Less Talk, More Action

What is wrong with you?

You don’t listen to the whole opinion before you declare it wrong:

A stomp on your rights.

A disgrace to our forefathers.

Closed to compromise and blind

To your own rhinoceros hide.

If you are so committed to your view,

What are you doing to help it come true?

 

What is wrong with them?

They are supposed to be representing us to the ersatz leader

In the Big White Building.

Huge conference rooms set aside for compromise and action

Plates of donuts and stale coffee

Aides and press and soundbites

But no change.

If they are really there to serve the public,

Why don’t they translate our anger into action?

 

What is wrong with us?

We are outraged on social media

Screaming at our inflexible friends who won’t hear compromise.

We post news articles and memes and

Send up thoughts and prayers for victims and families.

Crying as we hunch over our laptops.

Wishing things were different.

If we are so horrified at the atrocity

At the deaths,

Why aren’t we more involved in life?

 

What is wrong with me?

All these years of wanting to see change.

But work and weedlings and life took so much time

That i felt i had none to offer.

Now in my silver years, that is no longer an excuse.

I am intent on making change

In myself, to start

And have put in some effort to get involved.

I can’t do everything

But i can do something.

If i knew it was this important to give even a little,

Why has it taken me so long?

 

 

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Making the Rounds

I took today off from work because i had planned a barrage of routine medical appointments. I figured i might as well get them all over with at once.

Well, except for the oh-shit-do-i-really-have-to colonoscopy that was recommended. I’ll hold off on that until i need to lose 5 pounds fast.

My day started with my first routine physical in a couple of years. First stop: Height and weight.

The nurse asked me to hop on the scale. Because, you know, if she had just asked me my weight, i would have lied and made myself five pounds lighter. And apparently she knew this. Then she took my height. I have to say, i haven’t been this excited about growing 1/4 inch since before the Age of Disco.

I was forced to switch doctors for this exam, so this office and its staff had never met me. Had no knowledge of me whatsoever. It was good, in a way, because their opinions were gloriously unbiased. But on the other hand, because they had no knowledge of me, they didn’t know my norm.

“Ummm… That can’t be right. Let’s try the other arm.”

“Ummm… I still don’t believe it. Let’s try the first arm again.”

“I think something is wrong with the cuff. Let me try a different one.”

“I’m just gonna get someone else to try…”

I finally decided to speak up…. “You probably heard right. My heart rate runs low and my blood pressure runs high. But i feel wonky when it gets outside my usual range, and i feel fine now.”

She still got another one to take it. She shrugged when it only came up marginally lower and typed it into the record.

Next it was an ekg, which, as usual, takes five times as long to set up as it does to run.

“You sure you feel ok? Any fatigue or light-headedness? Your heart rate is rather low.”

“Yup. I’m good. I promise.”

“You must be in great shape. What do you do for exercise?”

“Ummm… A few sit-ups on my inversion table. And i just started learning to tap dance.”

This brought out a look of incredulity. Then, once she realized i was serious, she giggled. “You have blue hair, tattoos, and you are learning to tap dance. You are an interesting woman.”

Oh, if you only knew…

The doc comes in and starts putting her hands in places  that haven’t been felt up in far too long. It would be awkward and invasive except for the fact that  she is sweet and listening intently to my answers to her questions. This turned out to be pointless, since i realized at every point after that, that i had forgotten to give the staff half of the relevant information. Way to go, Ms Electronic Medical Record.

The rest of the day was a cavalcade of lab work, nurse questions, doctor pokes, and for the last thing, the recommended boob portraits. Because, you know, no woman’s physical is complete without squashing the shit out of her tits and taking a picture. (I wish they would send us snapshots on our phone. That way, when someone obnoxious asked for a nude pic, you could send him your mammogram as a passive-aggressive coup de grâce. It would be way more fun than just telling him to piss off.)

I survived it all.

And then i came home and tap danced.

At the end of the day, it is most likely my results will be as they usually are: Mostly healthy. And for that i am grateful. I can’t help getting older. And tho i don’t like it, it could be worse. What is worse than getting old? Getting old and decrepit. In spite of the aches and pains, the wrinkles and sags, and a blood pressure you’d expect from Ralph Kramden, i’ve got a ways to go before i get to the decrepit stage. My heart rate may be low, but my enthusiasm is high. It’s a good life. Even if i forget to tell them half of it.

 

Do These Words Make My Ass Look Small?

I won’t be bullied into going that road.

It’s a slippery slope that i’ve slid down before:

You get what you want and i

Get broken.

Each pitch off the edge taking a bite from

My ego, My pride. My self.

Your look that says,

“Your ass is mine.”

With a sexual bent devoid of feeling,

As if those vile words are a gift

That i don’t deserve.

I know you think i like it.

You think my silence is some kind of benign acquiescence.

A deliberate surrender.

An affirmative capitulation to your exemplary manhood.

But it is anesthesia, pure and simple.

The somnolence of cultural propaganda

The  paralyzing fear of loneliness and discord.

And your failure to see that tells me you are

To be trusted with neither my flesh

Nor my soul.

Your blind insistence that my ass is yours

Belies the truth that you are my ass:

The stubborn and id-driven

Schmuck

Who cares only for his own wants.

I’ve no need for a pack animal who refuses to carry

Any burden.

Any responsibility.

Any truth.

I am choosing not to be broken.

I am choosing not to be silent any longer.

I will be strong.

And true to me.

And your narcissistic self can

Kiss my ass in your mirror –

Which is the only place you’ll ever see it again.

 

From The Hair On Your Head To The Hair On Your Toes

So i’ve been reading a lot of articles on natural beauty. Part and parcel with the whole “Give up meat, use less plastic, be less fake” philosophy that has been growing on me. And it has me thinking… We women put a whole lot of money and effort into being “beautiful”, and even more so when we are trying to be “natural”, if for no other reason than “natural” products and services take more money and effort and to find.

I mean, i know there is a growing movement of women out there who don’t shave, wax, or pluck. I know plenty of women who don’t wear makeup. I know women who don’t care about their pores or their split ends or their scratchy heels. We are born with that hair on our legs, and our eyelids weren’t meant to be gold gilded. But most of us, when we talk about “natural beauty” are talking about doing the same beauty rituals we have always done, only with more earth-friendly products. Definitely better than mass-market beauty, and certainly better than the days of lead-based face powder and carcinogen-laden hair products. But still not really “natural”.

That being said, i can’t see myself going wholly “natural” regardless.

I DO care about the wrinkles over my lip and the lack of color in my cheeks as i get older. I DON’T like when my leg hair grows out and wiry spikes sprout halfway between my eyebrow and temple, like spearmint springing from the ground 3 feet from the rest of the herb garden. I DO like some opalescent sparkle on my face. And for the life of me, i can’t truthfully tell you why.

There is the age-old argument that we do it for men. But i will be honest here, even furless, accentuating my best body features, and spending time on makeup every morning, i still have no need for a social calendar. Dates come as rarely for me as oases spring up in the desert. So either the man theory isn’t true, or it just ain’t working.

Then there is the argument that we are brainwashed by the media. I grew up loving fashion magazines. I still do, tho i get a bit depressed at the lack of older women in them. And i take the photos with a grain of salt. We all know that these images are unrealistic; the models genetically gifted, and photo-shopped within an inch of their lives. I know that i can’t wear a dress to work that contains an actual, living fish. And no one wants to see my ass hanging out of my 3-inch rise dress slacks. But even still, i love the photography, the artistry, and the illusion of grandeur… Even if i will never master the Manolo-esque stiletto.

So maybe i do it because it is ingrained in me. Growing up, all the women in my life de-fuzzed, dyed their hair, and worked hard to look comely. Very few went without makeup, and even fewer let their grey hair or pit hair run wild. So it isn’t like i had a bunch of earthy-crunchy women setting the standard. I have to say, tho, that no one in my family ever barked at me for whatever macquillage i was sporting at any stage. When i took to wearing men’s clothes, or all black, or my combat boots with everything, my family accepted it. When my hair was short, blue, and combed into a perfect DA, my family made no more notice of it than they did when it was long and the black of my youth. Truth be told, my family has been supportive of nearly all of my appearance conventions – The lone exception being my decision, after 40, to let my white hair grow out. That caused all kinds of controversy.

Nothing having to do with me, i think; and everything to do with it making others feel old.

So why, then? Why do i do what i do to alter my appearance? Is it any of those things i mentioned? Is it all of those things i mentioned? I think it is at least partially the latter; and not just for me, but for all women. After all, it’s not like we see the bulk of men worrying about the sparseness of their eyelashes. Or giving themselves bunions and broken sesamoid bones so they can rock a slut shoe. Or paying money to have someone rub acid on their face, in hopes it will make them look 10 years younger. Hell, men score extra points just for wearing the right amount of cologne. So, obviously, there is a gender bias.

But even knowing that, i can’t imagine myself not going to at least some length of primping.  I can’t imagine being comfortable in public with a completely unadorned face unless forced. I can’t imagine going to the beach unshaved and not worrying i looked like i was smuggling rabbis under my arms. I can’t imagine going out on a (painfully) rare date and not putting in some effort…

Wait…

Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s the act of putting in effort. Not necessarily what i do to make myself look “my best”, but the fact that i am willing to go to lengths. For my (phantom) date. For my coworkers. For myself. Proof that i care enough to do something. I do less now than i did when i was young: I no longer spend an hour on my makeup, and if a shoe isn’t comfortable, i won’t wear it. (Unless it’s for Liam Neeson. I’d wear them for Liam Neeson.) So i guess you can say that the amount of effort is relative. If you are male or female, young or old, city born or country raised, meeting a mere mortal or meeting Liam Neeson; the bar for acceptable effort moves.

I know that we as women should be content with the lot God/Goddess/Universe gave us. He didn’t make me to look like a model for a reason. Maybe because GGU knew that, as depressing as it is thinking no one is looking at you, it is far worse to think everyone is looking at you. Even if i get caught at the market with jacked up hair, the number of people who will find out is only marginally larger than the single digit number of people who will give a damn. If i had the level of objective beauty i pine after, my bad hair day would become the conversation piece for more blogs and websites than my ego could handle.

Thank you, Universe, for not making me a starlet.

So back to my original thoughts… Tho buying cosmetics that are made of beet juice and and free-range, wild-harvested sea grass is better for the environment than the chemical compounds marketed by the taste makers, i’m not sure it’s any better for our psyche. The implied message is still that we need this stuff to be “pretty enough”. And while it may be true that there are very few “natural beauties” in this world, each of us possesses our own “natural beauty”. Yes, we are all beautiful in our own way. Even unshaven and un-powdered and unadulterated. The Universe and the ones who love us see that beauty, and any adornment is unnecessary. Heaven only knows if we will all learn to see ourselves that same way, to love ourselves as we are and do the primping just for fun. (Tho i can’t imagine anyone waxing just for fun. That shit hurts!) And would it still be fun if it wasn’t considered more beautiful? I don’t know.

As for me, i know better than to think i’ll ever get to that point. I get more comfortable with myself with each passing year, but i doubt i will ever be satisfied. I will likely always strive to be more. Because, you know, there’s always that slim chance i could score a date.

I’m still holding out hope for Liam Neeson.

 

Have You Met My Son, Black+Decker?

I am dirty. Like, literally. I am covered in dirt and leaves and twigs and sweat. My deodorant gave out about 30 minutes ago, and i just pulled a little spider out of my hair. All that, not including a couple minor injuries… And i feel wonderful.

The first warm day in ages. Granted, in a couple of months, this will be considered cold; but after weeks of hard freeze and some snow, my son and i are both in short sleeves and bare feet as we revel in the sunny outdoors. (Well, truthfully, i’ve been reveling for a few hours. My son only came out when i finished my part and gave him no choice but to do his.) Because it is almost time for the palmettos to come out of their winter hiding, i took the opportunity to get all their food – the aforementioned leaves and twigs – raked and blown to the curb. Of course, this is at least the 6th time i’ve done that this season. Hopefully it will be the last. I have far too many deciduous trees in my yard, including one hickory whose nuts are the bane of my existence, but i am loath to cut them down. Trees are so majestic and mistreated that i can’t bring myself to take them out just because i am too lazy to deal with the leaves (and nuts.)

The nuts… Good Lord… If there isn’t a chipmunk city in my yard, i can’t imagine why. That tree produces enough in a year to make nut condos for every small, furry mammal in the neighborhood. In the summer, i find them half buried in my planters where they are being squirreled away for winter. And stepping on them is almost as bad as a Lego. But this time of year…. Oy…. Strewn about the side yard, it’s a bit like a roller skating rink, except the wheels are on the ground instead of your footwear. Twice today i did the cartoon can-can when they caused me to lose my footing. Legs and arms in all different directions, once being “saved” by body-slamming the shed, and once by falling forward into what was meant to be a push-up, but became more of a belly flop.

Then there is the little matter of bushes and corners. These are, of course, the explanation for the dirt in my eyes, the twigs in my hair, and the leaf mold setting up like cement in my nostrils. I know my life would be easier if i’d just rake or pull the leaves out from the corners and that little strip between the bushes and the house… but that seems a step backward from the leaf blower. I keep telling myself that i am smart enough at math to find just the trajectory to aim the air stream where the leaves will shoot out from the corner in a perfect arc and land in a neat pile away from the house.

I am, apparently, not that smart.

Instead, about a quarter of the leaves blow away from the house, a quarter blow at me, and the other half ends up, inexplicably, back up against the wall behind me. It was one of these frustrating moments that gave me my first ego-blow of the day. Backed up against the drain, battling a whirlwind of yard flotsam,  i look up and see my neighbor laughing at me thru his window. I wanted to yell something snarky, but i couldn’t open my mouth without choking on flying ivy. Instead, i shot him a “Come on! Cut me some slack!” face, and he mouthed a chuckling apology before ducking out of sight.

At the last leg of my chore, i see the mail man drive up to the post box next door. This caught my attention because, as Vernon Dursley says, “There is no post on Sundays.” Now, in my head, i know being distracted while using yard tools is a no-no, but the sight of the mail truck didn’t distract me quite enough to make me stop and turn off the leaf blower. Instead, i kept on blowing and slowly moving backwards while my eyes stayed glued to the truck and my mind wandered.

Right about the time i figured it must be an overnight delivery, my heel caught on a wayward weedbush. As i went ass-over-teakettle, something in my wonky brain made me hang onto the leaf blower like it was a newborn baby. And when i landed with a thud in the damp earth, the damned thing was still cradled to my chest, with its hard plastic snuffle extension perfectly positioned between my face and the ground, motor whirring in my ear as if it were Peewee Herman screeching sweet nothings. I sat up just in time to see the mailman, having turned around in the cul-de-sac, staring at me from the road, a look of horror on his face.

At first i thought the look was because he was worried i was hurt. Then i realized my t-shirt was clear up to my armpit on one side, as if i were nursing my leaf blowing baby.

I turned the machine off, threw the postman a little salute, pulled my shirt down, and told my son it was his turn.

So now he is finishing the last quarter of the chore. I am on the porch, still barefoot, enjoying a cold drink and hoping against hope that i can move my arms tomorrow and wondering how long it will take to get all the dirt out of my nose. The polish i put on my fingernails yesterday is a little worse for wear. I can feel the layer of grime on my skin. My eyes and head are already aching because i didn’t take an allergy pill first. And i can feel that i have leaves in places i shouldn’t.

But the sun is still up. It is still warm. The yard is looking better. I just found out that i burned about 700 calories. All my other chores are done.  And, since i started my day making a wonderful vegan ragu, i have a great meal coming up in about an hour.  I feel accomplished and content.

So yes, i am dirty and sore and a little bit battered. I lost a bit of my dignity to the neighbor and the postman. And i will be looking for more spiders in my hair all night. But those things pale in comparison to all the good i get from working outdoors. There is no anti-depressant like a warm, sunny day in the middle of winter. There is no chore as fulfilling as ones that get dirt under your fingernails. And there is no sleep as deep as the kind you get after a day of yard work.

Tomorrow may be a bitch of a Monday, but today was glorious.

 

 

Next Week, It May Be Pink

So, i’m in Ulta killing time while my son shops for comic books. I notice they are having a great deal on some Urban Decay lip glitter, so i am trying the testers to find some colors for my oldest daughter who embodies that Urban Decay look. When i see one that i can’t find the tester for, i ask the salesperson. She points out one that would look good on me. So i explain that these are for my daughter… I am far too long in the tooth to be wearing that kind of statement lip color.

“But, ma’am…” She says, with a duh look on her face and a rather pronounced eye roll that you could almost hear, “You have purple hair.”

Ok, yes, i have purple hair. This week. It was blue last week. But that’s beside the point. My ultra-short funky-colored hair isn’t as noticeable as full-on silver glitter lips. Is it? I mean, wouldn’t that put it WAY over the top? I’d look like some sad woman trying to recapture her youth.

Right?

It’s a fine line between being a silver-age woman with independent and funky style à la Iris Apfel… And being a joke.

I’d prefer to be the former.

But truth be told, i am a bit of a joke. Case in point:

My son and i are watching his new favorite show, Designated Survivor. An ad comes on for some new drug, and as expected, at the end a bland male voice lists the common side effects: Fungal infections, false test results, elevated liver enzymes… And my son and i start adding on our own…

Excessive flatulence

Bad breath

Suspicious hoof growth

Elevated gas prices

Hermaphroditical tendencies (I swear he made that word up)

Lack of Christmas spirit

Inexplicable craving for hockey and cottage cheese

You can imagine the rest. We have so much fun with things like that, as nuts as that may seem. I know it is more expected to have a kind of Tom Hanks humor (Which we love, don’t get me wrong…), but in reality, my family is more Coen brothers and Eddie Izzard. Smart, dysfunctional, sometimes daft, sometimes sick. It’s the liquid in the glue that holds us together. Not surprising, i suppose, to anyone who reads me regularly. And probably adds credence to the purple hair and glitter gloss.

Or maybe not.

Maybe there is nothing that explains a 51 year old woman with purple hair. Glitter gloss or not. One who takes up tap dancing instead of joining a gym like normal people. One who, after raising three amazing weedlings, makes an effort to live life unapologetically. One who writes a blog saying a bunch of stuff that probably would better off if left in my head.

But then, the few of you who get it might not know you aren’t alone.

Besides, my head might explode from holding all this in.

And my weedlings, just like their Ma, aren’t the best at cleaning… I can’t leave them with that kind of mess.

 

 

The Iceman Cometh

I haven’t been writing much lately. I can blame it on any number of things: The holidays keeping me busy, wrenched my back again, transitioning to a new job at work, too tired, too cold, too too… But i’m not sure if any of those are the reason. Or maybe they are all-added-up-together the reason. It’s hard to tell. Winter is always harder for me. For all of us really. And in spite of taking my extra Vitamin D, i’m having a hard time forcing myself to be thoughtful and productive.

Granted, having spent most of the last month treating yet another back injury hasn’t helped. Momentum creates momentum. Energy creates energy. So laying on heating pads, or even dangling from my inversion table, is hardly likely to give me enough get-up-and-go to get thru more than the bare essentials of the day. But things did start to improve once i realized i was defeating myself.

I had painkillers left over from my neck surgery, so i was using those in conjunction with all the usual fixes: Rest, ice, heat, aspirin, muscle relaxers. But the problem was, when the narcs wore off, the pain seemed worse than when it started. (Yes, i already knew that was how it works, but when you are in pain, you forget everything you’ve learned that might keep it from going away. ) So after a few days, i stopped taking those. Within 24 hours, the pain had leveled itself, and i was able to move around some… Which has spawned improvement ever since.

But even physically doing better, my brain is still aching. And tired. I would say that the things which usually bring me joy aren’t working, but in truth, i haven’t had the will to try them. It’s an odd condition, to be honest. It’s like being confined by one of those electronic dog fences. There is no leash, no gate, no gunman manning the exit, but you keep telling yourself there’s no way out.

And of course, i sit here and intellectualize it. But even still, chances are, i still won’t break for the door this evening.

Many don’t understand the need to be self-confined. The old saying, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer…”  When you are your own worst enemy, self-confinement is often a necessary treatment. Unfortunately, like chemotherapy, the treatment causes its own problems and sometimes makes you worse.

I’ve been living with this wasp nest of a head for a long time, and i have amassed some amazing friends, so in my silver years, i am lucky enough to be called out before my self-imprisonment becomes a death sentence. This time, i was able to call myself out before they did it for me. (There should be a scout badge for that or something. For reals. The slippery slope of isolation is a real bitch.) I forced myself to a birthday gathering that i was ready to make an excuse for. And while i am sure that i was not the best of cocktail company, i am still proud that i went, instead of canceling and spending the night in bed with sudokus and a couple of melatonin.

And i am writing today. Tho this won’t make it to my Top Ten Posts Ever, it was effort and gets me closer to the other side of the fence. It is my hope that others who are also fighting the brain maggots get caught up in solidarity and take a step of their own toward the door, figurative or literal. If i can do it, so can they. Or you.

We’ve got this. One move at a time. Fake it til we make it, yes; but more importantly, make it for real after a while. I know, I know. It’s hard when it’s too blasted hot or cold (Depending on which side of the equator you’re on) to walk more than a quarter mile outdoors. When you’re broke from the holidays and feel fat from all the extra eating. It makes it worse. It sucks. But it isn’t going to win. You know how i know that?

Because we’ve got shit to do. We’ve got friends to meet, sunsets to see (I accidentally typed “sinsets” at first… And i’m thinking we could use some of that too!), trips to take, and impacts to make. Too many things ahead of us to give in to the mental Ice Man. It is so hard sometimes, tho. That alarm goes off in the morning and you think, “If i called in and knocked myself out, i wouldn’t have to deal with life for another 6 hours…” That is me. Every. Damned. Morning. Only my fear of falling back into that black cave, one i’ve been running from for years (How does it follow us? Is it really the mouth of a beast?) forces me to get up. But i do. And so do you. Yeah for us!

Like, for real. Yeah for us! We beat that beast!

So fuck the winter. Fuck pain. Fuck bills and scales and frigging Valentines Day on the way. Fuck all those things. We are our own army. We will slay it all in due time. One step at a time. And if we see a low point in that fence, lets jump it.

Sometimes, when you’re being chased by a beast, it is worth it hop the fence and outrun it for a bit. That interim between the jump and when it catches up with you is bliss.