A Knight in Battered Armor

This is where i admit that i’ve a soft spot for people, men and women both, with a bit of grit. I’ve never been one for the pretty boy or the stately beauty. Show me callouses, scars, and the look in their eye that, in spite of all they’ve seen, they still find me worthy.

Those lists – the ones made by fashion and gossip magazines – of the hottest celebrities… Rarely do they show the kind of people i lust after. The millionnaire bachelor with his perfect cheekbones and professionally trained physique hold very little allure for me. Don’t get me wrong, i understand why others carry the torches. The aesthetic of the Hollywood-groomed woman, of the couture-suited man, they beg to be noticed. The ones who have acquired that old-style grace, and the ones with the dry wit… There is a reason they are PR’d that way… Because the masses love it.

The perfect bit of 5 O’clock shadow. The golden skin and curve of a silk and tulle clad breast. We all wish we had it – Either for ourselves or in the form of a lover. But to me, they have always rung as a bit fake. To say you’ve had a man with cut abs and  larger than life junk in his trousers… When i was young, i thought that was a great accomplishment. I thought it proved something about me. And i suppose it did.

It proved the shallowness and short-mindedness of youth.

Physical attraction is important. Yes, scientifically, it ensures the continued population of the species; but more importantly, attraction means sex. And sex is good for our physical and mental health. It’s one of God/Goddess/Universe’s greatest and funnest gifts. It is an affirmation of life. Or should be, when it is done well and with the right person.

Each of us has our own idea of the “right person”. What attracts us, engages us, and keeps us entertained is different for each person. One may like a chiseled face. One may like a muscular ass. Others are all about the hair. More power to them. As for me, i want someone whose face and body tell a story of survival, passion, and depth.

Show me the scar where he got his ass beat getting his best friend’s back. Show me calloused fingers where she worked her way up in a man’s world. But most of all, show me that look in their eye. Those eyes that have seen pain and joy. The ones that hold lust and wisdom. The ones that promise their heart if you can get thru to it. I want someone who has seen a lot, been thru a lot, and respects others who have done the same. THAT is someone who i can open up to and melt for. That is a degree of sexiness that won’t diminish with age, circumstance, or loss of limb.

I’ve always held this view, but it’s been made worse by binge watching Game of Thrones.  Too many sexy scar-bearers in that cast. And me, laid out on a lot of bedrest after some surgery… Filling my time by ogling them and getting wrapped up in the drama. (You think you’ve found the perfect fantasy character… Then they either get killed or do something terribly evil…. It’s a tease of volcanic proportions.) (If you think about volcanoes for a second… The waxing and waning of smoke, and the lava overflowing or not, depending on the whim of the gods… It makes even more sense.) 

Friends have told me for a long time now that i would love this show. It is the kind of epic fantasy that i devoured as a kid, but have less time for as an adult. After watching this series, tho, i think i need to start making time for it. No, i won’t get to ogle the sexy people as easily in a book; but a good writer brings that sense of duty, honor, and passion out in a way that is even more sexy. (And then you get to picture them in your head and make them your own… There is no bigger tease than the one we create in our own mind.)

And why am i writing about this today? A combination of too much rest (I’m not good at “resting”) and post-op narcotics, i suppose. This idea has been sitting in my draft bin for over a week, but i was afraid to publish it til i had been off the pain pills for a bit, lest i regret it in a literary “morning after.” The equivalent of waking up with your best friend’s little brother after a drunken dinner party. Except the brother has armor. And a sword. And a convoluted claim to a crown. And a scar across his cheek. And that look in his eye….

Oh my.

 

 

 

Don’t Tell Me

What would you think if i told you

I was scared?

That i’m afraid that all these plates i’m spinning will fall and

Crash to the ground

And everyone will see that i can’t

I can’t do it

Can’t perform, entertain,

Mesmerize

I’m not what they paid for

My circus, my pageant, my show is a

Sham

 

What would you think if i told you

I was  ashamed?

That i am hurt and anguished over all i

Haven’t done

Should have done

Couldn’t do

And embarrassed at the things

I did

For reasons that no longer seem sound

Or sane

And each day that goes by i grow more and more

Terrified

Of what i might do next

 

What would you think if i told you

I was angry?

That the world around me and everything in it

Fills me with disgust

And despair

That the hatred and meanness to fellow men

Makes bile rise in my throat and

My heart burn with tar

And sadness

And it pains me that i cannot fathom a way to

Remove it all

Without becoming

What i despise

 

What would you think if i told you

I was lonely?

That my soul is full of desperation for a connection

That my heart will not allow

And even tho i defeat my own purpose i am

Unable to stop the thorns

That grow around my core and

Protect it

Whilst destroying me

Knowing full well that there is no Prince

With gilded sword

Willing to hack them away for the meager treasure

That awaits

 

What would you think if i told you

I don’t care?

Or care too much?

Or am not even sure if those two things aren’t

One and the same

The line so fine that spiders

Think it delicate

The lace made of it

Forms a web in my skull encasing

The fly in my brain

Who has no choice but to succumb to the fangs

Of Reality

 

What do you think

If you think of me at all?

Does it make sense

Do i make sense

Or am i as alone, as shamed as i fear

Please no

Please no

Please know

Southern Summers and Sky Raisins

I know there are people who love summer. I used to be one of them. But as i’ve gotten older, my tolerance for the unrelenting heat has reached as close to zero as it can get without me being forced to never leave the house.  It doesn’t help that i live someplace that routinely exceeds every record high i ever experienced where i grew up. As early as May Day, we are hitting weather here that would be a mid-summer beach day back home.

Granted, winters here are milder. We usually get one snow a year that exceeds a couple inches. Nothing remotely blizzard-like, and rarely does it last more than a few days. I haven’t needed a proper pair of snow boots in decades, and the crocus are popping up before the asters are even dead. But i’d gladly give that up to not have to worry about boob sweat on Easter.

The heat leaves me, and many others, rather lazy during the day. As beautiful as the sunshine is, most of us have no desire to do yard work, go out on the town, hike the hills, or even walk the dog when it’s 90-100 degrees. Instead, we sit on the couch, wishing it were cooler, and watching the pooch catch the one sky raisin that always manages to get in the house. You don’t have to get bored. There are always chores to do, crafts, books…. But it seems like such a waste during the time of year generally reserved for vacations and cook-outs.

Once the sun goes down, it is easier to venture out. Of course, we’ve had a particularly rainy season as of late, so before you go out, you must bathe in bug spray. The mosquitos are vicious, and they travel in gangs that are larger and more bloodthirsty than any in the movies. Forget the DEET or Off! and you could quite possibly need a transfusion. Or at least a Benadryl and a steel wool scratching post doused in Lidocaine. But don’t let that ruin your love life. Go on the date, walk our beautiful downtown, and remember that woody / citrus fragrances like Chanel No 19 are the best compliments to L’eau d’Insect Repellent.

Lest i sound like an unreasonably sour woman, there is one upside to southern summers – At night, i can crack my window and listen to the music of the night. In the winter, i have to pay for the symphony of cicadas, tree frogs, and owls that lulls me to sleep. This time of year, it pipes in my windows for free, along with the frequent sound of rain and thunder passing thru. Your whole soul is soothed by the sound of a southern summer night. No app of music stream comes close. It is unparalleled in its aural beauty and majesty. And it almost makes the heat worth it.

Anyway, it’s back to my puzzle for now. I might even start a new painting. And i’ve a book waiting by my chaise.  But first, i will open the door and poke my head out onto the steaming porch – If for no other reason than to let in another sky raisin for SiriDog.

Hey. she needs entertainment, too.

 

Mae West, Annie Oakley, and Momma Hol

While browsing thru some of my favorite websites this morning, i stumbled upon an interesting discussion about feminism. Avital Norman Nathman and Mayim Bialik have opposing views about an Instagram post of Amber Rose that was taken down almost as fast as it was put up. I have not seen the photo, but apparently it featured Amber, bottomless, oiled up, and showing her pubic hair. Amber felt it was a feminist post. Avital agrees. Mayim isn’t so sure. Avital feels it is reclaiming the female body from the patriarchy. Mayim feels it is playing into the patriarchy. It’s a great thing to watch: Two educated and passionately feminist women disagreeing in a respectful and thought-provoking way. (Hey, Washington, pay attention! You might learn something!)

Opposing views of feminism from Grok Nation

In any case, it got me to thinking, what kind of feminist am i?

Nearly 30 years ago now, i was halfway thru my Bachelor’s when i took a class in Feminist Political Theory. There were maybe 20 of us in the class, and only 3 or 4 were men. There were career women, older returning students, and proto-goths who were re-inventing the hippie life. I  was married at the time, to a man, and frequently came to class with my baby in a sling, strapped to my chest. I stood out. And in a very awkward way.

Every class was a discussion about a specific matter of importance to the feminist community: Education, health care, infant mortality, sex crimes… Followed by a discussion on how our foremothers fought for and dealt with these issues throughout history. I didn’t enter into the discussions much. My situation was much different from the others’, and a lot of their fires seemed abstract to me in my situation. Not to mention, i wasn’t sure how i would be taken…

… Until one day, one of my classmates used me as an example of victims of the patriarchy. I did speak up to that. And i continued to speak and share my point until i felt i was making the others think about their hypocrisy. I got married of my own free will. I had a choice with my pregnancy, and i chose to become a mom. And i made my own choice not to leave my daughter in day care when i didn’t have to. Wasn’t that what feminism was supposed to be about? Allowing us to make our own choices in the same way that men do? I mean, i am hardly old-fashioned, and was even less so then. I refused to be painted as a bad guy, and was disappointed that few could see my side.

At the same time i was taking that class, i was working on a thesis about the importance of the Madams of the Old West. How, because they were frequently the only ones with money, they often took on tasks of banker, city advocate, and philanthropist. They knew that what women had, and men did not, was the singular power of sex. And they used it to their advantage. And their pocketbooks. They were businesswomen, and generally feminist women, besides (For the time period, anyway). The sheriff and preacher might rail against the evils of prostitution, but when the city was broke and the children needed medicine, they knew the painted ladies would help. (Then, after the fear and need were gone, they would run those same ladies out on a rail.. But that is another story entirely.)

In later years, you saw some feminists aligning with prohibitionists – Because the evils of alcohol encouraged men to treat women poorly. Then others aligned with the anti-slavery cause – Because women knew what it was like to have no power, and wished that on no one else… Equality for all! (Ok, ok, there were other political motives as well, especially for the top brass of the movements… But i’m talking the bulk of the members here.) There was always more than one side. Always more than one movement. Feminists were never united except in most basic premise, even before the United States was an entity.

So why should it surprise us that we currently have divisions within the feminist movement?  And why should we feel that only one is “right”?

The women who opt to dress modestly to play down the sexualization of women are no less feminist than those who dress provocatively to take ownership of the female form. If you prefer to keep your legs shaved, you shouldn’t be booted out of the cause for your trichophobia. The woman who has always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom is no less than her career sisters simply because of that aspiration. And that’s not even including the color issues, the trans issues, and all the other subsets of feminism. I’m pretty sure there’s room for all of us.

And we are all valid.

Truly, you don’t even have to be female. By definition, all you have to do is believe that women and men deserve equal rights and equal opportunities. And every father i know, if they didn’t believe it before, believed it once he had a daughter. (You may know someone who doesn’t. Heck, you may even be that someone. But i hope someday you change your mind. Subjugating women, or anyone for that matter, is rarely a helpful idea.)

As i read in the news earlier this week, in this day and age, there should be no laws left that start with the phrase “A woman shall not…, ” because if a woman shouldn’t, a man shouldn’t either. And if a man can, why can’t a woman?

For my fellow women, why can’t we accept each others’ choices and expressions of feminism, even if it isn’t ours? I have a daughter who doesn’t shave her pits. It isn’t my gig, and i’m still not used to it… But i respect her choice.

Shaved or not. Reveling in your sexuality, or taking a more modest approach. Lesbian commercial fisherman, or Pioneer Momma wannabe. Avid painter of flowers, or avid painter of labia. Vocally political, or only vocal at your daughter’s rugby games. We all have something to bring to the table. As long as we all stand for equality, we should be able to stand together when it counts. And, hopefully, we will be able to stand with others as well, since we know how hard bucking the establishment can be. Sometimes it takes every available hand. And even then, it may still take a century. Or two. Or more.

So, what kind of feminist am i? Well, that continues to evolve. As i speak with more feminists of color, more feminists with different backgrounds, different experiences, different views, i am forced to confront things that i hadn’t taken into account. And as i talk to more emotive men, i am also forced to confront some of the backwards limitations that we put on our male counterparts. We can’t move forward if we don’t bring them with us.  (Think about how many posts you have seen about body positivity featuring females. Now think of how many you’ve seen featuring men…. Yes, they’ve traditionally had the upper hand, but not all men get all benefits.)

So lets talk about it. Hear what each other has to say. See if we can work together. Consider it practice… For when things really get equal, and we are taking up half of Capitol Hill.

Lets get the discourse going now. There’s a lot to be done, and it’s going to take all of us.

 

As i went thru spell-check on this document, i found it rather ironic that it marked the word “sexualization”, but had no replacement. 

 

I Am Isis

I miss being a badass.

There was a time when i felt like i was capable of anything. I was strong: physically, mentally, spiritually. I was fearless. I was on a warpath to make things better. An everyday superhero with an invisible goddess cape and Lynda Carter’s boots. Except mine were silver instead of gold. I always did prefer silver.

I knew what was right. And what was best. I was powerful. And i was a part of the Special Forces that was going to set the world to right. Seriously. Don’t laugh. I was. I really was. I was Chuck Norris with tits.

I’m not sure what happened. One morning i woke up and put on an outfit of mom jeans instead of my kevlar bustier. Left my amulet behind and took my cell phone instead. I got so involved in the boring shit of daily life that i forgot i was supposed to be part of the Justice League.

Over time, i forgot how to deflect bullets. I stopped training. I lost my thirst for a cause. My biceps became bat wings, and the cape and boots moved to the far back corner of the closet.

My weedlings are badasses. My oldest has a searing sword for those who would stomp on the rights of others, especially her sisters. My middle daughter has an internal fire of the type the Navy used to tell us just to push overboard, as it was too fierce to fight; and it burns hottest for those who cannot fight for themselves. My son is still Robin, wanting a cause, but still learning his place in the Real Live Comic Book Realm. They are awesome.

Somewhere along the way i became Alfred.

Not that Alfred is a bad thing to be. The world needs Alfreds. I just miss being a Shero.

I know it is still in there – Hidden in the deep recesses of my mind. I can pull a Molly Weasley and crush any bitch who would threaten my children. (Sorry, you Marvel fans. Molly is a Superhero. End of argument.) I will kick your sorry ass with my sensible penny loafers. I burn your thin skin with my menopausal heat. I will smack you with my bat wings like a bad, bad donkey, til you’re begging for mercy and embarrassed as hell that you got beat by an old broad. I will.

I’m out of practice –  i’m not dead.

But in spite of that, i still miss the presentation, the aesthetic of my badass self. I miss feeling strong and sure and champion. I miss that confidence, that rogue. I need to steel my thighs, center my mind, tighten up my hi-Helen’s, pull my SuperSuit from the closet and duct tape my fluffy self into it. There are things that need doing in this world, or at least in my life, that i can tackle. I can fight. I can win. And i can do it with style. I just keep forgetting, and real life takes over.

Momma Hol is pretty cool, but there used to be a deeper truth. Well, there still is. It has just been slumbering, it isn’t gone. Now that i need it again, it’s time to wake it up.

After all, my friends don’t call me The Mighty Isis for nothing.

 

 

What To Do When You Find Yourself Accidentally Almost Bald

So, the faux hawk wasn’t growing out well. Because of my cowlicks, it wouldn’t stand straight up without looking like Kid ‘n Play. And if i tried to lay it down, it looked oddly lumpy. Still not time for my next hair appointment. So i grab the clippers that i got to clean up my back hairline. I strap on the #8 guard (Which is an inch and a half). Mind you, the hair on the sides and back is short enough that the blades don’t even touch it. But as i get further up to the top, it starts coming off with a pleasing buzzy sound.

When i get to the front, i don’t push the clippers all the way to my head and instead leave a bit of a forelock.

I look down in the sink, and realize exactly how thick my hair is. Even just this trim has a HUGE ball of hair sitting there, staring at me like something from a Sesame Street sketch. I half expect it to jump out and shout “Mah-na! Mah-na!” I leave the almost-muppets be for the moment and hop in the shower to wash off all the scratchy little hair bits.  Then i break out my makeup mirror so i can see the back of my head better. Oops! there’s a bushy spot. Gotta fix that.

Plug the clippers back in and take them to my head. One stripe. Two.

Ut oh. That wad of hair looks way too big to be what i was aiming for. I mean, it was only a little uneven, and this looks like a granddaddy dust-bunny.

Oh, no. I couldn’t have. I mean, did i? Please, God, no. Hesitantly, i look at the clippers.

I had taken the guard off.

Oh, shit.

Oh, SHIT!

I run back and grab the mirror again. Too hard to see for sure…. Or maybe i just didn’t want to believe it.

Grab my phone and try to take a selfie of the back of my head. After 20 or 30 tries, i finally get something usable.

OH, SHIT!!!!

The back of my head looks like there are two well-used slopes open at Telluride.

To keep myself from hyperventilating, i close my eyes and take a couple deep breaths. I imagine my happy place: A cafe in Palermo, Sicily. Cannoli, Arancia candita, Sigaretti, Cassatelle, Marzipan…. Aaaahhhh. I open my eyes and look in the mirror again.

Any takers on the next word to come out of my mouth?

I allow myself a few seconds to mourn. Then i pull myself together because, really, the only thing i can do now is even it up and paint it purple so it looks somewhat intentional.

I snap the number one guard on and buzz the back of my head and around my ears. Then i jump up to the three guard and do the sides and top, pulling it longer in the front. Back into the shower to rinse off.

My scalp can feel the breeze of the ceiling fan.

A moment of truth as i take a peek at the back of my head again.

The scalp streaks are still there, but not quite as noticeable. There are still a  couple spots that i would like to touch up, but i’m afraid i will make it worse if i keep messing with it. I mean, i’ve only got 1/4″ of hair left on most of my head… I can’t risk cutting off more!

Please, God, let tomorrow be national cowboy day, so i have an excuse to wear a hat.

Pleading for a good response, i take a picture of myself and send it to a couple of select people. They tell me i look like a pixie. Because i only showed them the front. From the back? It’s more like a pixie that went to boot camp, and unfortunately got the new barber…  The day after he graduated from Trump Barber School.  I got some “Whoa”s, and some “Oh, wow”s. My stylist was less than pleased, and i don’t blame her, but even she  came up with some positive remarks. And everyone reminded me that my hair grows really fast.

Then terror sets in, because tomorrow is Friday and i have to work.

I send a note to my closest coworkers and forewarn / threaten them not to laugh.

**********

The next morning, after deciding that it wasn’t work-appropriate for me to show the amount of cleavage it would take to make the hair unnoticeable, i put a little extra effort into my makeup and pick an outfit on the more feminine side (Well, for me, anyway). I practice my casual everything-is-coming-up-roses walk to fake some confidence. I am trying to own it, but i am failing miserably.

I should have gone with the cleavage.

At first, nobody says anything. Then a couple of the women tell me they kind of like it. Not so much praise as to make me think they are lying thru their teeth, but enough to let me know it isn’t stylishly apocalyptic.

Man, i love my coworkers!

**********

Two days later, and the bald spots are starting to fill in. I’ll bet i can #1 guard the back tomorrow and it will at least all be even. This isn’t a style i’m likely to come back to. I mean, i scared the crap out of myself walking past the mirror this morning, because i thought i was a maniac burglar.

But hey, i set out a couple weeks ago to spice things up a bit. A mostly shaved head is the style equivalent of scotch bonnet peppers, so at least i exceeded my goal.

And really, if i can learn to rock the accidental shaved head, i’d be one hell of a badass, now wouldn’t i? Maybe this is God/Goddess/Universe’s way of telling me that i have more strength than i thought. Maybe this is to help me learn to command myself. Maybe she is telling me to worry less about my looks.

Or maybe She’s just trying to tell me to stay away from sharp objects.

Let Us Eat Cake

I just took a cake out of the oven.  It smells like heaven (Assuming heaven is a bakery…. Which isn’t a bad assumption…) It’s a bit of an experiment, this cake – A plain vanilla cake mix, adulterated with mango and coconut water. I have plans for a coconut icing on the top. My mouth is watering at the scent of it. It smells like celebration. Like party. Like happy. And it begs the question, “What’s the occasion?”

I have a number of answers i can give to that question.

I’ve been on my back most of the week with a wonky neck. Today i managed to spend most of the day on my feet without a painkiller. That is worth celebrating.

I have young family members and important friends who have graduated this week. That is worth celebrating.

My son did great on his (Freshman year of high school) report card, and my oldest, the florist, pulled off the flowers for a wedding on a very limited budget – And still made them look rich and gorgeous. Those are both things worth celebrating.

It is Pride Month. Everyone who is gay (or just  “not straight”) is celebrating the gradual obliteration of closets.

It is Ramadan. My Muslim friends are celebrating their holiest of months.

I went to the store today with no makeup on. (That is HUGE for me – and worth at least a small “You go, Girl!”)

In spite of steroids, i only consumed one “normal” portion of ice cream today.

In spite of 5 days of steroids, and many obscene portions of ice cream, i have not ballooned.

It’s Robert Fulghum’s birthday.

My oldest is coming over to have dinner with me tonight.

On this day in 1919, congress passed the 19th amendment.

Betty White is still alive and kickin’.

I would like to say that i managed to make a bundt cake that came out of the pan totally in tact. That would truly be a monumental feat and worthy of celebration. But it has never happened. For anyone. Ever.

Regardless of the evil of bundt, give me some time and i could come up with lots of other things worth celebrating. But the truth is, sometimes the cake itself is the occasion. Sometimes you just have to celebrate living . The sounds of birds in the morning. The smell of roses after a rain. The perfect cup of coffee.  The joy of baby goats. Or puppies. Or kittens. The feeling of accomplishment when every towel in the house is clean and folded and in its proper place. It’s just life. Nothing special. And yet, special enough.

Special enough for cake.

Come, friends… Celebrate with me.