Yes dear reader, I’m milking the beard thing for it’s worth, while awaiting Servetus’s final beard posts. Then I’ll be forced to be thoughtful and erudite. Until that time, on with the shallow!
I based yesterday’s post on a realization learned many years ago in another fandom. This story isn’t part of the “Why RA?” series, per se, but it does involve Mr. Crush #2. Way before Mr. Crush’s fan club imploded, he was our British darling, “the thinking woman’s crumpet.” In his heyday, he possessed an ethereal beauty much more feminine than RA’s. (While still a handsome man, that beauty faded with loss of youth). Needless to say, the club appreciated his outer gifts. A member sacrificed hours to compile a “Best of” video (told you this was long ago) from Mr. Crush’s work to show at an open-door fan club party during a big convention. The video contained a bathroom scene in which his character reclined in a big claw-footed tub. The scene focused on him quietly shaving and gazing into a small hand held mirror.
The video played in a loop as background noise during the party. However, when that scene appeared, all the females in the room fell silent and watched each stroke of the blade, spellbound. Truly, the slow action of his hand was almost hypnotic and terribly sexy. A lone male peeked in and saw all eyes glued on the screen. He stood in the back, baffled at all the “ohhhs” and “ahhs.”
“What’s going on?,” he asked.
We explained the video and that this was our favorite scene.
His eyes widened in amazement as various fangirls remarked how sexy and a turn-on it was.
His face lit up like he’d just been imparted a carefully guarded female secret.
“Didn’t know that did you,” somebody smirked.
“Hey, looks like I need to find my girlfriend and shave!,” he grinned, and then darted out.
I’ve regarded a man shaving as quite sensuous, ever since that time. I’d open the bathroom door while my ex shaved so I could watch. He’d laugh, part self-consciously and part lasciviously. He certainly didn’t object.
So, when I think of RA shaving his beard, well, can you blame me?
The murmur of voices in the hall rose and fell Technicians adjusted the sound and lighting. Suddenly the lights dimmed and a spotlight suddenly lit a barber chair on the raised platform. A small table stood nearby, covered by a white cloth. Two twin, giant television monitors flanking each side of the stage broadcast the image. A tense hush fell. Was this really going to happen?
From stage left appeared the woman wearing a little black dress covered by a serviceable white apron, and flat black sandals. Her heart leaped at the sight of the table. She whipped away the cloth, revealing a line of shaving accouterments. Her fingers slowly brushed the mug, brush, mirror, scissors and bottles before resting on the straight edge razor, her grandfather’s. She flicked it open lovingly, letting the light play on the sharp blade, then finally snapped it shut. Nodding approvingly, she turned to the audience, a wicked smile creasing her face. It was the moment of truth. All her preparation had come to fruition.
“Well, I think we’re ready,” she said. “Are you?”
The crowd cheered their readiness, almost hanging on the edge of their seats. Necks craned to see if he stood in the wings.
The woman took her place behind the chair. “Let’s have our charity volunteer!”
From stage right entered a tall man dressed in a black shirt and jeans. His blue eyes twinkled as he bounded up the platform and grinned sheepishly at the audience. While the crowd jumped to its feet, hooting and cheering, the man scratched his beard and regarded with the woman with comical wariness before taking the seat of honor.
The woman glanced at the audience. “As we women know, watching a man shave or shaving him yourself, can be quite the sensuous experience. We are grateful to our volunteer who has agreed to share this experience for a worthy cause. The number of tickets sold for this event has been unprecedented!”
The crowded cheered again and the man leaned back. A hush fell once more.
The man’s head lifted slightly from the headrest. “Erm, I don’t owe you money or anything, do I?”
The woman placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “It’s going to be fabulous.”
He leaned back, finally casting his eyes on the ceiling.
The woman regarded his chiseled features for a moment, the noble brow, long nose, raised cheekbones, the long line of throat, with the rest covered by gray streaked brown pelt. A rush of adrenaline shot through her. The beard would soon be history!
She sprang to work, snipping off the excess, softening the beard with a moist hot towel, then lathering. A flick of a wrist and the razor glinted in the light. His eyes widened before snapping shut. She paused before gliding the razor slowly down a cheek. Smooth skin replaced the lather and whiskers. Ahhhh. She wiped the razor on a towel. Can’t go back now.
Another stroke revealed more cheek. Her deft hand found a rhythm as the blade turned and curved over the planes of the man’s face. She focused totally, not hearing the sighs from the audience.
Sideburns emerged. Yeaaaah.
A bow mouth came into view. Ohhhhh.
The ridge of a jawline. Mmmmm.
The curving roundness of chin. Yes.
The long clean expanse of throat. YES.
Finishing the final stroke, she wiped away little blots of shaving cream and patted on aftershave. YES, OH YES!!!!! She stood back, almost breathless, a bit of perspiration beading on her forehead. Her heart pounded.
The razor snicked shut.
The crowd roared. He stood, running his hand over his jaw and staring at her in amazement. “That was er —!”
She could only smile. Oh yeah, that was er —. Heheheh.
Every time I go out of town, there’s finally some news of RA. Seriously.
This year he didn’t disappoint. I fled town for the first time this year for a cabin in wilds of Ohio again with no wi-fi and no businesses who thought to turn on their allegedly free access. Data roaming on my smartphone feels like pulling teeth, the connection is so tenuous. So of course, there’s RA news and pictures and the beardy horde swooning over what I couldn’t see. Ironically, I had no problems downloading text, just not the photos.
” There’s so much gray in his beard, but he looks so dashing!” one squeed. Riiight.
“Ugh, there are new pics of RA and he still has that damn beard,” I told my friend.
“Well, find the pics and show me,” she replied. She’s not part of the beardy horde, clearly a discerning woman.
I grunted over the phone and finally, it spat something out of the ether. I glanced at the photo – yup beard- then thrust the phone at my friend. “Pretty,” she cooed. What???
I looked again. Oh my.
I refuse to comment on the grounds I might incriminate myself.
WELL. He’s simply a disgustingly attractive man. Makes me sick. That’s all I have to say. *Cough.* Moving swiftly along…
Sooo, about that last post. People seem to think that it’s the beginning of a new story. That wasn’t my intention since I have another idea in the works. However, I could extend the fantasy if you like. So, watch this space for return of the trio. Soon Quiet One’s name will be revealed, although I suspect you know who she is already.
I rise slowly from the buff arms of Morpheus in faint regret. He smells so springtime fresh. Who knew? Pulling the pillow closer, I try to catch a few more winks but it’s no use. My eyes open and scan the bedding. Snowy white pillow. Snowy white soft duvet flowing to mahogany posts – wait, snowy white linen? I can hardly get my laundry done once a month. This isn’t my room. I sit bolt upright.
Jada, my superego, sitting on one side of the bed, sighs. Jodi, my id, adjusts her flowing skirt. Quiet One, my ego, stares apparently engrossed with something outside the bay windows. Something leafy green rushes past.
Jodi grins widely. “You really do like to nap, don’t you.”
I groan. “Ohh, not you again.”
Jada fiddles with her matched cream two-piece sweater set. “You know you’re supposed to meditate instead of nap. It’s not good to throw off the schedule.”
I open my mouth to ask what schedule but stare harder at Jada. She still looks prim, only expensively so. Two strands of pearls, gray Anne Klein skirt – I peer over the bed’s edge – yup, Ferragamo pumps. Jodi wears a vividly orange retro ’50s couture number paired with some strappy gold Jimmy Choos. A flowing intricately painted silk kimono wraps Quiet One. Whoa. My psyche has come up in the world. Another leafy green blur rushes past the window.
I eye the baby blue patterned wallpaper and tastefully coordinated rug and drapes. “Er, where the hell am I?”
Jodi sighs impatiently. “You’re in your own bedroom, in your own flat of course, just like yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.”
Jada frowns, concerned. “Oh dear. You really should have adjusted by now. Maybe you should ring Dr. G.?”
Quiet One speaks up. “Don’t worry. She’s always disoriented when she first wakes. After she pets Patty, she’ll remember.” There’s a happy yap and the red pomeranian jumps onto the bed and into my lap. Good grief, she’s groomed too.
I gape at the suddenly chatty Quiet One. She turns her head slightly towards me, a faint smile on her lips. Instead of hanging back in the shadows, she’s lit by the afternoon sun. There’s a curious look of expectation in her eyes. This is new. Patty nudges me for attention and I pet her.
Jada adds a prompt. “You’re in London. Remember?”
London? Panic suddenly rises. I’m in London and don’t remember? Frantically, I glance around for the only culprit, Winston.
Jada pats my hand. “Just take a deep breath, luv.” Both Jada and Jodi look to Quiet One.
A corner of Quiet One’s mouth curves up. “Winston is gone.”
They all nod. Patty chuffs affirmatively.
I try to unscramble my thoughts. Winston is gone. Yes, Winston is gone and everything changed. I joined life, socialized, exercised, found hobbies, started to write –.
Jodi pats her upswept French twist. “You’re in London researching your second book, a murder mystery. You were frustrated about the plot so you took a nap.”
Jada chides. “Instead of meditating!”
Shock hits. A writer? I’m a writer and a successful one? I feel breathless. Could it be true? I’m distracted but another green blur falling past the window.
“What the hell is that?”
Quiet One’s face breaks into a beautiful smile that lights up her eyes. She looks content, self-assured. I’m enthralled. Do I really look like that?
“Come see. He’s been pulling ivy off his house all afternoon.”
I leap off the bed, nearly tripping on my red silk pajamas. Nice.
Looking over the fence, I spot a tall man toiling in the neighboring yard. Toned muscles ripple underneath a now grubby t-shirt and jeans as he pulls at the vines. He raises his dark head and I can see light eyes in a finely chiseled face. White teeth flash. He sees me looking and waves.
Oh. My. God.
Jodi and Jada peer over our shoulders.
Jada pokes me. “Wave back, dear. And close your mouth.”
Jodi smiles wryly. “Mmmmmhmmm. I’m so glad this place was a steal.”
I gawp at them, then laugh. “Okay, I have to be dreaming.” I wonder what I’d eaten before the nap so I can have it again.
Quiet One stares for a moment. She arches a brow. “You do you really want a pinch?”
The jubilant giddiness has been wearing off. My mind is still clear and free of Winston’s weight, pulling me down, always threatening to drag me under. This reprieve feels more permanent; the mental shift feels solidified, more tangible, as if a door has been literally thrown open in my mind, minus the fear of it slamming shut again.
The world is my oyster, as they say. Now I can get on with life.
Well, not exactly. I’m left with all the behaviors and defense mechanisms created to cope with Winston that protected my psyche against him, while enabling him to maintain paradoxically the reassuring presence I knew; the old friend I loved to hate. His bed is here; all his toys are still here, as it were. I still seen the after-image of his presence. I want to scoop up all his things and toss them out the door behind him, but something stops me. What feels the void Winston leaves behind? If I clean house of all traces of Winston, and stop the escapist napping, chronic procrastination, self-imposed isolation, and learned mindlessness, does a skill set I never had morph into its place?
What to do, I asked Dr. G. She replied that I have to take it slow and allow myself the time needed to transition to the New Judiang.
It sounds similar to being like recovering addicts. Only they have half-way houses and programs to ease them back into mainstream life. There are websites and videos galore dispensing information concerning Life After. But what do you do after depression? I googled and discovered precious few. On one depression forum, a poster asked that very question. One respondent asked the OP if s/he was mocking the forum because she didn’t understand the question. She couldn’t fathom the idea of Life After. I came away with the sense that depression forums primarily exist for the sufferers only. If you made it through to the other side, then don’t rub it in here. Not very helpful. While forums dedicated to survivors might be more empowering, a tiny lazy part of myself knew there was no quick start blueprint to follow.
So this is where I am. I’m in the process of reexamining everything about me and life, feeling my way, taking it one day at a time. I’m doing a total overhaul of my mental house. Things are in flux.
This has been a long-winded way of saying, Dear Reader, there will be blog changes too. I recently complained to a friend, “I didn’t know what to blog about”. That’s not an accurate statement. What I really meant was, “I don’t know what my blog is about anymore.” In my last post, I mentioned returning to regular programming, before realizing the programming has changed. To what, I don’t know. It’s questions, questions, questions. What is my place in RA fandom? Is there more for me to say? Will readers be interested if things change too much? Has the blog served its purpose?
So, this is where I am – in transition. Please excuse the dust.
Blame Didion. She started this on her website. I’ve been searching high and low for something truly surreal, and she gets it in one. Just *had* to Google this. It turns out to be inspired by artist Mariel Clayton. When she photographs Barbie and family, she envisions something a bit…er… different. (Click all the links in all the articles to see the catalog. Some aren’t even gory or kinky.)
This is so macabre and delightfully twisted, I just had to share. I’m having a great time dreaming up theories for the evil deeds.
…Er, almost. If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, please do so now. I’m mentally cracking knuckles, stretching fingers and ready to get back to the business of living. Only that trio Jada (my super ego) and Jodi (id) have been throwing a month long party in celebration. Even Quiet One appears on the brink of having a lot to say. How can I cut short the festivities? It’s a good feeling that’s long overdue.
Speaking of overdue, it’s high time to return to blogging. Posts may be sporadic as I slowly dip my toe back in the water, as it were. The goal is to rebuild mental resources and not overwhelm myself by jumping into the deep end, instead of slowing easing back in.
Ironically with my mind open to discuss everything in the world, I still have the blogger’s problem: What to Talk About? I even asked Jada, who’s never short on mayhem, how she felt about a certain actor’s appearance on Sir Peter’s recent vlog. When she replied, “who?,” I thought it best not to go there. Yet.
So, while I dredge up less… controversial… things to say, enjoy a gander at recent said actor before he rids himself of that horrid hairy mask. It’s just a matter of time ladies! Sorry, hairy horde. Oops. Maybe too soon?
If you’ve been following my blog for the past year and a half, you’re aware that this blog has been interrupted by periods of silence. That is because behind the scenes I’ve been engaged in colossal, knock down, drag out fights with Winston, my black dog of depression. I’ve won skirmishes but each time, Winston kept returning to mess over everything. He would morph from a little pug to a hulking monster and I needed all my mental resources for the next round. Aside from a short reprieve last summer (remember London?) with a new medication (Cymbalta), we have been battling since February 2011. Things really started going downhill last Fall but I was determined to blog through it.
By Spring, there was no improvement in sight. The medication did not combat the most severe breakthrough symptoms, loss of concentration and extreme lethargy. I’d ceased to function in any meaningful way. I was absent from my job intermittently for about five months. They could not carry me indefinitely, and so they started making noises about either easing me onto to disability or out the door. As a single woman two-thirds to retirement, neither of these was an option for me. In addition, my brother uncharacteristically showered me with calls. My sister-in-law did the same. My close friends descended on me, cooking and cleaning. Friends emailed, texted, and called in support. I learned my family was discussing how to take care of me.
The point made it through my foggy brain that things were dire. Winston was eating me alive.
Panicked, I told Dr. G. that we needed skip from Plan C over some of the less appealing options (meds with horrible side effects) and go straight to Plan G, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). It works similar to the ECT treatment of old except without the shock or side effects. However, it would take time to get insurance approval. Dr. G. wondered if I had treatment-resistant depression because all of the new SSRI medications all had the same limited affect on me. These meds all increased serotonin and/or norepinephrine in the brain, two chemicals of the three chemicals responsible for mood. But what if she treated the brain fog with a psycho-stimulant that increased the third chemical, dopamine? So, she prescribed a small dose Ritalin. Yes, Ritalin, a popular drug given to kids with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I don’t have ADHD, I said, but hey, I was desperate.
Long story short, it felt like the difference between night and day, in a matter of hours. The breakthrough symptoms disappeared. Winston disappeared. I could focus, think, and function. I returned to work and have been fine for a month and counting. I feel even keel and a little better than neutral. In other words, I feel “normal.” How can this be? According to Google, Ritalin/Adderall/ dopamine derivatives given to people with ADHD, help them focus and slow down. Without ADHD, it increases focus and stimulates. So, psycho-stimulants in small doses like Ritalin and Adderall are emerging to augment anti-depressants. Could it be that after 20 years of experimenting with medication that we’ve finally discovered that my brain needs serotonin AND dopamine? I’m better due to an offhand throwaway idea? It’s almost too good to be true.
I haven’t seen Winston in a month. This isn’t a cure; the symptoms slowly return if I’m not diligent with medication because Ritalin doesn’t have a long half-life. I must accept that I’m like a diabetic with insulin, but that’s okay. I’m back to the way I was last summer. People have again remarked about the change in my personality. It’s all good.
Right now, I’m marshaling my mental resources and slowly reconnecting with life. Depression is truly a bitch. It steals your life, but I’m determined to get mine back. This post has been a bit long-winded but I’ve revealed all this in the hope that my story may help somebody out there. Don’t give up. The solution is out there.
I don’t know if I’ve won the war with Winston, but like another famous Winston, I shall never surrender.