Her alarm clock blares. Her eyes peer open. She blinks several times to confirm her reality, it’s morning. She stumbles to the restroom, sits down on the toilet, removes her hair wrap, and massages her temples. She fumbles in the dark, brushes her teeth, and pulls on her latest acquiesce, Lululemon stretch pants. She’s up. Pulling into her latest commitment, well before traffic begins. She imitates her instructor, and squeezes-and-holds, and squeezes-and-holds, and squeezes-until she glances down to her manicured hands shaking in her tightly clinched fist. She counts 4-3-2-1 until she’s relieved from plank position. She turns her feet out under the barre, opens her knees, as she pliés toward the ground, she holds the barre tightly and leans the weight of her body behind her. She drowns out her instructor’s voice singing along, “I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist, like it doesn’t exist.”
And just as she begins to doubt why she tortures herself before dawn, she looks at the woman beside her, and squeezes a bit tighter, her butt and thighs at war. She stretches her neck for a moment of relief, and peers over her shoulder to witness the morning sky breaking with light.
She closes the door to her car, starts the engine, and cranks up the volume, “Baby, I love the way that there’s nothing sure. Baby, don’t stop me, hide away with me some more.”
As her elbows bend, and her hands fly upward toward her ears, she breaks into her best rendition of The Carlton Dance. She pulls into a parking space, walks in the door, grabs her favorite coffee mug, sits at her desk and begins her morning ritual.
As she throws her oatmeal bowl in the trash, her colleagues scurry through the door. She’s been working for at least an hour. She’s in her morning meeting, early enough to grab her favorite chair, the chair that’s unsaid yet known that that is where she sits. The morning ends. She looks at the clock and opts for a bikini wax during lunch.
And then it hits, 3-freaking-PM, the hour that her blood sugar drops so low she’s sure she’ll eat every Dorito in sight. Or bran muffin, or blueberry scone. Satan himself must rise at 3pm because why else does this happen to her every day at the same time. She elects for a sweetango apple, and convinces herself this crisp, juicy fruit is much better than corporate curves.
She looks in the mirror, serving fish face, and applies her orgasm blush. Her daily beauty struggle has reared its ugly head. Her Alfalfa stands erect, proud as ever. Using her fingers, a first attempt for her hair to obey, she contemplates a ponytail in a sweet surrender.
A sweep of her signature lipstick, and she’s at happy hour laughing with the best of them. She nurses her glass of Malbec, and then takes a sip as she laughs harder at the jokes that aren’t funny. She’s eager to leave, but before she exits she hits them with her best 1-2-punchline, Kelly Ripa style. Her coworkers yield laughter. Today is her day.
Home, at last. She fiercely chops parsley and minces garlic tossing them into her pot of beans. She begins to season with red pepper flakes when her new favorite song comes on Pandora, who knew tootsie rolling to Sam Smith was so invigorating. She sings to the top of her lungs “I’m turning up the volume when you speak, ‘cause if my heart can’t stop it, I find a way to block it…”
Water rushes down her body, suds greet her feet. Her skin smells of cocoa butter and mango. A shower never felt so great. She throws on a silk blouse, glamorous yet comfortable, the perfect adieu to a hard day’s grind. Her boyfriend walks through the door for their Thursday night ritual. She looks at him knowingly, that this is love. As they eat their Red Beans and Rice, and “How To Get Away With Murder” embraces the screen, she looks around her kitchen and thinks to herself, not even Madonna works this hard.
Red Beans and Rice
1 bag red kidney beans
3 chicken bouillon cubes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1-2 tsp. Tony Sacheres
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 bunch of chopped parsley (remove stems)
1 package of smoked turkey (14 oz.) split in half lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Thoroughly wash red beans. And either, (1) cover the beans with water and allow them to sit overnight. Or (2) in a large pot, cover the beans with water and cook on low heat for 90 minutes.
Once your beans have softened, add chicken bouillon cubes, minced garlic, chopped onion and chopped parsley. Add your seasonings: Tony Sacheres, black pepper and red pepper flakes (if you like spicy food). Stir thoroughly.
Add turkey. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low-medium heat, and allow the mixture to simmer uncovered. Stir occasionally until the beans are tender, about 2 hours.
Serve over brown rice or quinoa.