34 In Women Now

Family moments and memories help fill the anxious spaces after the fires

Oxbow Market

Spending time in Napa

 

I got a letter from FEMA yesterday offering assistance with my mortgage since I’m living in a declared disaster area.

I’ve never lived in a disaster area before. Okay, part of me wants to say except for those years when the kids were teenagers and all living at home. But this is nothing to joke about.

Caitlin was here this week for our every other Office Tuesday. She’s my admin person, my finance person, my helper when writing content for my Monthly Marketing Bundle program for image professionals. On Office Tuesday she’s the boss of me. I run ideas by her and she reins me in when I get too carried away. She says “No” and that’s it. I trust her completely.

Mid-morning she told me she was feeling lost, unmotivated. Tears welled up in her eyes. She doesn’t have the easiest time verbalizing her feelings and I probably talked too much trying to help her out but I can see how tough it’s been for her.

First her mom gets diagnosed with a strange disease and has weeks of diagnostic tests. At the same time her dad is suddenly in tons of pain and can’t even walk. Her grandmother falls and ends up in the hospital and I’m saying what no one wants to say which is, It’s time for Hospice. And then comes the Wine Country fire. The day her dad is in surgery she’s up here helping me evacuate our house while her big sister back at the hospital. And then last week, her gramma died.

 

Wine Country fires

Caitlin manages the evacuation project

 

“There’s been non-stop crises and chaos and now it’s subsided and I’m exhausted and I don’t know what to do with my life,” she said. I pulled her onto my lap and held her as she cried. “You’ve had a rough, rough time, Honey. This isn’t the time to make decisions about anything,” I said. “Just be gentle.” We took a long lunch and ended up in Napa at Oxbow Market. From the car we saw the sobering landscape over acres and acres of burn.

When she left at 5:30 to head back to the City, I felt lost myself. I could feel this low-level anxiety inside. I didn’t know what to do with myself; I could eat a Snickers bar (they’re everywhere!); I could neaten up the office; I could read a book, but I’m too restless. The only time that feels really right is when multiple family members are under the same roof.

 

Finding something in my office that entertained me

I’m working on this filing project: updating, organizing and beautifying my paper stuff. One of the files I reviewed is labeled Poems & Prose on Sex & Clothes. That phrase came to me one night when I was picking up my son Trevor from a performance at a jazz club in San Rafael called Jazzed. He wasn’t driving yet. A Volvo station wagon is needed when your son plays the standup bass. I’d written stories about clothes (all non-fiction expect for one) that entertained me. Maybe they’d entertain others. I knew Molly Fisk would be the perfect person to share poems on sex. Within weeks Molly and I performed Poems & Prose on Sex & Clothes to a standing room only crowd at Jazzed. Trevor’s jazz band opened and closed the event.

Looking at these stories now puts a smile on my face. I have a fondness for them. The fictionalized piece in the collection is called Red Passion which is the name of a lipstick worn by a very irresponsible mom.

Here’s what was happening just prior to writing this story back then: In real life I was standing in line at the local coffee shop in town wearing my very neutral colored Twig lipstick by MAC and dressed for work. My transition to actually wearing red lipstick was still light years away. The woman in front of me seemed like a carefree wild child. By appearances, her energy and lifestyle seemed like the direct opposite of mine. While waiting my turn, the first line of the story came to me: If I was a different kind of woman, I’d wear red.

When I got my coffee drink which was probably a mocha with whipped cream back then, I sat down and this story flowed from my pen to my Clairefontaine notebook. (Some things never change!) The character (named Bren, but don’t be fooled) isn’t very likable at all. She’s very reckless and kind of raunchy. Well, you’ll see. Here it is:

 

 

Red Passion

If I was a different kind of woman, I’d wear red. Tight, slinky red. Trashy red. Id’ wear so many bangles on my arm, you’d hear me coming three blocks away.

I’d smell sweet and musky. If Calvin Kelin made a perfume copying my scent, he’d make a bundle. If I was a different kind of woman, I’d say to hell with the kids and I’d hop the Santa Fe train and have adventures in every train car. I’d spend my girls’ college tuition on martinis. I’d learn to like martinis. I’d get lots and lots of practice.

My bedtime would be 8 am. Around the time my kids would be walking home from school, I’d be waking up. A man would be rubbing my tummy saying, “Wake up, Bren. Wake up. You told the conductor you wanted to get off in Albequergue.” I’d say, “No baby, I changed my mind. Make it New Orleans.”

When I’d think about it, I’d send postcards: Dear Girls, the mountains are breathtaking, the valleys delicious. Hope you’re doing your homework. Love, Mom.

One day I’m drinking coffee at 4 am in some truck stop after slugging down two eggs over easy, hash browns and two strips of bacon. I’m aiming the cream for my black-filled cup and I see my old life surface with the stirring of the spoon. Three girls. Soccer games. Basketball games. Softball games. Arguments over whose turn it is to do the dishes. Putting miles on my station wagon. A courteous driver; a courteous neighbor; a courteous employee; a courteous mother. Nothing out of the ordinary.

At 4:15 am, asking for a refill, I have a brief flash of loneliness. Then a young man with Indian blood in him, straight black hair to his shoulders, asks me for the sugar. I hand him the sugar. Our eyes lock. He says, “I’m headed for Telluride. Need a lift?” And before the sun rises, we’re making love in the cab of his Mack truck off the Interstate. His name is Jimmy. No, Johnny. Jimmy, Johnny, something like that. I reach for my tube of lipstick and apply “Red Passion” to my full, ready lips. I leave my mark on Jimmy Johnny’s smooth neck.

 

Top Shop red dress

Wearing red, only red (dress image from Top Shop)

 

I know he’s going to be disappointed, but I’ve decided to leave him at the next town. I’m not going all the way to Telluride. Kansas City is calling me. I can’t be any one place too long. I can’t do anything that’s expected of me. I can’t be on time; I can’t be one man’s girl. I was born to roam, to love every man I meet, to dance in every blues bar across the country. To wear red. Only red.

I was born to sin, to never save anything for good, to not save the best till last, to spend it now because I won’t have to worry on a rainy day. I’ll be safe and warm in someone’s arms. I’m that kind of woman: clothes too tight, lips too red, hair too wild, eyes too sassy.

You won’t catch me with any pets–no cats or dogs or parakeets. I don’t have time for that. I’m on the move, on the go. Let me go.

Kids? They’ll be okay. I’ll die with sex under my fingernails, a smile on my lips, Jimmy, Johnny or Sammie wanting to notify my next of kin but finding no mention in my papers. There will be just one note: “Bury me in red. Don’t clean me up. Put ‘Red Passion’ on my lips. Let me rest in peace.”

xxx

 

Oxbow Market in Napa

This day ends and another one will begin

 

I don’t know how I ever dared read those words out loud but Red Passion was a crowd favorite, especially with all the good girls in the audience, the good girls like me. Molly and I ended up doing that event in different parts of California multiple times. Reminiscing is kind of a fun thing to do right now especially when some of us feel lost. The future will show itself and I can’t wait. But in the meantime, I’ll just hang out here in this disaster area I call home.

So, my lovelies, I have a question for you: If you were a different kind of woman, you’d …….?

XO

#SonomaProud   #FamilyStrong   #CaitlinLove   #RedPassion   #MommyfoxyCaityfoxy   #Ohfercute   #Uffda   #Lovefindsaway

 

 

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34 Comments

  • Reply
    Sandi Mcdougall
    October 26, 2017 at 5:36 am

    Loved, loved, loved the article Brenda & I must add, in everyone of us ND gals is that same hidden woman wanting to run from responsibilities and be reckless, if only for a day, week or month. Hell, even a year. ;). Have a great weekend and please keep writing the articles that make me smile inside and out.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 5:34 pm

      Sandi, I think you nailed it! It’s tough to grow up hearing, Now be nice, all the time. We’re bound to want to run the other direction if only in our minds! Loved your insight!

  • Reply
    Katherine Cramer
    October 26, 2017 at 6:24 am

    Yes. Yes. Yes. I’ll have what she is having.
    Why should I be a tiny bit surprised? Lovely Brenda has a active fantasy life and SHARED it with several live audiances! Kudos Dear One! My attempt at replicating The Kensington Ladies Erotic Society fell short back in the late 80s or early 90s. You, however created an inspired and authentic life event. Fantastic! I am enriched by you. In gratitude Brenda.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      Katherine, you are such a sweetheart! You make me grin and grin and want to be more exciting than I am!

  • Reply
    Emily
    October 26, 2017 at 6:30 am

    Love this! ThNks for the peek behind that red smile! I think I’ll take my navy blue and khaki self in my brown sandals down and buy some red shoes! Keep writing!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      Emily, I love it! Maybe I need to go out there and buy myself a red cashmere sweater ONCE AND FOR ALL!!!

  • Reply
    LA CONTESSA
    October 26, 2017 at 8:21 am

    RED………not my favorite color but I LIKE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE WITH IT HERE!
    YOU are LOOKING GREAT for all THAT IS GOING ON AROUND YOU!
    STAY STRONG……………XX

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 5:37 pm

      Thanks, Elizabeth. We are limping along in our little community! But small steps count and they add up.

  • Reply
    Ann
    October 26, 2017 at 10:29 am

    🙂 Yup. You’ve just escaped with your life. And now you want to spend it on something.

    Life is full of a number of things. 🙂

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 5:37 pm

      Indeed, Ann! It’s a humbling experience.

  • Reply
    Jacquie Denny
    October 26, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Loved the story. What a great fantasy escape. I love red but have to be in the right frame of mind to wear it.
    I agree that the fire was traumatic. ..sleepless nights and days when it was hard to concentrate or focus on anything.
    You’ve had more than your share of trauma lately . You have my sympathy and best wishes.
    On another subject, you mentioned Ruthie in Petaluma. Could you please tell me what salon she works in? Thanks.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      Hi Jacquie, ran into a friend today and we were sharing the weight of this thing we’ve been through. Everyone is exhausted from the highs and lows of what’s going to happen, will I be safe, will my neighbors be safe. A whirlwind of anxiety. Ruthie is one of the owners of Urban Elements. It’s across the street from the movie theaters in that little cluster of businesses. She’s great!

  • Reply
    Cathy D.
    October 26, 2017 at 11:33 am

    There are at least two things I love about you. One is your wonderful sense of fashion and you ability to share it with others. That’s what initially attracted me to your blog, one of the most helpful I’ve found for women of my age. The other thing is your imagination, combined with your writing ability. You have perfectly captured the desire inside all of us “good girls” to be the lady in red. I know how you must be suffering after the health scare and the fires, but also think these experiences will make you, already a very strong person, even stronger. So don’t give up. There’s still lots of adventure, lots of fun to be had in the future. And please don’t stop sharing your wisdom with us.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 5:41 pm

      Cathy, your words really give me strength. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Reply
    Tanya
    October 26, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Having just found you a few weeks back I have been enjoying catching up. Odd, today, while I loved the Red prose…I was touched with your closing “Reminiscing is kind of a fun thing to do right now especially when some of us feel lost.” I have been feeling quite lost this past year and “remembering when” quite a bit. It is soothing somehow to see that I am not alone in my looking back — I beat myself up a bit thinking I should always be looking forward; but sometimes there is nothing to see out there…so it is more soothing to look back. So thanks for that! You can get to my blog either through my online store http://www.tanyalochridge.com or directly at http://www.tanyalochridgejewelry.blogspot.com

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 5:43 pm

      “Soothing” is perhaps an undervalued quality. I can look at pictures of my family from years back and feel soothed by the richness that has grown over the years. I wonder if we aren’t meant to do more looking back than we do! Appreciation and gratitude come when we do. Glad you found this blog. You’ll like us!

  • Reply
    Diane
    October 26, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    I loved this Brenda! You hit a cord with me. I guess you could say I’m in the Autumn of my life. At the point where my children are all settled but not without their bumps in the road, but they can overcome. I do also think about the “path not taken for me.” What would my life have been like if I had chosen to take the road less traveled? There are a few cells in me that wonder about that lately. No regrets you understand, but under different circumstances, who knows where I could have wound up. Maybe better, maybe worse. There is a side of me that could have gone down the wrong path! But it might have been thrilling. But I was raised right as they say. Well, I’m babbling while drinking 2 glasses of chardonnay. Pardon me. I do love your blog for many reasons.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 5:44 pm

      I love your babbling! You can always settle in with a class of Chardonnay and hang out over here. We’re listening! And thinking about the same things you are!

  • Reply
    cindy hattersley
    October 26, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Brenda you have what it takes…you can write…you can direct us toward what we should be doing stylewise and lifewise. That is a deadly combo. How many can claim that title? I am so grateful to have found you…one of these days we are going to get together and create magic!!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 5:45 pm

      Cindy, I think of you so very fondly. What a wonderful fate it was for me to meet you guys back in June! Yes, I cannot wait for when we have some face to face, skill to skill time. We’ll learn even more about each other. Thanks for your gracious words!

  • Reply
    Bess Nathan Rice
    October 26, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Love it BK! Love your tender nurturing of Caitlin!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 5:45 pm

      Thanks, Bess! She’s a peach!

  • Reply
    Sandra Sallin
    October 26, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    You naughty lady. Love it. Putting on that Red Passion right now. Wild one!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      I’ve thought of this story since meeting you and couldn’t wait for the time when you’d read it. I figured you’d understand!

  • Reply
    Denise Lampron
    October 27, 2017 at 12:13 am

    I had thoughts of you today, Brenda wondering how you were coping. I open my computer and there you are — Red Passion. And compassion for Caitlin. Your words reached deep and if I were a different kind of woman, I would have said yes to the rich guy and lived life with plenty of red shoes and lipstick. I opted for love that has it’s very own shade of red. Thank you for updating us.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      There are some very rich stories there, Denise. Would love to hear them! xx

  • Reply
    Diane
    October 27, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    I’ve just found you today… so glad I did. I’m so sorry for all of the trauma there in one of my favorite parts of the world. I also understand that feeling of Now What? after the devastation is over. It can actually be a time for strengthening and healing on many levels but it does take time. Sometimes more than you would think.
    If I were going to be a different kind of woman… hmm, that is an interesting question. I’ll have to think about it…

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 5:51 pm

      Really understand the Now What question. Mostly the Now What has been to change physical things in the house. I’ve gone through cabinets and drawers and purged. I’m rearranging my storage area in the garage to make it more pretty. I’m thinning things out so what I see is what I need or love. I’ve always been pretty good about that but it feels more urgent now. Cheers to you and to your pondering of that question.

  • Reply
    Vivian Harrington
    October 27, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Red. In my youth I avoided red. I thought it clashed with my hair. Red was too vibrant, too visible, a little dangerous. As I gained wisdom I began to embrace red ~ red hair, a red dress or sweater, a touch of red in every room, a red waterfall ankle length coat, and a red yoga mat. Red resonates with life, adventure, joy, Cabernet , the beauty of a rose, begonia, carnation, tomato, Virginia creeper n autumn, the blood that pumps through each of us and the fires that destroy yet facilitate the regeneration of new growth. Now, I associate red with joy, being grounded, feeling invincible.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 5:56 pm

      Wow, wow, wow! This is fabulous! I have avoided red as well. I wear it in lipstick but I have felt too that it was too visible, too dangerous, just too too. But I’m ready to expand my view. About three years ago I fell for a bright orange and got used to wearing that bold of a color. I think it’s my training wheels to get to red. You’re giving me the courage!

  • Reply
    Trinnie Q
    October 28, 2017 at 4:15 am

    oh my goodness,! the lows and ebb of the last weeks, the trauma , exhaustion and (lostness) if that is a word, not sure), forall you ,that your family and your community have been through! Your beautiful Mother love and nurturing of your darling daughter . Then on to your wonderful, poignant, polar opposite, of the woman we have all glimpsed, The woman in red!!! Thank you for this wonderful, tapestry , that weaves its way ,at different times, throughout all our lives. Having been quite lost in my earlier years, there have been moments, that i was, perhaps a woman in orange, or purple, depending on the day or night, but yes , sometimes , too , a woman in red. Because I associate her, this woman, with lostness and running away and trauma, I no longer seek, to travel her path. I also saw my share of our struggling sister, seemingly carefree, wanton, and to hell with you all… in the woman I cared for in Women’s Refuges ! So, long answer, but today, I am happy, being the woman I am. With the life I have…. But, if it were different, in another time.. I will travel the world, laugh with friends, I am yet to meet, Discover new countries, and customs and terrains… but never, ever give up the hard earned love and respect, that i have for the woman, I already am. Always , sending love and peace to you and yours, from Oz . Go gently in this restless time x

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 5:59 pm

      “Go gently in this restless time.” I think I will share those words with all my local friends. Such wisdom there, Trinnie. My oh my. I love your take on the woman in red. She’s quite a vision. I always feel blessed by your shares and the love you send from Oz. Blessings! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Kathy
    October 29, 2017 at 3:57 am

    Ito answer your question: I would opt to be a better version of me. I believe we have so many facets and sides to ourselves that get pushed back or go undeveloped. I would like to see a more fearless me…not afraid to say what I think for fear of upsetting someone, able to dress each day how I feel, and not afraid to own my life…to be undefined by the tradition of marriage and children. I would wear red but no color would be off limits! How freeing is that?

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 29, 2017 at 6:01 pm

      You have given us a great recipe here! I love every word of it. Yes, I too would like to be more fearless. Could that be what we are growing into? Our fearlessness? I’m going to be reading your comment several more times. It’s delicious!

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