Eyelid All Red, Better Head Back to Bed

Growing up in the South means growing up with a lot of, uhhm, well, I guess you’d call them superstitions or wives tales.

If you have a sore white bump on your tongue, well, that’s a lie bump, caused by telling fibs. Freckles are where the angels kissed you (although why the angels felt it necessary to only mack down on my shoulders is unaccounted for).

A random full-bodied shiver means someone has walked over your grave (because, apparently, white trash folks believe in reincarnation. Oddly, I never saw any Buddhist temples in my corner of the trailer park).

yolo

And if your palms are itching, it means either company’s coming or money’s coming. I could never remember which hand was which. Plus, based on my family’s socio-economic development, I think we can squash the money’s coming wives tale completely. Although, to be fair, there never was a time limit on that one, so maybe I should go and check the mail real quick.

So when my left eyelid started itching and getting red and tender, I just assumed it was a sign that some sort of gift was imminent or maybe the devil had tried to poke me in the eye and I’d flinched or some such nonsense.

poke-in-the-eye-street-art

After about a month of it, I went to the dermatologist. Yeah, a month. I’m pretty lazy when it comes to the doctor stuff.

Which was another funny thing: I wasn’t quite sure what doctor to go to on this one. It’s my eye, so my first thought was the eye doctor, but it wasn’t inside my eye, just my eyelid, so maybe my general physician. I finally settled on the dermatologist because, well, his office was the closest. Yep, that’s how I make medical decisions – geographic desirability.

It was a generally useless visit since I only had an irritated eyelid, and not an all-over body rash.

eye poke

He asked if I had ever had any rashes anywhere else, any signs of eczema or anything. Nope. He asked about my facial routine – did I use any creams or lotions or eye creams or anti-wrinkle serums. I said yes. He asked which of those options. I pointed out that I’m 41, so yeah, I use all of them. He asked if any of them contained retinol, AHA’s, vitamin C, etc, etc. I said, ‘well, they say they make your skin look younger.’

Basically, he said he couldn’t really diagnose it beyond just generic dermatitis, but he could give me a cream for it (yeah another cream!). The silly man asked me if I was still wearing eye makeup, to which I responded, “Of course! My eyelid is red! I’m not walking around with some red eyelid.”

In return, he made fun of me for using Neosporin on it, pointing out that Neosporin is used to combat potential infection. Not a skin rash. My bad. I put Neosporin on everything. It’s my go to first aid product.

Except for on lie bumps. Do not put Neosporin in your mouth. It’s a bad idea. For lie bumps, you need to drink lots of wine. And don’t let cats around babies….they steal their breath!

rain superstition

 

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Reality TV Time: To the (Myrtle) Manor Born

I grew up in trailer parks. Made friends at fine “semi-permanent establishments” in Arkansas, ran wild in “land lease communities” in Missouri, gotten in fist fights in “mobile communities” all over Texas.

But none of those temporal estates were as nice as the five-star Myrtle Manor on TLC’s seminal ode to the cheapest form of the American Dream (by which I mean, home ownership), “Welcome to Myrtle Manor.”

pool

This Myrtle Manor place has an onsite hair salon (the hilariously named Tangulls – get it? Gulls?) and an above ground swimming pool. Most of the places we lived in had amenities along the lines of a shared clothes line and a kiddie pool with a mysterious scum floating on top. Myrtle Manor has a security guard (granted, he’s not very effective. OK, he’s weird). At the trailer parks we shacked up in, the only security were the packs of gnarly matted dogs of dubious ownership origins running up and down the dusty roads.

tangulls

Verisimilitude aside, I do thoroughly enjoy the show. In fact, many of the characters seem quite familiar, and not just from my dysfunctional childhood.

No, Myrtle Manor actually reminds me of another grandly named television show locale: Downton Abbey.

Now, I’ve only seen one season of Downton Abbey – I think it was season two. I was on a plane coming back from Spain and my personal travel companion XFE got upgraded, while my lowly, non-platinum status self, did not. So, I watched an entire season of Downton Abbey, by myself, in coach, lubricated with many of those tiny bottles of wine, purchased on XFE’s credit card. Actually not a bad way to spend a transatlantic flight.

I’d heard a lot about the show, obviously and my overall thought was, “eh, it’s ok, if a bit overly dramatic.” This is all just to say, I’m not an expert on the show or anything, and I know that a lot of people feel very passionately about it.

I also know that many, many people were quite disappointed by some of the plot twists incorporated in this last season. In fact, some of them are so upset, that perhaps they’re looking for a Downton replacement.

To which I humbly offer up Myrtle Manor, which also does a pretty good job with overly dramatic plots and soap opera story lines.

mm map

Robert, Earl of Grantham is the lord of Downton Abbey. He spends much of the series fretting over his need for a male heir to carry on the family name and save the estate from financial ruin. When last I watched, it appeared that his eldest daughter, Lady Mary Crowley would be his only viable heir.

Similarly, the stern patriarch of Myrtle Manor is Cecil Patrick. His father built the place and he is ready to pass it down to his own heir, Becky Robertson. Alas, Becky must constantly prove herself worthy of Myrtle Manor stewardship.

mess with trailer park

Both shows have good looking boys who are nothing but trouble and seem to operate on the fringes of polite society. In Downton Abbey, you have Tom Branson, a handsome yet outspoken Irish revolutionary former chauffeur who runs off with the Earl’s youngest daughter. On Myrtle Manor, you have Jared, a charming, ne’er-do-well living in the trailer park rent free.  All the women, including landlord Becky, have a soft spot for him and he skates by. Interestingly, both Tom Branson and Jared are into hats – Tom, obviously, wears a chauffeur’s cap, while Jared is the proud owner of a beat up boat captain hat.

And, according to this picture, a super ridiculous patriotic hat.
And, according to this picture, a super ridiculous patriotic hat.

There are a bevy of young beauties on each show: The Crawley girls lead complicated lives, yearning for love and respect in post-World War I England. When I first encountered the show, Mary, the eldest daughter was trying to save her reputation after a scandal involving a tryst that ended in the death of some young Turkish ambassador, or something.  Meanwhile, the youngest daughter, Sybil had her own romantic complications (with the chauffeur) and was trying to find professional fulfillment by training to become a nurse.

From what I can ascertain, Lady Mary sexed this diplomat to death.
From what I can ascertain, Lady Mary sexed this diplomat to death.

Myrtle Beach has the Darlin’ Dog girls, an entrepreneurial bunch who run a portable hot dog stand. They include Lindsay, Chelsey, Amanda and Jessica.  Like the women on Downton Abbey, they too are trying to navigate in a male-dominated world, and make time for partying.

weiner girls

And, of course, you need an old, wisecracking lady for some comic relief. Downton Abbey has Lord Grantham’s mother, Lady Violet. She’s a real hoot, meddling in everybody’s business, and she is routinely scandalized by all the goings on with those young people. Myrtle Manor has Miss Peggy Beaulieu, a spitfire who has lived in the trailer park for 30 years.

peggy-beaulieu-myrtle-manor

Both shows, of course, have complicated love stories along the lines of boy-loves-girl, girl-likes-other-boy, boy-pees-in-girls-bed, girl-moves-out (that plot might just be exclusive to Myrtle Manor). There are weddings and other celebratory occasions, including a Miss Myrtle Manor beauty contest (which, by all rights, Miss Peggy should have won, in my opinion).

So, put aside your fancy china cup of Earl Grey, fix yourself a tall Tupperware tumbler of sweet iced tea and settle in for an episode of Welcome to Myrtle Manor.  TLC isn’t really all that different from PBS after all.

welcome to

So When Are You Two Kids Getting Married?

I am such a cliché.

That was my first thought when I heard about the Census Bureau report on marriage and divorce rates, breaking the data down by region.

It’s like the Census Bureau only looked at one Census form – mine – and was able to write a whole report on marriage trends.

 “The report, from the U.S. Census, finds distinct regional differences, with states in the Northeast having the lowest marriage rates and lowest divorce rates for both men and women, and states in the South having the highest.”

“In the South, people tend to marry earlier and often have less education, both of which increase divorce risk, a Census official says. Those in the Northeast tend to have more education and marry later.”

Except, Virginia, my state of residence, is not really in the Northeast, despite my geographic idiocy and continued insistence on referring to everyone up here as “damn Yankees.” Virginia had the highest rates in the DC metro region for both marriages and divorces. So in that way, my cliché hypothesis doesn’t hold up, but since I consider the DC region to be the northeast, allow me to continue.

I, originally from Texas, married my first love at the ripe old age of what, 21, I think? I was divorced by 24. At that time, I had a high school diploma to my name, and a trailer park upbringing complete with two parents (one I knew, the other I didn’t) who have both been married four times a piece (and counting). Those two really like that wedding march song.

I moved to northern Virginia in 2002, with a bachelor’s degree firmly clutched in my ambitious little paws. I met the love of my life, moved in together, and got my master’s degree soon after. And, while the Census says an educated couple like us will get married later in life and would be less likely to divorce, we’ve actually decided to opt out of that game. Neither of us wants to get married.

And, apparently, a lot of other Americans feel the same way.

“As a whole, marriages are now at a record low, with just 52 percent of adults 18 and over saying they were joined in wedlock, compared with 57 percent in 2000, according to census data released last September.”

Yep, seems that more people are avoiding “the marriage fog” entirely and just shacking up like me and my domestic-bliss-partner, XFE. (I love this headline by the way. I love it so much I want to not marry it.)

“[Relationship author] Whiddon said after the third or fourth year of matrimony, couples often enter what he calls “the marriage fog.” That’s about the time when all the feel-good chemicals that surge through your body when you’re newly in love sputter and die.”

Wow. That sounds just AWESOME. “Sputter and die?” No more feel-good chemicals? That kinda blows.

Separate beds are so not sexy.

Then there’s this other thing altogether called “stayover relationships.”

“A recent study from the University of Missouri-Columbia found that ‘stayover relationships’ are a growing trend among college-aged couples who are committed, but not interested in getting married or moving in together.

Researchers examined alternatives to fully cohabiting couples are spending three of more nights together a week and still maintaining their own homes, which could help to explain recent U.S. census data that indicates people are getting married later.”

That’s pretty interesting. Kids today. They’re just so cool and smart.