Thursday, May 31, 2007

What's in a name?

I'm at that age when more and more of my friends are having kids. And some of the names a few of them have come up with have...well, sucked. At least they have in my opinion. But I'm also hyper-sensitive when it comes to what people name a child, for obvious reasons. On average, I recieve one comment every day about my name. It's mainly when I swipe my credit card at a store, as was the case yesterday at lunch.

Guy at the Counter: "Elizabeth Taylor?? That's not really your name is it?"
Me: "Yup."
Guy at the Counter: "Holy Sh*t! Hey Brad, we've got a celebrity here. Look, it's Elizabeth Taylor."
Brad: "Sweeeeeeet. Hey you got any Darvocet?"
Me: "Nope."
Brad: "Is that your friend Liza over there?"
Me: "No."
Guy at the Counter (to my friend): "Hey Liza, what do you want for lunch? Your friend Elizabeth Taylor here got a salad."
(Guys erupt in laughter at themsselves.)


When things like that happen, it makes me think of that old SNL skit with Nicholas Cage and Victoria Jackson. They're a couple trying to come up with baby names, and everything the wife suggests is shot down by the husband on the basis of what jokes people could make about the name in the future. Then, of course at the end of the sketch, you learn the reasons for his paranoia when the pizza man comes to the door with "a pizza for Asswipe."

"It's Ass-wee-pay!", the husband shouts angrily.

In defense of my parents, they nicknamed me "Libby" in an attempt to curb the Liz Taylor jokes. But they didn't think through the less obvious problem with the nickname they chose, as one of the most popular advertising jingles when I was born was for Libby's canned fruits and vegetables. So whenever I was introduced as Libby, people would break into song: "Ohhhhhhhh, Libby, Libby, Libby, on the label, label, label, you will like her, like her, like her, on your table, table, table!"

It was like life in a musical. Strangers breaking into song randomly all the time. But just as Cats would have sucked had its only song been "Memories", my musical sucked, as well. So I decided to weather the douchey comments and get back to basics - specifically, my real name.

Most of the time I can easily dismiss the questions ("Did your parents name you after the actress?", "That's not really your name, is it?", "Did your parents hate you?", "Were your parents on drugs?") with a simple explanation that I was named after my grandmother. She, too, was named Elizabeth Taylor. But the defenses pretty much fall apart when people find out my brother's name is James and stepmother is Ann. Doesn't matter that one's a family name, or that one came by way of marriage. Our family looks like celebrity freaks.

A hundred dollars says my future husband's last name is Claiborne.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

That's hot.

In the past month, I have woken up every morning at 3am. And it's totally hot.

No really, it's totally f'ing hot.

Apparently during the night I turn into a member of the Fantastic Four and set myself on fire. When I wake up at 3am, I'm absolutely burning up down to my core. I'm 28 years old, and refuse to believe this is some sort of premenopausal thing. If I'm young enough to get grossed out by the idea of childbirth, I'm too young to be going through menopause.

But what it is, I have no clue. All I know is I wake up burning up and can't get cool to save myself. It's worth noting, much to my roommate's chagrin, that I insist on keeping the temperature in our apartment so cold one could arguably hang meat in our living room. We had friends over last week, and damn near had to loan our guests parkas and snow boots just to keep them comfortable long enough to watch Andy choose Tessa. I've even closed off one of the vents in the living room in a selfish attempt to redirect the air into my room. It seems to have worked, as my vent produces quite the wind when the AC kicks in. So the temperature around me clearly isn't the problem.

Maybe it's genetics? To say that my mother has temperature control issues would be putting it mildly. Several years ago, we were in DC in January. I'll repeat that: We were in DC in January. And my mother insisted on sleeping with the windows open. "Libby, this is not a hot flash. It's a POWER SURGE!" she exclaimed defensively when I questioned our sleeping arrangement. So that night, I slept wearing two sets of sweats, a toboggan hat, mittens and socks.

Come morning, a shelf of snow had settled on the inside of the hotel room window and there was a layer of ice on the floor. The only acknowledgement of this insanity was when she woke up, with me chattering and blue beside her, and asked if we could please *chatter* close *chatter* the *chatter* window. "Hmmm," she considered, "I guess it is quite brisk in here." Brisk?!? Are you kidding me? There's frost on the FLOOR!

But I digress. She at least had an excuse in menopause. Again, I don't have such an excuse. And yet I've begun sleeping curled up with an ice pack, and have just until the ice has melted to sleep. Which ends up being at 3am.

I've explained my situation to a few people. Some have suggested it's stress-related. Others think it's hormones. But the only solution anyone seems to suggest is acupuncture. So, I guess it's either set myself on fire, or shove needles in my face.

I welcome any thoughts on this matter. In the meantime, I'm crawling into my rotisserie of a bed to sleep until 3am curled up with an ice pack.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Grey Gardens.

My mother and grandmother are here this weekend. Together, I've begun referring to them as "Grey Gardens". (Used in a sentence: Grey Gardens just got back from Costa Rica.) I named them after the famous documentary for a few reasons. Obviously, they're a mother/daughter duo. The daughter is in her fifties, the mother in her eighties. Mom is also a "junior" so to speak, and thus she and my grandmother are referred to as "Little Louise" and "Big Louise", respectively, not unlike the Bouviers.

One of the main reasons for their new moniker is they also live together with several animals between them. They don't live in the same house, but in what is more of a compound, as their houses back up to one another. My friend said it reminded her of something she'd seen in South America. A family house, the grandmother living in an adjacent dwelling, and animals everywhere. Only the menagerie at Grey Gardens' compound consists of numerous cats and dogs, not cows and goats. (Though at night you can still hear cows in nearby pastures.)

Not unlike the Bouviers, my mom and grandmother bicker and fight all the time. Breaking into random song is also not uncommon, nor is reflecting on the glamorous days of yore. You also get the sense when speaking to my mom that a quick trip in a time machine might prove the past wasn't quite as enchanted as she recalls. Some of her stories are about as likely as Little Edie having ever dated J. Paul Getty.

Thankfully, there are a couple of key differences between the Louises and the Edies. For starters, the Louises don't live in absolute squalor. They'll never be inspected by the health department, and they don't sleep with raccoons. (Though part of me is saddened by that, as I'd love to watch people's reactions to my grandmother explaining that she's sleeping with a "coon", as she calls them.) Neither Louise would ever wear a head covering, so as not to mess up her 'do, and I'm fairly certain my mother has never fashioned a skirt out of a shirt.

Yes, there are differences. But there are enough similarities to warrant both the nickname and perhaps even their own documentary.

Now, THERE's an idea.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

My face hurts.

When it comes to my face, for the most part I'm thankful for what I have. My eyes could be a little larger, my nose slightly less bulbous (have always found that word amusing); but overall, I think all the elements arrange themselves quite well. That said, I'm on a constant quest for self-improvement, and my face is certainly not spared in this mission.

As the name of this blog implies, in many ways I'm a dichotomy of two ideologies that are continually at odds. There's the part of me that actually gives a damn, and the part of me that doesn't. And of late, the biggest casualty of this battle seems to be my face. I'm staunchly against any sort of alteration to my physical appearance that comes by way of metal instruments - needles included. However, that's not to say I'm not vain. And like all people, time is bringing lines and discolorations along with great wisdom.

So naturally, I made a visit to the dermatologist. (Though it should be noted this trip was a marked improvement over the trip I submitted as my entry for The Big Blush.) I asked him if there was anything topical that could get rid of my sunspots as well my fine lines. "Tazorac," he said bluntly. And I was off...

It turns out however, that Tazorac basically eats off your face. And now I'm faced (ha) with the following quandary: the benefits of reduced sun spots and lines versus the fact my skin is coming off in SHEETS and my lips are four times their normal size. Can responsible vanity not come without a major sacrifice? I'm beginning to worry my attempts to turn back the clock will soon have me looking like an installation from the Body Worlds exhibit. And if that's the case, what's a little botulism between your eyes when the alternative is looking like skeleton.

I'm pretty sure that's the creepiest thing I've ever said.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I'm blushing. (Or is it hives?)

Several friends sent me a link to a contest the other day called "The Big Blush". It was a contest sponsored by Neutrogena and the only thing you had to do was enter an embarrassing story. Lucky for me, my life's embarrassing without even trying. I'm 6' tall, named Liz Taylor, and used to drive a hot dog.

Anyway, I decided to enter a story about a trip to the dermatologist I had a few years ago, because it was beyond apropos. It had nudity, a hot dermatologist, granny panties, smelly feet and TWO skin conditions (weird moles and hives). I plan on winning. Who can beat a mortifying trip to the dermatologist when the contest is sponsored by Neutrogena? No one, that's who. The contest is called "The Big Blush". There's no bigger blush than being covered in hives, that much I know.

I've already started thinking about the press tour. I'll be on the Today show. They'll laugh about my name. I'll talk about my weird moles - "I've been plagued by dysplastic nevi my whole life," I'll explain. The friendly rep from Neutrogena will review the ABCD method for detecting strange moles, and remind people to buy their sunscreen. Of course, I'll mention I wear Neutrogena Ultra Sheer 55 with Helioplex (tm) EVERY day. "And it really is ultra. sheer!" I'll say as I smile at the camera like the Orbit girl.

With that, I'm off to go wash the face that's gonna make me famous. (With Neutrogena products, naturally.)