at you, put the meter on, purposefully get stuck in traffic, and take you for all your worth. You tell them you want the flat rate to Midtown.”

Alarmed, I took in everything he said, grateful for the advice, but also wondering, “When did I become this uncool? Since when do people feel they need to give me advice on taking a cab? Am I wearing a sweatshirt with bumblebees on it?”

While at the mall, I watched The Fighter with Mark Wahlberg. HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT. I love boxing anyway, always wanted to be a fighter myself, and the movie, on top of the guy’s advice, got my blood up. After the movie, I picked up two accessories for Evan’s (female) co-worker at Express. I got two because a placard said Buy 1, Get 1 Free. The woman rang it up as buy 1, get 50% off on the second. I called her out on it, she started to fight me, and I reached back, grabbed the placard, put it down on the counter and read it aloud, just in case she missed it, “Buy one, get one free.”

That victory behind me, I got a cab back. “I need the flat rate to Midtown!” I barked at the man. “Of course,” the cabbie said, confused. “I always do a flat rate to Midtown.”

By the time I arrived back at the W, (UN-siss UN-siss UN-siss) it had started to feel like home.

A Flower Conversation

Some dude's head. Not my dude's head, but, you know, a representative sample of a CT Scan.

This actually happened. About ten minutes ago, in fact.

SCENE – The kitchen of a small home. Husband is on the phone. Wife enters.

EVAN (hanging up phone): So! I don’t have head cancer!

ME: Oh, was that the doctor? Wait, you were worried you had head cancer?

EVAN: Well, you know.

ME: So, what did the CAT scan show? Is it a bone infection?

EVAN: No, it’s a deviated septum and severe sinus infection, with mild allergies.

ME: Really?! So, a deviated septum caused years of dental pain?

EVAN: Yeah.

ME: And all the headaches and your inability to sleep because of the pain? All of this from a deviated septum?

EVAN: And the extreme congestion.

ME: That part makes sense. But I had no idea a deviated septum could cause so much trouble for so long.

EVAN: Apparently, the doctor wants me to go to Ear, Nose and Throat guy, but, you know.

ME: What?

EVAN: You gotta watch doctors.

ME: ???

EVAN: With medical things, there are two paths. Serious and not.

ME: I don’t get what you’re saying.

EVAN: There’s cancer, and life threatening things, and then there’s the stuff not worth bothering with. There’s no grey area.

ME: Well, this strikes me as a grey area, your deviated septum. It’s not super serious, but it’s not insignificant, either.

EVAN: If it hasn’t caused a problem in 34 years, I don’t know why I need to worry about it.

THE END

10 Pre-Resolutions at the Rejectionist’s Behest

This is a weird year for resolutions for me. I’m actually doing mostly what I want to be doing, so it’s really more a matter of keepin’ on keepin’ on. So – things I want to keep doing, plus a couple I’d like to add on:

1.) Continue the running. I’d gotten severely out of the habit, instead sticking to comfy confines of the gym/weightlifting. It’s nice that Evan and I are running together now. Good bonding time.

2.) Continue the gyming. I want to get my leg press up to something pretty rad by the end of the year. Definitely 600 lbs. but I think I might hit that relatively soon. Will revise to 700 if needed.

3.) Continue Operation: Woo Indie Bookstores. They don’t know I’m a writer yet. I just make this giant circuit, buying books from each store every couple of weeks or so. Once I am ensconced within their consciousness as an awesome customer I’ll be all, oh, I’m a writer, and then one day I’ll be like, and guess what? I totally have a book coming out, LET’S THROW ME A PARTY.

4.) Continue to improve web presence. Must overhaul Fanfreakingtastic. Must overhaul Truth Be Told site. Must create writerly website. Must force friends to subscribe in vast numbers. And by force I mean invite politely – no, wait, I really mean force.

5.) Continue learning. A.) about the craft and B.) about the business.

6.) Continue Operation: Karma. Example of Operation: Karma – on Friday I am going to a local author’s book signing.

And onto the new!

7.) Get back in the pool. Somewhere along the way swimming went out the window with the running. I miss the pool. I need to make time for it.

8.) Begin Operation: Woo Librarians. What with Operation: Woo Indie Bookstores I haven’t been to the library much. And by much I mean I’ve been there once, to get a library card. That I’ve never used. But I do have it in my wallet. If that counts for anything.

9.) I NEED TO LEARN HOW TO DO MY DAMN HAIR. I CAN’T CARRY ELIZABETH AROUND WITH ME, AFTER ALL. Although she is rather small. Conceivably it’d be easier to carry Elizabeth around with me than to learn how to make it do something OTHER THAN JUST LIE THERE, STICK STRAIGHT HIPPIE STYLE. UGH. 

10.) Once I’m done with my next major revision I want to go on a for real vacation.

The Feminine Ideal

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It recently occurred to me that, from an early age, I had a definite notion of the feminine ideal, and developed strong attachments to those women who epitomized it. I thought I’d take a walk back through memory lane and introduce all y’all to the three women who shaped my ideas. 
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The Prototype

1.) Wonder Woman (1975-1979). Lynda Carter played the role of Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, on the small screen from the year prior to my birth until I was age three. I lived for episodes of Wonder Woman. I’d don my wonderoos, spin, and carry around a makeshift lasso of truth. Whenever my father would wrestle with my sisters I’d run upstairs to put on my wonderoos, and run back down to pile on, convinced I was invincible.  

Once, at a swim lesson, I found myself splashed most obnoxiously by the kid next to me. I remember thinking, What would Wonder Woman do? And I did this:  

The best possible splash defense.

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 My mom, watching from the bleachers, laughed. (She knew exactly what I was doing when I did it, and why.) I didn’t think it was funny. Being Wonder Woman was serious business. Besides, it worked, as I knew it would. I had a lot of faith in the power of Wonder Woman. Those bracelets deflect not only bullets, but also highly chlorinated water. 

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The Paradigm

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2.) V (1983-1985, 2010-11) (IMPORTANT UPDATE: Jane Badler will be reprising her role as Diana in the new V!  So exciting!) Badler played a huge role throughout my formative years. As it turned out, the important thing to me wasn’t that my Amazon role model be a hero, but rather that she be brunette, have big hair and the name Diana. Even more importantly, she had to be tough, smart, and powerful. Although V scared the ever living crap out of me as a kid, I was so devoted to the character of Diana that I helped found a recess game called V, wherein aliens and the human rebels attacked each other. I, of course, played the role of Diana. This game had a tremendous number of participants, and to this day I consider its creation one of my greatest triumphs. Later on in the TV series, the character of Diana was stripped of her power. Diana’s second-in-command, Lydia, played in real life by June Chadwick and on the playground by my friend Amanda, was elevated to commander. I am ashamed to admit I then tried to convince Amanda to switch characters with me. She could be Diana and I’d be Lydia. I’d be playing a blonde woman, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make for power.  Amanda wasn’t buying it. I remained Diana, frustrated by the loss of my rightful place at the helm of the alien empire.  

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The Alpha and the Omega

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3.) Ghostbusters (1984) Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett. Yes, Dana is missing an i, but you can’t be THAT picky. She remains tall, brunette, tough, smart, strong, and boasts big hair. The important pieces are there. The character of Dana Barrett settled into me in a different way than either of the comic Dianas. While no one would argue that Ghostbusters is realism, it is more grounded than either V or Wonder Woman, even with Slimer. Certainly, the character of Dana Barrett feels like a real woman. If Ghostbusters had gone the cheap way out and offered up a flimsy, hot, dumb love interest for Bill Murray it would have lost much of its smarts and substance. It was a genius stroke to cast Sigourney Weaver in the role. As it so happens, Dana Barrett’s wardrobe is also one of the first times I’ve ever been cognizant of clothes in a film, which is why I picked the above photo, and not one of her in the metallic orange dress. You can find a billion pics of her in the metallic orange dress, but only a handful of her in one of the understated outfits she wears throughout the rest of the film. I loved her clothes. As it turns out, I am not the only one. I actually found a blog post about it. Check out Clothes on Film for an in depth discussion of the matter. (They choose her cape coat to analyze. I’m more partial to her wrap in the cello-carrying scene.) 

Now, there is a reason why the above three women registered with me. However, this post is already really long, so I will make this a two parter and leave the explanation for next time.