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Hair, hair, beautiful hair…

Anyone who has known me for any length of time has probably known me mostly with short hair. I mean short. It is probably 3 inches long right now. The last time I grew it longer was when I was pregnant. I thought I would try out, again, having a bob. If I could have any hairstyle I would have this one:

1920s-hairstyles-2012-11

You would think my hair would be PERFECT for this style. It is stick straight, and very fine. I have one word for you: COWLICKS. A lock of hair that grows in a direction different from the rest and that resists being combed flat. I have them. Several. Four. One right at the top right corner of my forehead, defying any attempt at those beautiful, straight, even bangs. Siiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

I also have hair that looks HORRIBLE TERRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD when grown out long. I give you this:

me at age 9ish

I am roughly 9 years of age here. I had braces when I was 8 – 10 years or so of age. I love this picture for so many reasons. The glasses, the braces, the HAIR. The choker worn OVER the turtleneck. I mean the fact I was not a fashion model was a crime.

I digress. Hair. When fine, straight hair tortured by cowlicks is grown long, it is not attractive. It is the opposite of that. I have had some variation on short hair for most of my life as a result.

At various times in my dating life I had guys suggest I should grow it longer. “It is more girly.” “It is more feminine.” To which I would respond “IT IS UGLIER. YOU grow YOUR hair long you like long hair so much.” Or something like that.

But generally speaking I didn’t think I was making a political statement. I was making a fashion choice. Not always a good one, I did abuse the permanent a few times. So I was fascinated by this article in which the author discusses another article that I won’t link to but you can find it if you want. The short version is there is a person out there who has established, through thorough scientific study no doubt, that women with short hair are deliberately destroying their femininity to punish men, to make a political statement and are, wait for it, damaged emotionally. “Short hair is a near-guarantee that a girl will be more abrasive, more masculine, and more deranged.”

My first reaction was Hahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa**gasp**hahahahahahaaaaa.
Then I decided to go find this dude, this “author” and found the site the dude writes for, and I was first dumbfounded, then disgusted, then horrified, and now I am truly, genuinely dismayed. There are articles on this site that take misogyny to an art form. From articles like “How to land (and keep) a quality boyfriend” to “Don’t work for a female boss” to “The 15 magical years of womanhood” in which the author describes the prime years for looking good and making the most of your looks, as a woman, there seems to be no end to the close minded, wrong headed, chauvinistic jackassery they will write on this site. And these are just the articles written by THIS author. There are even more written by other “writers” who seem to know exactly how women should and do act, dress, procreate, as well as the evils of feminism, and the lies people are telling about rape.

At best I am hoping this site is kind of like a twisted badly thought out The Onion. A farce. But at worst, these people actually believe what they are writing. And other people are reading it and believing it. One article goes about detailing how 10% of children in this country are not fathered by the men the mothers are married to, but in fact, these women have cuckolded their spouses, and it was their vagina that betrayed them. There is a smattering of actual science stuck in between the idiotic and stupid things said in this article, lending just enough credence to the article that some people might actually believe most of what is written.

I am not sure what my point is, except that the internet has wrought so many wonderful things. Like Harlow, Sage and Indiana on Instagram, or the video of a mumuration. But it also has allowed any number of crackpots, or people with truly terrible intention to write and broadcast any amount of bullshit. And it ultimately interferes with us evolving as a species.

Now I need to cleanse my brain by looking at more pictures of those hilarious dogs.

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Sleep, a story in pictures…

Right before the new year I decided I would purchase a FitBit. I chose the Flex, which allows you to wear it like a bracelet or watch, but is less obtrusive and less inclined to try to eat your hand off than the Force.

The FitBit does several things I was interested in. Primarily I wanted to use it as a pedometer. It connects to your smart device, so you can see at any time how many steps you accumulate in a day. They recommend that you try to get to 10,000 a day. During the first week I averaged 5000, with one day hitting a max of 1600 or so. I realized I had gone to work, and then never left the second floor of our building for the next 8 hours. OBVIOUSLY I needed to boost my walking. Fortunately we have recently acquired a new treadmill, for which I am VERY grateful. I am happily marching my way to a minimum of 3000 steps in 30 minutes regularly now.

It also has a feature where you can track how much you eat in calories, so you can track your intake and weight loss goals. I was pretty good about inputting my info for the first few weeks. Now I haven’t for over a week. But having done that for a few weeks I realized that I was doing pretty well in terms of the number of calories I was consuming. In terms of my weight loss goals, the intake was not the problem as long as I continue to avoid things like FRENCH FRIES. Lord I do love french fries.

But the particularly interesting feature of the FitBit is that it will give you feedback about the quality of your sleep. You tap it to tell it you are going to bed, and then tap it again once you are out of bed in the morning, and you then can see a chart of how long you slept, and how often you were restless or awake.

fitbitphoto

This is a screen shot of 5 nights of sleep for me. The dark blue spaces are when I was asleep. The light blue lines are when I was restless and the pink lines are when I was awake.

I fall asleep within 7 minutes of lying down in general, says FitBit. I have stretches of being totally asleep. But look at all the light blue lines. LOOK AT THEM.

I am a very vivid dreamer. Always have been. There was a stretch of time when I lived with my parents as an adult child (the term boomeranger applied to me) just out of college. I would wake up and progress to tell my mother about the crazy dreams I had. She would look at me like how are you even awake right now.

According to research I have done, dreaming can happen during any sleep stage (there are four) but the most vivid dreaming usually occurs during the fourth stage, when REM or rapid eye movement occurs. This is accompanied by an increase in heart rate, brain activity and blood pressure. Surprisingly, it is also when your brain sends signals that temporarily immobilize or paralyze your muscles. I guess this might be self preservation in action. If you were to have some very vivid dream of driving a car and you were not immobilized, you might actually try to drive your car. My point is, if I am immobilized, I must not be overly restless WHILE dreaming if the dreaming is happening in the fourth stage.

Apparently you can cycle through the stages of sleep multiple times a night, and after the first time you move more quickly through the first 3 stages to REM sleep. What I am trying to understand from what my FitBit is telling me, is when and why am I so restless. I know part of my problem lately is that my shoulder, which I injured in the same fall where I twisted my ankle, is still bothering me. I have been in PT, and am progressing, but it often causes me pain during the night and I wake up enough to acknowledge it hurts and then adjust my position. But I don’t think that is all of it. Bob is not reporting to me that I am kicking or otherwise bothering him, so there’s that.

I find this all very fascinating even if it causes more questions than anything else. What I would love is if this little gadget could actually assess my brain waves while I sleep. All it is doing is monitoring physical activity. Maybe in the next iteration. Until then, I am up to 5440 steps already today and it isn’t even noon!

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A short list

I turn 50 this July. In light of my word of the day, focus, I present a short list of things I wouldn’t mind experiencing this year, in no particular order:

Hot air balloon ride

Blimp ride – Hood, Goodyear, it doesn’t matter to me. I just really like them 

Helicopter ride

Small prop plane ride/tour of something

Do you see a theme here? I do love the idea of flying. All of these might turn out to be completely terrifying. I have no idea.

An afternoon/sunset tour on a sailing vessel of a larger size. NOT a sunfish. Like a schooner out of Camden ME or Gloucester MA for example. 

Take a jewelry metal working class. 

Go to any of the following places: England, Ireland, Scotland. I have never been abroad except to visit our good neighbors to the north, Canada. I think going to a country that speaks, mostly, English, would be a good start. 

This list is incomplete, a work in progress. I refuse to call it a bucket list. If you call it that I will make you walk the plank during my schooner ride. 

 

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Focus…

I am not a big fan of resolutions. I am not a big fan of celebrating the new year. I have written about this before. I feel like what we do with resolutions we could and probably should be doing all year round. 

However, recently a blog I have been reading, Life With Roozle made the suggestion that we could choose a word to define what it is we would like to accomplish. I like this idea, not just because of the new year, but as something one could do regularly.

Focus. That is my word right now. Focus on the things that are really important to me. Refining that list to help bring things even more into focus. When you can define and focus, it makes other things easier. Maybe. Maybe it makes things harder. Like choosing what to do when you realize that the things you want to focus on are not the things you are required to focus on because of job, life, what have you. But that should help, even though it might be hard, to make some choices. Changes.

I recently read something to Cooper at bedtime about moths. The book is about insects. The kid likes a good reference book. It is genetic. The section started out by asking the question of why moths fly toward light. It didn’t actually answer that question. I haven’t googled it yet, so I am still unsure of the WHY. But what it did explain is why moths regularly seem to flap in never ending circles around lights.

It would appear that if light hits a moths eyes equally, the moth will fly straight at the light. If the light hits the eyes unequally, more in the right eye than the left for example, then the moth will fly in a circle to even out the light. But because this effort is much like trying to stop a table from wobbling by shaving a bit off of one leg, which leads to an endless amount of shaving off of other legs and never results in a non wobbly table, moths end up flapping in endless circles, in a never ending attempt to get an even amount of light in both eyes and fly straight.

I see this as a metaphor for focus. If we see something, a goal, a resolution, that thing we want to achieve in the distance, perhaps the most efficient, most proactive thing we can do is bring it into focus, keeping both eyes on the prize so to speak. Don’t look at it all side eyed, allowing yourself to get distracted by this or that or the other thing. By looking at it straight on, by really seeing it, bringing it into focus, we should have a better chance at achieving whatever it is we are focusing on.

Like my dad taught me when he was teaching me to catch a ball, watch it into the glove. Both eyes on the ball, all the way into the glove. Otherwise you risk distraction and dropping it or missing it.

I am mixing my metaphors but you get the idea. I am going to use Focus as my word, and try to keep my flapping around in circles to a minimum.

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Dancing around the edges…

My child is 7. He actually pays attention to the things he hears and sees and asks A LOT of questions. Recently we gave up cable TV. We use a Roku box to access a variety of online content, like Netflix and Amazon Prime. One day when he had watched all of the Big Time Rush there was to watch in the history of the internet, we began to surf around looking for something less mindless and I landed on a Discovery Channel show called Mammals, hosted by Sir David Attenborough.

Of course the show had to discuss the mating and reproductive habits of all of the mammals. Oh look, there is a water buffalo giving birth. Look at how that kangaroo’s baby has to crawl up into the pouch when it looks like nothing more than a large maggot.

Mommy, what does mating mean?

Mommy, what does going into heat mean?

Sir David has a lot to answer for. I am wondering if he is available to have the birds and the bees talk with Cooper because we are dancing around the edges of the conversation regularly now.

Yesterday we were on our way to ice skating lessons, and as usual I had NPR on the radio. It was a TED talk broadcast, and it happened to be performed by a Mali woman who was describing the rite of passage she had to endure. As I was driving I was only half paying attention to the radio, but all of a sudden I realized she was about to describe, in detail, female circumcision. CLICK and now we are listening to 92.5 our local independent music station.

Mommy, was that story over? Why did you change the station?

Yes, the story was over.

Don’t lie mommy. It wasn’t over. She was about to have a baby.

Really? What makes you say that?

She was talking about her leg and another woman opening up something and that usually means having a baby.

I think you are right. Hey, what was your favorite animal at the zoo today? Mine was the snow leopard. And the bats. Did you know that bats can eat three times their body weight in insects a night, and that some plants are only pollinated by bats? They wouldn’t exist at all if it were not for bats that feed on the nectar at night. And some bats help plants grow by eating their seeds, and then pooping out the seeds somewhere else in the forest. HA. I said POOP. (An endless supply of facts and statistics and a finely honed sense of what is funny to a 7 year old boy can come in VERY HANDY when trying to change the subject.)

He knows I had a cesarean section to deliver him, and that this involved cutting my belly open to deliver him. Apparently that was the only point of reference he had for interpreting what she was saying, and I am OK WITH THAT RIGHT NOW. He knows that women have eggs inside them that become babies, but he has no idea the mechanics of how that egg becomes a human being. And I AM OK WITH THAT RIGHT NOW.

But I know that it won’t be long before someone has to have The Conversation with him. Someone at school is going to say something, and rather than Cooper running around with a bunch of misinformation in his head about how babies are made, one of his parents is going to have to man up and explain it. I just wish it could wait a little longer. I remember very clearly having this conversation with my mother. I was in 3rd grade. I have no idea how horrifying it was for her to have it. I am sure once she reads this she will let me know. Hi MOM! While I am enjoying having a child who is older and more in charge of himself, I am not at all prepared for him to enter into the phase of life where there are hormones and bodies doing things and all that comes after this conversation.

But it is inevitable. I take seriously my job as his mother to deliver him to this world as a person who is well educated, well trained, respectful and caring. He needs to understand how things work, what is acceptable behavior and what will get him grounded for life even if he is 30 when it happens. So the conversation will happen eventually. I wonder if Sir David has an email address…

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Speaking your truth…

So here’s the thing…I know this young man. His name is Duncan. Duncan McAlpine Sennett to be exact. He has recently garnered himself a great deal of attention, both good and bad, by speaking his truth.

Duncan was recently Bar Mitzvah’d (not sure that is the appropriate tense) and as part of this celebration he had to give a speech on his Torah portion. As I understand it, you don’t get to choose your Torah portion, it is assigned to you based on your birth date. His portion dealt with the marriage of Jacob. Duncan used this opportunity to very maturely, eloquently and bravely state his views on the current state of marriage equality in America. You can see it here.

This video went a little viral. The count on youtube has the views at over 140,000. He has been on MSNBC. The speech as been in articles on Huffington Post and Yahoo, to name a few. It has been featured on websites in Europe. His speech hit a nerve.

Marriage equality is a hot topic. It is an important issue. I am a straight woman who is married to a straight man. But not too long ago in our history I would have been branded a jezebel, a whore, a fallen woman, because I was married once before, and we divorced. That alone would have put me on a path that would have me shunned in many social circles. The idea that I could then go on to get remarried would have been unthinkable.

But we don’t live in the dark ages, or 1950, any longer. I am fortunate that I am no longer limited by outdated and patriarchal rules. But marriage equality doesn’t stop there. There is a large percentage of our population who currently cannot legally get married in the state in which they reside because they want to marry a person of the same gender. I get to live in Massachusetts, the first state to recognize the legal right of two people of the same gender to marry. As far as I am concerned, when two legal, consenting adults want to bind themselves together legally, in front of God and everybody, they should be able to do that. AND they should be afforded the same rights and responsibilities as a heterosexual couple.

People will argue with that, for a variety of reasons, and that is OK. We can disagree. People will say that the Bible says this, or it says that, or it doesn’t say this or that. There is a lot of room for discussion, and ultimately you will have missed the whole point of Duncan’s speech if you get bogged down in THAT particular discussion.

The point he stood up for, and I stand with him on, is people deserve equal rights, in the eyes of the law. And when he spoke this truth, there was an amazing outpouring of support and admiration. There was also an amazing outpouring of hate and anger. As someone pointed out, the closer to the truth you get, the more hatred it can engender. But when all is said and done, this is a 13 year old young man who felt so strongly about something that he stood up at an alter and spoke it. I don’t know if he realized exactly what could happen, probably not, and I am not sure how he feels about it now. I know his mother and father and step father (my brother, in full disclosure) are there, supporting and defending him. But it has to be hard. To have put your truth out there, and to have people write hateful, threatening things in return has to make you question if you did the right thing.

Here is what I would have Duncan, and all of the Duncans of the world know: You did the right thing. Never ever ever let the threat of hatred and anger stop you from speaking your truth. I admire your strength of conviction and am proud to know a young man who is so smart and loving. I know good things will come from you being on this planet. Good things have already come from it.

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Needs more twinkle…

first christmas tree 2013

This is our tree as it looked the first time I finished decorating it the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We bought a new fake tree this year, as our previous one had been pre-lit and unfortunately after 7 years it several sections of lights that wouldn’t light. This time we went with a non lit tree, but we decided to get some new lights. Why not a real tree you ask? Because I like to breathe.

RANT: Hi there, people who think incandescent bulbs are the Devil’s handiwork. You are single-handedly RUINING CHRISTMAS. Those new fangled LED lights? HORRIBLE. TERRIBLE. They vibrate. There is a visible vibration to the light. If the entire country has an epileptic seizure all at the same time, we know who to blame.

We bought these lights, with the slightly larger, old fashioned bulbs, but they were sad. I plugged the tree in and it was saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad. No twinkle. No shine. No SPARKLE. For two weeks my tree made me feel sad.

Christmas trees are not a Biblical thing. I get that. They were made popular by Queen Victoria and her German husband Albert. I LOVE THEM. I would have a tree in every room if that were practical. I love the ornaments, the lights. I love the way the room glows when all that is on is the tree. So when my tree was sad, I was REALLY SAD.

I was going to see if I could get the white lights I had stuck in a box in the attic, but that meant getting in the attic. Then I was rifling through a bin in the basement sorting through mittens and gloves and found two boxes of lights our friend had given us last year. There was one box of colored lights and one of white. They have slightly larger candle shaped bulbs, but they SPARKLE. I plugged the colored ones in and almost did a dance. Then I spent two hours undecorating and redecorating my tree last night. And it is so much happier. I am so much happier.

christmas tree 2013

And now I will spend a great deal of time searching out, buying and hoarding all of the non LED light strings I can find.

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The one in which I discover the true nature of physical therapists…

My ankle isn’t broken and my rotator cuff does not appear to be torn. But I did manage to badly sprain everything on my right side so my doctor said “I’m sending you to physical therapy.” I said YAY I have never been to physical therapy, although my sister in law is one and she seems nice enough. She HELPS people. This will be helpful. 

This is the little trick no one tells you about. The niceness. It hides a dark, sadistic side that you cannot possibly suspect until it’s too late and they have you on one of their tables, bending you this way and that, and digging their friendly looking fingers into your wounded muscles. 

Sophia. Such a friendly, soft, caring name. She is THIN, can’t weigh more than my 7 year old, and has the build of an elf straight out of the Lord of the Rings movies. But my theory is that physical therapy evolved from the medieval study and practice of torture. They have studied anatomy extensively, and they know EXACTLY where to press to cause the most amount of pain. OK, it helps that you walk in there already in pain. But they know how to maximize it. Sophia has obviously trained with the best. She smiles, she says OK let me try this and then BAM she is pressing down on what is apparently a knotted muscle, which is angry because I caused it a good deal of trauma, and I am hard pressed to remember ANYTHING we were just talking about and have to remember to breathe. “The pain should dissipate in a bit” she says, pressing INTO that knot. Whimper. 

In the end though, IN THE END, you feel better. Your shoulder doesn’t ache as much, and you have a bit more mobility than you had yesterday. So you willingly subject yourself to more of this treatment. You also wonder if bringing a round of donuts and coffee next time might buy you a little mercy…

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Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up…

So I am back from the land of perpetual rain. I was in Oregon for 9 whole days, not including travel days, and it rained for 8 of them. And pretty much all day. That’s November in Oregon. The last day I was there was cold but clear. Of course that was the day I decided it would be really fun to hurt myself and make my mother drive me to the urgent care place to get my ankle x-rayed.

I fell down the steps into my parents garage. I misjudged the second to last step, I guess, and turned my ankle hard, and fell on top of a pile of boxes. I think. All I know is I didn’t fall face forward into the cabinets at the foot of the stairs, or directly onto the concrete floor from a foot off the ground. Because nothing was broken. Badly sprained, yes. And I am going to my doctor today to discuss my shoulder because the tendon across the front of my shoulder joint argues with me about whether or not wearing a bra to leave the house is absolutely necessary. (IT IS.)

This is going to slow down my progress in karate. And yoga. It certainly has slowed down my progress between point A and B for quite a bit. It has made me also want to ask WHAT THE HELL ANKLES? This is the third time in about 4 months I have fallen down because my ankles roll faster than a dog being offered belly scratches. It doesn’t matter what I am wearing on my feet. Sneakers, flats, clogs. If a rock manages to find its way under my foot and challenges the stability of my ankle, chances are I am going to fall down.

It is a family trait. My fathers mother, my Grandmother Ella, had the same problem. But I am not interested in spending the next however many years of my life worrying about falling down. I would like to find a solution to this that doesn’t involve never leaving my house again. I like walking. I like being part of the world. Oddly enough I have yet to fall while walking the dogs in the woods. If I was going to trip or lose my balance anywhere, you would think a woods full of roots and uneven surfaces would be it. But no. Walking the dogs on a paved flat road, yes.

I will be seeing my doctor to ask, in addition to “Did I destroy my rotator cuff?” to recommend strategies for strengthening my rebellious, completely untrustworthy ankles or other supporting structure so that maybe I can safely walk across the gravel driveway at the CSA without risk of ruining another pair of favorite pants.

But if he tells me that the solution involves doing burpees I’ll know he is in cahoots with my karate instructor. She likes to sneak cross fit activities in under the guise of “fitness.” Pretty sure she is a black belt in torture too.

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Observations in flight…

People seem in a really big hurry to stand in line at airports. Even when you have a very specific seat assignment, and you are in the 5th boarding group out of 5, people will rush to stand in that line.

Some people get way too dressed up for flying. I get it if you are on your way to a business meeting and won’t have time to change, but other than that, I think high heeled boots and a yellow mini dress are excessive.

You know how you sit there, vaguely paying attention to the safety demonstration and instructions – in the event of a water landing do not follow your normal instincts, which will be to scream hysterically, thrash about and plow past every human being to get to the door, but use the wholly inadequate seat cushion you are sitting on as a floatation device, blahblahblah and they eventually demonstrate how to buckle and unbuckle the seat belt, and you sit there wondering who in the world over the age of 3 doesn’t know how to use a seat belt? I was sitting next to that woman. The one woman who has made it to the age of 50 or so, who apparently has never had to use a seat belt, maybe has never flown before for that matter. She was complaining about how hot it was as we sat on the tarmac, and turned to me to say she was going to ask them to turn the heat off over her, would that make me too cold. “Yeah, it doesn’t work that way. Open the little nozzle above you and it will get better in flight” I responded as non judgmentally as possible. I am not convinced I succeeded. You see, when I got to my seat, on the aisle, I found she and her daughter eating salad. At 9am. They had to be told to “return their tray tables to their upright position” before we took off. So after the seat belt and salad, the heat comment kind of made my brain twitch.

That was the first leg. The second leg involved a very nice elderly couple on their way home from visiting family, and a whole college basketball team in VERY PURPLE sweatsuits. I generally don’t wish to be over 6 feet tall, although having the ability to become temporarily tall would come in handy A LOT in my life, I don’t mind admitting, but when you observe a 6’5″ young man trying to contain all of his legs and arms inside of an economy sized seat on a 737, you tend to be very content being 5’4″.

Now I am in Oregon, visiting the parents, planning things like painting the kitchen ceiling, helping to replace the light fixture in the bathroom, and sorting through things to determine what is precious or not precious in preparation for the day when these items need to find a new home. There has already been much laughing and I may have given my dad another pirate name. He already has had the name Scarbelly, from two different surgeries in his life, but now he is Bread Beard. The pirate who always has a snack for later. Gar.

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