A few weeks ago, I was at the beach, soaking up the sun, loving life when a spider bit me on the leg. I didn’t see it bite me, but I knew. It swelled up and looked like a blistery burn. I’m a big believer that the sun and ocean heals all so I tried to angle my leg so the sun would fire its rays directly into the wound. A few days later it looked sort of like a little bubble so I laid in the pool with my leg up in the air. I soon realized my sun therapy wasn’t working, so I poked the little bubble with a pin. I don’t recommend this.
You can't see Lyle, can you? Well, rest assured it's not because he was made into a handbag. Hold on though, I'm working on it.
So far it's overwhelmingly number three and we're pretty much at the finish line, but I'm still interested in those of you who liked number two, because I have a little surprise.
I mean, who would go out and buy an ugly book just because someone recommended it?
Which brings me to "She's Got Issues," which is soon to be back in print, with a whole new look, thanks to the Author's Guild, Alex Davis (book cover designer xo) and Kevin Robinson (photographer xo) and a very cute model xoxox. But here's the thing, Alex gave me a bunch of covers to choose from and I want all of them. Turns out you can only have one, which is so unfair.
But that's why I'm leaving it up to you. I really can't choose. Below are the three finalists. The cover that gets the most votes will be the one! And the first 50 people to respond will get a free autographed copy just for voting.
How's that for a reason to kick up your heels?
(click on a cover to see a larger version)
|Cover 1||Cover 2||Cover 3|
I have this little vein on my thigh and all I can do is
stare at it and try to imagine where it came from. All those years my family thought I was
upstairs in my office writing, I was actually just sitting in my chair thinking
about my vein.
So I finally decided to go to a doctor.
“Yes, hello? This is
Stephanie Lessing and I’d like to make an appointment to have a little vein
“Where is the vein located?”
“On my right thigh. It’s very tiny. Like an inch long but it takes up most of my
“Okay, and is there anything else you’d like the doctor to
take care of?”
Well, I could use a
face lift. . .and a whole new set of breasts that stand still might be fun.
“Just a couple of freckles,” I said, hating myself for not
asking for things that would actually make a difference in my life.
“Absolutely, we do freckles all the time!”
So I made the appointment and got there a half hour early.
Unfortunately I’d forgotten my wallet so I asked the receptionist if I could
call my husband with my insurance and credit card information, or if she’d
rather I go home and get some form of payment and identification.
She looked me up and down. I could tell she was thinking I
looked like everyone else who walked in there and that I probably wasn’t going
to try to steal the freckle removal procedure.
I waited about ten minutes and then a young, pretty girl
called me into the office.
I knew she wasn’t the doctor but she was sort of touching
all the machines in the office like she was planning to use them on me. She
asked me a bunch of questions about my skin.
Does it burn? Am I allergic to anything?
Do I have regular full body checks ?
“No, no and yes,” I lied.
“Wait, are you going to remove my vein?” I asked her,
wondering why she cared so much about me.
“No, I’m just the laser technician. I’m going to remove your
“OH! Right! My
freckle. But what about my vein?”
“The doctor will see you after I’m done. So which freckle did you want to remove?”
For those of you who don’t know me, I have at least ten,
maybe twenty, billion freckles on my body.
“This one!” I said, pointing to a particularly dark one on
my shoulder. “And this one!” I said
pointing to an old favorite on my knee.
“Oh and this one on my cheek. Or
you could do the one next to it. I guess
any of them would be fine. You pick.”
“Well, there must have been one in particular that bothered
you when you made the appointment.”
“Actually I just pulled the world freckle out of a hat. You can take them all off for all I
care. I don’t need any of them.”
“Well, how about if I laser your whole face and then
you can just point to the ones you don’t
like on your body and I’ll laser them
“Seriously, my whole face?”
“I do it all the time. It will even out your complexion.”
“I guess that would be good.
An even complexion.”
“I’m just going to put this gel on your face and we can get
“Is it going to hurt?”
“A little. Like a pinch. And a very bright light.”
“Okay, I guess that’s fine.”
After she did my entire face, I couldn’t help noticing that
it was on fire. I asked for a little ice
pack or something and she handed me one, but I could tell she thought I was
“The stinging only lasts a few minutes on the face, so….”
I handed her back the ice pack and said I was fine, but the
truth was I was afraid my face was actually missing.
“Can I have a mirror?” I asked.
“Sure! You see all
those darker areas?”
“Well that’s what happens when you get a great result. Your freckles turn dark and then they fall
“Like in my hand or my lap or what?”
“No, they slough off.”
“So I don’t have to worry about them suddenly dropping to
the floor or anything?”
“Nope, they sort of just flake away.”
The hotness was starting to subside and I was beginning to
love the idea that I could live a freckle free life.
“Well in that case, let’s do my legs, shoulders, chest and
“Okay,” she said, as though I suggested we split a soda.
And then she started with my legs.
For some reason, the legs hurt way more than the face.
And then I stood up and she did my shoulders. And then I lay
down and she did my chest. The heat was
flaring up everywhere but it was so confusing, I couldn’t tell what part of my
body hurt more.
“I think we need to stop,” I finally said.
“Are you sure? You
only signed up for six sessions. The more we do today, the less we have to do
“Six sessions? I’ll
be cremated after six sessions. When did I sign up for six sessions?”
“It’s a package price. Does your face still hurt?”
“Well, then, trust me, the rest of the pain will subside
too. The doctor will see you now.”
I was switching feet the whole time I was talking to him and
telling him I didn’t feel very well and that I thought perhaps we’d overdone
the laser just a tad and that I might be better off coming back another day to
look at my vein because I need to lie down somewhere immediately.
“No, you’re fine. Let
me see your vein.”
parts of my body with one of his brochures, and said, “It’s this one.”
sight of my tiny vein while my entire body was slowly being taken over by
gigantic purple welts—except the sound of his voice saying,
Lee’s number. He’ll see you. But there’s a three month wait.”
I didn’t have any money and the pain was by now excruciating.
call my husband to get my insurance information.
“Call information,” I said. “His name is Dan. I can’t talk
anymore. I have to go.”
in the car and did the tricky bra removal under the shirt trick, turned the a/c
on full blast and called Dan.
I’m severely burned and I can’t drive.”
“It’s a long story but you have to help me. I lasered my whole body and now I’m freezing
and burning up and I think I might die.”
It’s just the receptionist of the doctor who tried to kill me.”
spoke to the doctor who explained that I was probably just panicking, but that the pain will be
gone in a few hours. He gave him a
prescription for me for Zanax and Pergoset.
the medication and a bottle of water. As
soon as I put the pill in my mouth I felt better. Either that or seeing my husband made me feel
better. But it was definitely one of the
two. I pulled my shirt to the side to
see my shoulder. My skin was completely
raw with brown stripes everywhere.
“I feel better, “ I said.
“Why did you do this to yourself?” he asked me, trying not to look at my shoulder.
thing led to another and I suddenly could no longer live with my freckles for
would never!! This was hell.”
seen before. Somehow she missed it. I can’t imagine how she didn’t see it. It’s right next to the one she did on my
knee. I slip out of bed and find a red
magic marker and circle it.
standing on line at the Whole Foods prepared foods counter asking for one faux
chicken breast when the man standing next to me asks me, “Have you had those
“Yes,” I answer.
they?” he asks.
“Good,” I answer. I would have said more but I already don’t
“I guess you’re the only one in your family who likes them,” he says, “Seeing
as how you’re only buying one.”
“My husband is out of town and my son is
eating out with his friends tonight,” I answer.
I want to punch myself for giving him so much information, but I knew
he would have squeezed it out of me sooner or later anyway. I always end up
telling everyone everything.
He smiles as
though he thinks I’m lying, which makes me even madder at myself because now I
know I’m going to continue talking.
But I don’t
start spewing right away.
I wait until
I’m sure he’s following me all around the store.
Just as I’m
taking some Organic Homestyle Tortillas out of the freezer case, he asks me, “You
think those are really organic?”
“I do, yes,” I say. “I don’t think they
can write organic unless it’s actually organic.”
“Organic what though? They’re tortillas.”
“I guess the flour is organic,” I say. “I’m
the only one in my family who really cares about that sort of thing. There are four people in my family. Altogether.
I also have a daughter. She’s in college. And we have a dog. Yellow Lab.
She’s on a raw diet. “
minutes later, he’s at the checkout line with me and I’m very tempted to switch
lines, even though it’s almost my turn.
The more questions he asks me, the more I think he thinks I made up my
whole family and the more I defend myself, the more I hate him. I keep looking all around me as though I find
everything in the store fascinating.
Every FEED bag, every magazine, everything and anything but him. It’s almost like I’m seeing for the first
time, that’s how much my head is moving.
place is expensive,” he says, looking at a container of nuts that I’m
I want to
tell him that it’s wrong to talk to strangers and that no one likes it, but
instead, I sneeze, pee in my pants, and then drop everything I’m holding.
I can’t even
bend down to pick anything up because I’m wearing thin, cotton, drawstring
shorts that show everything. And I’ve
peed quite a bit.
I don’t know
what to do so I sort of turn my back to the checkout counter and slide down to
pick everything up, but of course he bends down with me and there we are, face
to face, him delighted that we’re forced to continue our relationship and me
mortified that this horribly annoying person, whom I detest, will judge me for
having just peed in my pants out of the blue.
“I can pick up everything myself,” I say.
problem,” he says.
I say, a little firmer.
He puts his
hands up and backs away as I fling everything back on the counter facing
sideways. I manage to check out without turning around and try to tuck my hips
under as I glide toward the door at an astonishing pace.
As soon as I
reach the door it starts pouring, and once again I thank Helen Todd for forcing
me to believe in Jesus Christ. Clearly,
he’s watching over me. If I can get
myself outside, without anyone seeing what I’ve done, I can just stand out
there for a few seconds until I’m totally soaked and the whole thing will just
blend in. I walk in front of my cart
pulling it behind me and rush out into the rain, which, of course, stops almost
immediately. So I sit down on a soaking
wet bench and say, out loud to no one, “Oh, God, I sat on this wet bench!”
As I’m running
to my car, I pee a tiny bit more (one day you’ll understand) and then take a
beach towel from the trunk of my car and sit down on it. As I’m pulling out of my spot, the man I hate
walks by. He doesn’t acknowledge me or anything. He just walks on looking straight ahead. At first I don’t think he sees me, but then I
realize he definitely looked right in my window. He’s just acting like he doesn’t see me.
just like that, I don’t hate him anymore.
I like him. I think it’s because he
knows what I did, but he’s purposely ignoring me so I won’t feel ashamed. He’s
a good, good man and I never should have treated him the way I did. After all, the only thing he was looking for
was some pleasant food shopping conversation, a food buddy, if you will. And I
treated him like a bum. And then, when I
was down on my luck, he had the decency to walk by my car without laughing, or
pointing, or calling me a baby, or anything.
realized how different the world is once you’ve peed in your shorts. It’s a very humbling experience. Of course I wouldn't want to do it everyday, but perhaps every time I leave the house I should
imagine that my whole entire ass is showing or something. I think I’d come
across as a much friendlier person.
I wasn't going to write anything until my make-believe trip around the world was offically over (I'm thinking sometime in September) but I'm in the midst of reading, "How It Ended," by Jay McInerney.
I'm on page 216 knowing I only have 115 pages left. I've already read the note on the author and the note on the type -five or six times -to stop myself from finishing the book.
I'm so afraid for it to end, I've been dragging it around the house like an old doll. I keep imagining the moment when there's nothing but that one blank page left for me to stare at. And then I quickly run my fingers over the remaining fat 115. Thank heaven. And while I hover there, three quarters of the way through this masterpiece, I am a genius who sees the world from the inside out. I'm a virtual master of the human condition. A lucid, calculating, hardened orchestrator. I'm able to manipulate my tiny characters, dress them and undress them, exposing their spoiled egos, until there's nothing at all left to the imagination. I can even rearrange them on the page, making them appear and reappear at a moment's notice until my audience is so pliable I can almost taste their longing to be released from my skillful grip. And yet I can also smell the fear that I'll abandon them, sending them back to the deafening, blinding abyss that is their real life.
And then I remember that I didn't actually write the book, I'm only reading it.
See you in September.
Okay, fine, I'm not really going anywhere.
So Kim invited me to this thing at Sarabeth's for her
sorority, and by thing I mean mother/daughter tea. A lot of people don't
know this but Kim and I can't sit next to each other at a table. Not only do we
look alike, but we have the exact same personality and the same nervous energy
level, which is not suitable for side-by-side table sitting. If there are
any gaps in the conversation, Kim and I both swoop in to rescue the silence at crashing
speeds. At all times, our heads and feet are moving, our hands are flailing and
anything that's within a few inches of us is spilling. We're a dangerous
couple in almost any social setting; a mother/daughter tea is flat out asking
Within two or three minutes after we sat down at the tea
table, I looked over at my daughter and it was almost like she was sitting on a
little trampoline. I wanted to tell her to stop moving but I was spinning
like a top in my own chair and having great difficulty managing my four flower
juice. We both should have ordered a soothing cup of tea, but there was no time so we both just kept drinking
the juice as fast as the waiter could pour it. Between the two of us I'd say we had seven or eight
glasses. The mother and daughter sitting across from us were perfectly
relaxed, lovely people. You'd think that would calm Kim and me down, but
no, we just kept talking frenetically and trying not to bump heads. At
one point it occurred to both of us that we were talking so fast we'd almost
stopped breathing completely. We turned to one another with puffed up cheeks
and let out a huge gust of air.
"This is exhausting," I whispered to Kim.
"I know!" she said, looking at the time on her phone.
"How much longer?" I asked.
"One more hour," she said, "What should we do?"
"Just keep talking!" I said.
She nodded and off we went, chattering a mile a minute.
It wasn't just our own incessant babbling that had us so flustered. It was the
fact that we were both so incredibly hungry. Neither of us had eaten
anything knowing we were going to Sarabeth's. Kim is used to being
hungry. She can go the whole day without eating. I think she once went a
whole year without eating, but we can’t both be hungry at the same time in the
same room. Then the nervous energy turns
into something else. Something
All throughout our steady stream of funny little comments
and stories, we both periodically jerked our heads around in search of some edible tidbit that might be coming our way. I spotted a silver tray of delicate
little finger sandwiches on a table over by the garden window and kicked my
daughter under the table. I imagined the two of us, for one blissful
moment, standing in front of the table, eating fifty or sixty of them, but no
one else was going anywhere near them, so we had to pretend they weren’t there.
As we later found out, the mothers and daughters were supposed to have gathered
by the window to enjoy the sandwiches while mingling, and then sit down for
dessert. But that didn’t happen. Since the organizer of the tea wasn’t there,
everyone just walked in and sat down instead.
There were little cookies at each of our place settings, but we were all
afraid to eat them because we assumed they were for later.
a waiter came over to the table with the tray of sandwiches and we both tried
not to clap. But then we of course realized that we could only take one. I daintily
lifted a little triangle off the tray and stared at it. The longer I looked at
it, the more it shrank and the more I felt my personality disintegrating.
“I can’t be friendly anymore. I’m too ravenous,” I whispered to Kim.
know. I’m this close to calling that woman with the fur collar an asshole,” she
have to eat another one of those sandwiches!” I cried.
“Me too! When he comes around again,
we’re both taking two, no matter what,” she commanded.
And then the waiter came by with the sandwiches for round two. He held the tray out in front of both of us
and we both looked at him and said,
he walked away we both looked at each other.
just happened?” she said.
panicked!! That’s what happened!”
told you to take two!” she said.
know. But I choked,” I whisper yelled,
and then turned to the mother in front of me and smiled.
tried to continue juggling several conversations with the other mothers and
daughters, although it was obvious we were really pushing ourselves by that
point. Kim was hardly jumping up and
down at all anymore and I think I was facing the other way.
And then it happened.
The cupcakes appeared.
Perched, as they were, atop a three tiered cake plate like a glittering
pyramid of fat, blushing ballerinas. I felt my eyelashes batting and pressed two fingers to my forehead. I typically can’t act normal in front
of cupcakes. If there are sprinkles involved, I have
to talk about them the whole time. But these cupcakes, they were
I was desperately
trying not to openly admire them, but it was like trying not to pick up a
puppy. The problem was I did a quick count and there definitely weren't enough
to go around.
I looked over at Kim, who sensed I was hyperventilating.
"Don't cry. They're only cupcakes," she said.
"I know, but did you count them?" I asked.
"Of course I did. That's why I said, 'don't cry.'"
"What should we do?" I begged her.
"Just wait a few minutes," she said and slipped her hand into mine
under the table to try to calm me down.
Finally I saw a girl at the other end of the table take a cupcake and
put it on her little plate. I nudged Kim in the ribs.
"That girl took one!" I said.
"I know. I saw," she answered, patting my hand again.
"What if I take one and cut it in fours and put it the middle of the
table?" I whispered.
"Good thinking," she answered under her breath.
So I nonchalantly slid a cupcake off the tray and quickly put it in the middle
of the table as though it wasn’t the single greatest moment of my life.
And then I took my knife and cut it into four perfect pieces. You had to
see this cupcake to understand why my hand was shaking.
"Dig in, everyone," I said, sliding a quarter of the cupcake onto
Kim's plate and another quarter onto my own plate. My daughter smiled at me and
we both took a bite. I let the sweet, buttery pink fluff fill my entire mouth
and I kept it there for a really long time.
“You should swallow,” Kim said.
make me,” I mumbled.
Just then someone asked the mother sitting across from me where she went to
"Harvard," she answered, as I swept my finger across my lips to get
the left over icing.
"Rea wee?" I said. "That's a good school."
"I mean it, Mom. You have to let it
go," Kim whispered calmly.
"It won’t go down,” I lied, my cheeks smiling.
"But you're talking and eating at the same time."
"Sowwy," I said, and politely wiped the corner of my lips with my
There were fifteen
minutes left by that point, and since I’d gotten what I needed, I was able to
savor every one of them. I let myself sit back and listen to Kim talk. I couldn’t help admiring her. The way she made everyone around her feel so
comfortable, while making sure I was taken care of the whole time. I realized
she turned out to be everything I could have ever dreamed of in a daughter.
Smart, funny, polite, and more real than anyone I’ve ever known. In
the end we met some more of the mothers, talked some more, and then some more,
had our picture taken (which you can see on Facebook), and then, before we knew
it, Dan was waiting for us outside with the car.
"How was it?" he asked, as soon as we drove away. We both turned to
look at each other and said,
"Pretty good, because we had each other,"
… at the exact same time.