Big Edie, Little Edie, My Mom and Me

“You and Kim will end up in your own ‘Grey Gardens’ one day,” a friend’s boyfriend whispered to me at a party a few years ago. The “Kim” in question was, of course, my mother.

At the time, I hadn’t watched the famed Maysles brothers documentary, but I was familiar with the gist of it: a mother and daughter, both single and unemployed, live together in a microcosm of their own at an eccentric estate, drive each other nuts, and do weird shit, like consult astrology and dance with their cats or something.

Obviously I love my mom and all, but even though we had just thrown a fairly successful sex party for friends of mine, a betrothed couple, at my parents’ house (which, coincidentally, or not, resides on a street that starts with “Grey”), wherein which my mom and I exchanged sex tips while passing around a large dildo and showed off our identical blue moon tattoos, I was downright insulted by the insinuation. Who was he to assume that just because my mom and I share a mutual adoration for Stanley Tucci and a disdain for a cubicle existence, I wouldn’t get married to a man or a career, or both? Who was he to imply that just because my mom and I routinely drunkenly passed out on her Queen-sized bed together during our annual Christmas party that our relationship was so symbiotic that we’d rather die together than live apart?

But, mostly, I was scared shitless of his remark because I knew it was true.

Brianne and Mom cake fightI’ve lived with my mom as an adult on-and-off for the past five years, and to say we are “close” is putting it mildly. My mom once went to a psychic and he told her that in a past life, we had been sisters – I being the older one – who worked on a vineyard in Italy. I think that best sums up our relationship: a sometimes-contentious-but-super-loyal-and-loving relationship with boundary issues that rivals the crazy antics of Trading Places in which the wine flows freely. It works for us.

The last time I moved back home, as I sat in the backyard with my mom, drinking tea and bickering about what we should eat for dinner, I remembered the ‘Grey Gardens’ comment, so I finally watched it on YouTube. I can now, finally, say, that my friend’s (now ex) boyfriend’s prediction is absolutely…correct (except Mom is way too tidiness-oriented to live in such squalor and my flag dancing isn’t what it used to be.)

If you’re unsure whether or not the relationship you share with your mom is “Grey Gardens”-like, I’ve compiled a list of signs (along with actual quotes from Little and Big Edie) that will either scare the shit out of you, or have you running to the nearest Goodwill to purchase scarves and kimonos.

“Mom wanted me to wear a kimono. We got into quite the fight.” – Little Edie

Mom and I can have quite the throwdowns. But when it comes to clothes? Red alert! We have the exact same taste in clothes, and it suuuuucks. You’d think American Eagle would be sacred, but no. And neither of us will budge. So, the other day, Mom and I showed up at a family friend’s house, dressed EXACTLY THE SAME. It was as awful as you can imagine.

“Oh, Edie! Are you around?” – Big Edie

I am always around for: computer and/or Android panic, grocery shopping, watching The Young & The Restless, going down to the basement to retrieve olive oil or mustard, opening windows to “let the breeze in,” drying dishes, drinking sparkling wine on the porch, getting the mail, setting the table. Basically, I am ALWAYS AROUND.

“If you don’t do what everybody else does out there…you’re written off as crazy.” – Little Edie

I just got my mom into watching, and figuring out how to watch, Netflix. Needless to say, she’s way behind in everything. That means no Breaking Bad, no Bates Motel, no Orange is the New Black. I resisted watching Season 2 of OITNB until Mom caught up (because, basically, every night is Netflix night with us) but then the spoilers came, and everyone’s asking, “Why haven’t you watched it yet?!” and “why do you have to watch it with your Mom?” I don’t HAVE to, of course. But I choose to. Because I want to. And if that means being ostracized and written off as “so analog,” then so be it.

“It’s true about old maids. They don’t need men if they have cats.” – Little Edie

We, indeed, have two cats. We talk to them. We sing with them. Yes, we even dance with them (see above.) We love animals a lot. At one point, we had three dogs and three cats underneath one roof, and we couldn’t be happier. There’s even an altar of urns filled with our dead pets, along with whiskers and old nail clippings. It’s soothing to us.

“Where the hell did you come from?” – Big Edie

As I previously mentioned, Mom and I can go all World War III on each other in the blink of an eye over ANYTHING. We fight over who makes the perfect cup of tea, going to great lengths to prove who’s the Tea Master (refusing to make tea-for-two, refusing to refill the milk, refusing to share cookies, etc.) We fight over our Netflix nights (OK, I had to watch Season 2 of OITNB without her, I had to!). We fight over who did or didn’t set the house alarm. We fight over laundry, dinner, The Bachelorette, One Republic – you name it, and we’ve fought over it. The reason for this is because, for the most part, we are not alike. I’m a Capricorn, she’s an Aries. I’m pragmatic, she’s passionate. I like cold water, she likes hot water. When I was a child, I wondered aloud if I was, indeed, adopted. But, then I remember that we’ve been in each other’s lives since the Italian vineyard days, and that we both adore Hall & Oates, and it’s all good.

“’Course I’m mad about animals, but raccoons and cats become a little bit boring. I mean, for too long a time.” – Big Edie

My mom and I spend many afternoons in our backyard with our summer cocktails – blueberry martinis – where we have named a large bunny, Carl, and have kept an eye on Eleanor and Leonard’s family (they’re robins.) It seems that Eleanor and Leonard and their babies have flown the coop, or, possibly, Roger (a squirrel) ate the eggs, and they’re in mourning. We are still hopeful for their return.

“I better check on Mother. She’s a lot of fun. I hope she doesn’t die.” – Little Edie

Yep.

The original article was published on The Toast.

"A Woman’s Hair Reflects Her Life"

I cut my hair last week. It’s what I usually do when I want a change. Of course, the things I want to change are not in my hair (only secrets), but there’s something very visceral about shearing one’s ‘do. It’s a signal to the Universe that says, “I’m done with the status quo! Come at me with your best shot, bro!” Or as Felicity said before she chopped off her famous locks, “It’s one thing to say you’re going to let go, it’s another thing to loosen your grip and let yourself fall.”

OK, maybe that’s super deep and more depressing than what I want my new haircut to represent (and LAWD KNOWS Felicity’s hair had serious issues) but there is something to be said about how changing one’s image shifts the way we interact with the world. Recently, I came upon an expression: “A woman’s hair is her life.” I would go one step further and say, “a woman’s hair reflects her life.”

Take my hair-story. Up until the age of eleven years old, I had long hair, always kept up in a ponytail. I remember a classmate asking me, “Why don’t you ever wear it down?” My hair was representative of how I was back then: a shy, straight-A, upright, uptight, responsible kid. I wasn’t the one in the closet having Seven Minutes of Heaven; I was the girl outside, watching the clock. I didn’t let my hair down in any sense.

Brianne Young Hair1 A Womans Hair Reflects Her Life

Then there was the perm in grade seven. A PERM. First of all, who gets a perm under the age of seventy? (Thanks for that, Mom). Second of all, whose perm lasts a whole friggin’ YEAR?! That would be me, and also me. Sure, I was finally wearing my hair down, but now it was this poufy, frizzy, unruly mop on top my head. Grade seven would also be the year in which I was bullied and ostracized by most of the girls in my class. Coincidence? When everyone around you has age-appropriate hair and you stick out like you stuck your sore thumb in an electrical socket? I think not. I didn’t look like the status quo, I dared to be different, and I paid for it.

Who didn’t have The Rachel cut in the mid-90s? I sure did. It wasn’t the most horrible cut (contrary to what Jen says), but surrounding a face that hadn’t fully developed (baby face!), it didn’t do me any favours. But I was fourteen and in grade nine, and attempting to emulate women who you thought were cooler and prettier than you were is pretty much de rigeur of growing up.

My hair post-Rachel was semi-short. I had the choice of either growing down (which, in high school years, would take FOREVERRRR) or cutting up. I chose up. The Winona Pixie Cut. Inspired by her overall awesomeness (this was pre-shoplifting scandal) (WHY ARE WE STILL PUNISHING HER?). Fuck. What a mistake that was. My hair and Winona’s shoplifting. Insipid boys badgered me constantly with their vicious name-calling, I was basically dead to my summer camp crush, but worst of all, I just felt UGLY. And feeling ugly as a teen is, like, the WORST feeling you could experience. My hair took just as long to grow out as it did for me to feel good about myself again (also, NOT a coincidence). To this day, I refuse to get a pixie cut. I mean, it looks good on y’all (J. Law, Bey, etc.) but I just. Can’t. deal. (Hair baggage).

Brianne Pixie Cut 300x202 A Womans Hair Reflects Her Life

Under the impression that blondes did have more fun, and girl-crushing on Faith Hill (guys, she was HUGE back in the late ‘90s.“Breathe,” anyone?), I went totally blonde during my OAC (a.k.a. grade 13) year. I was fast on the heels of the big, bad world and I wanted to feel like a real grown-ass woman, but, mostly, I just wanted to feel sexy. Faith was sexy. Writhing and rolling around in those satin sheets? Married to Tim McGraw? Orgasming in the desert while wearing a knockout dress? I wanted to experience ALL of that (truthfully, I still do). But I was only 17, and I had a long ways to go. I think my math teacher at the time best summed up me as a blonde: “I think that dye has seeped into your head and has done something to your brain.” (He was a great guy, though. Really).

Brianne Blonde 300x198 A Womans Hair Reflects Her Life

In my twenties, I stayed au naturale—auburn—and wore my hair long. There were new jobs, guys and apartments, but life still hung in the balance. Much like my hair. Hanging. Staying the same. Looked good, sure, but it wasn’t AWESOME.

Brianne Normal Hair 300x450 A Womans Hair Reflects Her Life

Then a few years later, after I returned home from L.A. where a play of mine had flopped, a romance had fizzled and I was generally feeling STUCK, I cut and dyed my hair black a la Angelina Jolie in “Salt.” I thought if ever there was a woman who inhabited what it means to be a total badass in control of her life and her lovers, it’s Angelina. I wore my hair like that for a few years because, uh, guess what? It worked! I felt powerful, sexier and confident. I quit jobs I didn’t like, got promotions, traveled, dated whomever I wanted. I WAS Angelina Jolie (except without all the kids and millions of tats and dinners with Brad).

Brianne Black Hair 300x292 A Womans Hair Reflects Her Life

But life as Angie is tiresome (honestly, how does she do it?). I wanted to return to my roots, both hair-wise and life-wise. I wanted to get back to me, and who I was underneath all these haircuts and dyes. I decided my priority was to feel more authentic, to live life more organically, to be more flow-y. So I returned to auburn, and then, I found myself in my hairdresser’s chair last week. I don’t know what this new phase will bring me, but if my current lob is any indication, it will be lighter, freer, low-maintenance with more bounce than I’ve seen in a while.

Brianne Hair Before and After Shot 300x300 A Womans Hair Reflects Her Life

My hairdresser said to me, as she cut off my long ponytail,“I’m really happy you’re doing this,” and I agree.

The original article was published on She Does The City. 

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The Guys Guide to Getting Over a Breakup

Breakups suck. Bottom line. It doesn’t matter which side you were on—dumper, dumpee—breaking up really is hard to do. You either feel guilty or like shit, or both.

In the aftermath of the breakup, you might still hold onto false hope that you and your ex might reunite. Not good. You also might be spending more time on the couch watching How I Met Your Mother ad nauseum. That’s not good, either.

While it’s good to feel your feelings, you want to recover from the breakup quickly and effectively. That’s why I enlisted Nicole McCance, a top relationship psychologist in Toronto, to help you on your journey of recovery.

WHAT TO DO IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE BREAKUP

You’re heartbroken. You feel empty. Sad. Confused. Maybe even a bit angry. What’s the best thing you can do for yourself? “Call a buddy and go out,” says McCance.

“The worst thing you can do is hang out by yourself with your negative thoughts. You are sure to feel down and sorry for yourself. Get outside, change your environment. But make sure it is with a positive friend who is going to make you laugh and feel great about yourself.” So go on and call up the pal who always makes you bust a gut andgrab a beer. You need to see sunlight.

WHAT TO DO DURING THE WEEKS AFTER THE BREAKUP

The weeks after breaking up pretty much run the emotional gamut. One day you’re brooding, the next day you’re obsessively thinking about all the things you should have said, or about all the things she said that you wished she hadn’t. All that furrowed browing can leave you feeling exhausted, but, according to McCance, emotional toiling isn’t what should be tiring you—it should be old-fashioned exercise.

“Hit the gym,” says McCance. “This will improve your mood and help release tension.”

After the gym, you should take heed of another tip from McCance and go out. “Be social. You may not feel like being around others but being outside of your home and all the cues that remind you of her is important.” But what about the hairbrush she left at your place? Or that photo of the two of you vacationing in Hawaii? Ditch them.

McCance advises to remove all memory triggers, including putting away any gifts she may have given you, so you can “see them with some emotional distance.”

And what about all of that obsessive brooding? “Write your feelings down,” says McCance. “I know this is not the first thing a man thinks about but writing down your thoughts and feelings, even on a notepad in your phone, will help you stop obsessing about her.”

WHAT NOT TO DO DURING YOUR BREAKUP RECOVERY

Some of your friends might advise you to get back on the horse, but McCance actually advises against dating so soon. “Don’t go on a date,” says McCance. “You will just compare her to your ex and leave missing your ex more. Give it time. The grieving process cannot be sped up unfortunately. You have to go through it.” OK, but what about spending your nights with a certain someone named Jack Daniels? McCance nixes that too, as well as putting in extra hours at the office. “Try not to throw yourself into work or booze. Your emotions will just come up again later if they are not felt and dealt with.”

WHAT ABOUT REUNITING?

You might want to backslide. You might think that you, or she, made a horrible mistake. You were meant to be, weren’t you? Or maybe you just need some clarity. So what’s the harm in grabbing an innocent coffee?

Well, a lot more than you think. “Sometimes we feel that there is unfinished business, something that you feel you need to say,” says McCance. “If this is the case and the goal is to get closure, then it’s ok to have one last conversation. Try not to have expectations on how it will go. Don’t expect her to understand you. She may not.  With little expectation you will leave this conversation feeling like you were able to say your piece and her reaction is less important. This conversation is for you to get closure and move on.” And if you were hoping that coffee might turn into ex sex, McCance says forget it. “It may feel great in the moment, but the aftermath can be confusing and most of the time has you go back to a situation that is better off over.”

YOU CAN’T GET HER OUTTA YOUR HEAD

It’s been a few weeks since Dumping Day, but you can’t seem to shake her. You’re looking her up on Facebook, checking out her tweets. You don’t eat, you can’t sleep. Exercise doesn’t work. Your funny friend can’t cheer you up. What to do? Seek help, my friend. “When [the breakup] is getting in the way of your sleep, appetite and functioning at work, a therapist can help you take an honest and objective look at your life,” says McCance. “When you’re coming from your own perspective and things remain the same, letting someone in on what you’re going through can shed a different light on your current situation.”

Oh, and remember: you will date again. Just hang in there.

The original article was published on Daily XY. 

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MY ONLINE DATE CALLED ME A CHEAP-LOOKING, ANOREXIC CUNT BECAUSE I REJECTED HIM

When I tried online dating for the first time, I had some reservations. I had problems with creating a cute, catchy nickname. I had issues with surrendering to an algorithm playing matchmaker. I didn’t like mechanical “winking” or determining which guy in the frat-looking group shot was the actual guy who I was messaging with.
 
And when a friend of mine told me that I’d have to treat online dating like it’s a  “second job” in order to get “results,” I wanted to quit it right then and there. I already had a job that sucked the life, joy and spontaneity out of me –- I didn’t need another. 
 
But then I was matched with Mark* (not his real name. honestly, I don’t even remember what his real name was, lucky dog. Truly. LUCKY. DOG.). 
 
Mark was tall, dark, sufficiently handsome, and, if that wasn’t cliché enough, he was also a doctor. I don’t usually fall for cookie cutter tropes, but seeing as I was at the end of my rope when it came to my online dating experience, I gave Mark a “wink” and hoped he’d at least wink back, or dazzle me with a “Hi!” Maybe a “How R U?” if I was blessed. 
 
Within 24 hours, Mark did wink back as well as formally introducing himself using proper grammar, no less. He told me he was an orthopedic surgeon who enjoyed cycling and being outdoors. He was close to his family, especially with his mom, and he really, really liked using emoticons.
 
Truthfully, with the exception of being close to our mothers, Mark and I didn’t have much in common. I prefer driving over cycling and my vocab includes “The Great Outdoors” only because it’s a really funny John Candy movie. But I also recognized that creating online profiles is tricky and two-dimensional, so when Mark suggested we meet IRL, I said yes. 
 
We were both living in the ‘burbs at the time, so we decided to meet in the city at a waterfront restaurant for something new. I was a few minutes early, but I popped my head inside to check if Mark was there anyway. I scanned the bar and didn’t see anyone who looked like Mark’s profile pic, so I hung out outside waiting for his text* to say he had arrived. (*We had exchanged phone numbers before meeting. I, being the online dating newbie, thought this was the norm. Now I know why this isn’t always the best or safest thing to do, but more about that later…)
 
Soon I got a text from Mark informing me he was sitting at the restaurant bar. I was surprised. I was just in there, and I hadn’t seen anyone matching Mark’s description enter the restaurant. Curious. 
 
I went to the bar, again scanned the patrons and again didn’t see Mark, or at least the Mark I was expecting to see. Then, a guy (over) dressed in a pinstripe suit and a satin red shirt swiveled around to face me. 
  
“Brianne?” He said. 
 
Wait. Hold up. This guy was Mark? This guy looked older and heavier than the dude who I’d been communicating with. Not ugly, just not my type, and more importantly, not like his profile pic.
 
We shook hands, and he asked if I wanted to go out to the patio for a drink. I said, “Sure!” and we were seated at a table facing Lake Ontario. 
 
At this point, I already knew it wasn’t going to work out between Mark and I. Not only was there a certain spark missing, but also my gut kept telling me something was off. However, I didn’t want to be rude so I thought I could just finish my glass of wine and leave. We ordered our drinks, and then…silence. 
 
“So, why did you try online dating?” I asked breaking the awkwardness. 
 
“Oh, I don’t know…I guess because I’m sick of dating nurses,” he said. “I don’t want to sh*t where I eat.”
 
Fair enough, I thought. More awkward silence. Then the drinks arrived, finally! I took a big, looong sip. He asked me something about my career and I yammered on about editing and Photoshopping. He looked bored, so I asked him about cycling. After his long-winded story of him biking solo for miles Forrest Gump-style, he suddenly stood up and said, “Are you cold? I’m freezing.” I was fine, but he was insistent on going inside, so we moved to a new table. When we sat down, I (sadly) realized my wine glass was still half-full, and that this date was going nowhere fast. I knew it was time to bust out my escape plan.
 
“So, do you have any plans tonight?” I asked. 
 
“Not really,” he said. 
 
“Well, I have a birthday party to go, and I think I should get going…”
 
Mark’s glare — the most life I had seen in him all night — sliced through my obvious fib and me. 
 
“Just go,” he said gruffly.
 
“I’ll pay for my drink. It was nice meeting you,” I said. He grunted and I hurriedly left the table and shoved money at a random waitress before hightailing it out of there. No sooner was I out on the street when I received a text from Mark. 
 
“Maybe he’s going to apologize for being rude,” I (naively) thought. 
 
Wrong. 
 
His text message read: “You ugly, anorexic, cheap-looking c**t!” 
 
My heart stopped in my chest. Did I just read that correctly? I’ve been name-called a few times in my day, but never so viciously like that before. Another text: “Who do you think you are walking out like that!”
 
Um, an independent woman who didn’t want to waste her time?
 
Then another text: “And you couldn’t even f***ing pay for your drink, you cheap bitch!”
 
Now I was really mad. I had indeed paid for my drink, but knowing from my past waitressing days, his annoying determination of changing seats probably messed the bill up. Idiot.
 
“I did pay for my drink, actually,” I wrote back, thinking that I could attempt to reason with a mad man. 
 
Wrong again. 
 
“Don’t you lie to me, you f***ing bitch. You probably make less than $20K a year. You and your cheap clothes can f**k off.” 
 
Cheap clothes?! My Zara top and American Eagle jeans weren’t suitable for a man wearing Wayne Newton’s hand-me-downs? 
 
The abusive texts kept coming for the next hour until I was finally able to block his number, and thus erasing him from my phone forever, though, unfortunately, not from my memory. His expletive personal attack lived with me for a while after our date. 
 
Ugly. Anorexic. Cheap-looking. C**t. 
 
I’m aware enough to realize that his ego was bruised and his offensive language was how he was attempting to regain some control of the situation, but that reasoning, obviously, doesn’t condone his disgusting behavior. He was an absolute foul human being who used misogynistic terms to reduce me to a useless, shameful commodity…all because I rejected him. No doubt dude was suffering from toxic masculinity. His attempt to diminish me by insulting my size, my face and my clothes is just another example (albeit, extreme) of how women are constantly valued and criticized by what we look like. His attack is also another example of the gross misconception that if a guy shows interest in a woman, then she “owes” him something, whether it is her body, her time or her appreciation for him “liking” her. Ew. 
 
Before I could report his profile to the dating site the next day, I noticed Mark had deleted his account. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t resurrected somewhere else (buyer beware of the Erik Estrada-looking doctor). I can only hope that another woman hasn’t experienced the hellish date I did.
 
I wanted to quit online dating after that date, and I almost signed off for good that evening. But I didn’t want Mark to taint my online dating experience. I didn’t want him to ruin it for all the other decent guys who are looking for love online, or just a pleasurable, non-abusive evening with a cute writer. I wanted Dr. Douche to be the exception, and not the rule. 
 
I dated a couple of guys after him, and even if they didn’t work out, I’m happy to report that I didn’t receive any abusive text messages afterward. 
 
I deleted my online dating account a few months after the Date From Hell. I didn’t end up finding true love online, but I found the next best thing: self-love. 
 
I have the right to not like every guy I go out with, just as I have the right to not be called a “c**t” if I say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” We all do.  
The original article was published on XOJane
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