Friday, December 31, 2010

This is not a Resolution Post

I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions. I figured out a long time ago that the rush of 'new' wears off in about seventeen days and all of that which we intend to revolutionize about ourselves gets crammed in a drawer to minimize the guilty discomfort of yet another failure. Instead, I have decided to issue New Years Admonitions; none of this feel good 'turning of the year' nonsense.

1. Quit wasting time whining about your body. Move for the joy of movement. Decorate it. Get yourself some color and sparkle, adorn yourself joyfully, and add up all the parts you denigrate separately into something that is worthy, uniquely yours, and beautiful RIGHT NOW. If I hear you saying "My fat butt" or "My stupid (whatever)" I'm going to call you on it. Who is policing and shaming you? Why are you letting them? Tell them to shut up. Tell yourself to shut up if you have to. There is something called 'Health at Every Size'. Find out about it here.

2. If there are things in your life that are dragging you down, making you miserable, contributing to a trapped and hopeless feeling, GET RID OF THEM. This life is to be lived. If it involves buying a box of trash bags at Sam's and filling them with all the clutter that has made you feel like you are drowning THROW IT THE HELL OUT. Negative people can be placed on the same curb. Even if you can't get them out of your life you can choose to stop buying into their misery. Inform them of your boundaries. Invite them to get over it.

3. Stop wasting your energy being perpetually unsatisfied. Do you spend most of the day complaining about stuff? WHY?? Stop it right now. You are awash in blessing. They may be small. It may take a flexing of some mental and spiritual muscles you've let go to see and appreciate them. But they are there. Don't let the world tell you what you need to be happy. The world is easily confused, distracted, and deceived.

4. You are surrounded by the fragile, the hurting, the walking wounded. Every single day. You don't have to be a miracle worker to heal them. You just have to be kind. Cynicism and indifference kills just as surely as violence, but slower.

5. Stop. Every once in a while, just stop. Practice saying the words "No", "No, thank you, not today", "Thank you for thinking of me, but no." Its better that a few get your very best effort and attention than many getting what you can spare, and resentfully at that. I promise you that the refused will get by without you.

6. Every single person on the planet including Jesus Christ has had to deal with other people who hold opinions of them that are unwarranted, unkind, and unfair. You are not a special snowflake in this. It should neither surprise nor consume you.

That's it, kiddos. Don't wait until December 31 to celebrate what's 'happy' and 'new'. You get that every minute of the day.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Inevitability of December

Goodness. Wasn't I just writing about October or somesuch? Next thing you know the air is full of cinnamon and commerce and snow.

I've been experiencing those pre-ruminant rumblings that normally come before a blog post; I knew it would happen eventually. Sometimes there is so much to talk about that it all becomes an inarticulate blur before I can pin any of it down. I suspect I need medication.

The tipping point was on page 4 of my holiday issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. There she is, swathed in as much religiously neutral sparkle as one can manage while keeping a silver pashmina on one's shoulders and hefting a frosted cake with five lit candles on it AND preventing one's long, perilously-close hair from catching fire. She's a multi-tasker, that one.
Page 4, the table of contents, really, suggests that for a 'quick, cracker-ready spread, stir a crushed candy cane and cracked black pepper into cream cheese'.

Excuse me, I have something in my throat. I think its my lunch.

I'm a bush-league foodie. I'm not afraid of tofu. I know what sorts of things you could cook using rendered duck fat. I know the difference between a shallot and a leek. But I'm pretty sure serving cream cheese with crushed black pepper and candy in it would put me in the company of not the Alton Brown set but the lady with all the dolls whose yard ornamentation is two seasons behind, who gives the kids bare-handfuls of circus peanuts in their trick-or-treat bags and thinks the government has put listening devices in her Lillian Vernon catalog.

I have a tenuous relationship with December. In years past it has just been the kickoff of Ye Olde Seasone of Suck, replete with weather-inspired anxieties and holiday expectation vs. reality funk. I'm disorganized, not the best housekeeper, and gift-purchasing turns me into Cindy Brady on 'Question the Kids' (more for the blank look than the 'Swiss Miss' braids). I find myself preoccupied with people who lack a social network this time of year, whose story does not have a Hallmark movie ending after two hours of gentle misunderstanding, over-magnified danger, and clever golden retrievers. (They're all around you! Try not to think about it. Ooops! Too late.)
Some Christmases past have been very dark indeed.

This December is better. I have a job I love. My obligatory bad-weather driving has been slashed to almost nothing. My house is still messy, but I do what I can and I release the rest. I'd like to have more money for presents, but since that only triggers my standing in Target with a deer-in-headlights look and a frozen brain its just as well. And I've realized just in the nick of time what I should do every year around this time-- slow down. Breathe. Look around. Take it in. Be peacefully quiet. Receive. Listen. Love with an undistracted heart.

And if all else fails, begin at the beginning.

Monday, November 08, 2010

You Wanna Hear a Story?

I spent the summer running ambulance like it was my full-time job. Mostly because my actual full-time job became an 'eliminated position' in June. This resulted in 37 (thirty-seven) interfacility transfers in one quarter, sometimes as many as three a week. I spent most of Labor Day weekend in the back of a Horton.

Which is fine.

Sometimes there are great stretches of time in this endeavor where nothing much happens. It was a summer of cardiac rhythm disturbances and possible CVAs. There was the odd car accident. But last Friday night was a reminder of why I have a special place in my heart for people who make poor life choices on a regular basis.

00:35. We're called out to assist an airmedical agency, and on the way we find out its a 'hot load'-- we have to get the patient at the hospital and take him directly to the helipad so he can be on his way. This usually means that whatever is going on is pretty serious and there isn't time to pick up the helicopter crew, ferry them to the hospital, let them dink around and then wrap the patient in what I call the 'flying burrito wrapper' (their fancy insulated blankie) and take them back to he helipad. I know the ER's been quiet, so I'm interested to know what's up.

We get there, and the ER is quiet indeed, except for our patient, a twenty-something man in plaid boxers who I can tell either just engaged in a tearful confession of some kind with the Paramedic holding pretty vicious direct pressure on his right wrist, or he's drunk.
Oh, goody.
I step behind this Paramedic in an attempt to figure out why he's holding this young man's wrist so tightly. After all, he seems boisterous, and possibly inebriated, but not particularly violent.


Peeking around a stack of four by fours is a deep cut that seems to go most of the way around his wrist. Four more packs of gauze sit stacked beside him and he asks me to open them. "Three of them should do it." Yikes. I open the packs and watch them wrap the wound. I sense a story coming.

"So what happened?" The paramedic asks as we drive to the helipad.

"Oh, man. You wanna hear a story? So, like, we were drinking and whatnot, and I, like, fell off the porch and caught my hand on the white things, you know the white things between the windows? And, like, my hand went through it. And I fell. And blood, like, shot out like four feet."

He offered further information.

"But, you know? Okay. You wanna hear this? Last year, like, my friends and I were partying, and drinking and whatnot, and I, you know, passed out on the sidewalk. And you know what the cop did? He TOOK ME TO THE HOSPITAL. What a DICK."

(What was he supposed to do? Put cones around him so no one would trip?)

"Thirty five hundred dollars. Man. That sucked."

"You ain't seen nothing yet," the Paramedic said. "Wait until you get the helicopter bill."

We waited, listening for the distant drone of his ride coming in over the lake. The patient coughed long and deep.

"That doesn't sound to good, are you sick?" I asked.

"Nah, wanna hear this? Okay, so about a week ago I was siphoning some diesel fuel and I got some in my lungs. I guess I should have them check that shit out too while I'm at the hospital."

"So, you were just going to let that go and see how it worked out?" by now the Paramedic has that look on his face that tells me I'm going to be spending the next few minutes trying hard not to laugh. "Do you ever think about, like, staying home?"

What would we do on a Friday night if he did?


In other news, most of you already know that I lost a job in the beginning of the summer. Some of you may NOT know that I got a new job that I have a feeling may contribute some content to this blog, though from a different 'angle'.....I'm a 9-1-1 dispatcher in training.
Yep, I'm learning to work the other side of the radio....police stuff, protocols, geography, computer aided dispatch, its a whole new world. I love it-- the co-workers, the work, even the wonky schedule is cool.

Poor life-choice makers...holla. You already have my digits.

Monday, October 04, 2010


It was a dreary, chilly Thursday with steady rain. I snapped the picture from the porch to avoid getting wet. And maybe also to distance myself from the ridiculous urge to be overly sentimental.

Then it was time to go.

I drove to my friend Rich's house and he followed me to the salvage yard. I went carefully across the muddy parking lot, leaping small puddles among the ranks of tagless cars, some with heavy damage or makeshift trash-bag windows. Inside, I breathed the motor oil-and-tire scent and peered into the ranks of metal shelving that marched into the darkened garage, the rows of disembodied stereos and gleaming stacks of rims, their vital statistics scrawled on the side with bright yellow grease pencil in the impenetrable kanji of mechanics.

"The next one you need is for a 2001 Dodge Caravan," He explained patiently into a two-way radio to the employee who was out in the rain cultivating their livelihood. "You'll see it, its just like the 2002 except that it has a little curved place where the other one is flat." He was describing headlight assemblies from memory, since he had this conversation while writing me a check and pointing out the places where I was to sign. I worked the key off my ring and placed it on the counter on top of the title, then borrowed a screwdriver. I ran back outside into the doownpour and my friend deftly removed the screws and handed me my license plate. Ducking back inside, I placed the borrowed tool back on the counter. "Thanks!" I called. "Thank you!" came faintly from somewhere in the gloom over the steady patter of rain on the roof.

Its just a car, I thought to myself as we backed out of the lot. The husband never stopped complaining about its 4-cylinder lack of power, especially after we moved to a place that wasn't bone flat. Just a car that I drove out of the Saturn dealership into a crisp fall day surrounded by cheering employees. Just a car that earned a polaroid snapshot on a special bulletin board at that same dealership with the mileage written on the white border when we crossed the 100,000 mile mark. Just a car that held my bicycle in the flipdown back seat so I could train every day for a bike ride across New Jersey after not riding a bike for seven years. Just a car that took us to Maine in 2004 for an unforgettable vacation. Just a car that, loaded to the roof in 2005, brought me here when our lives completely changed. It took me down roads that were not always easy to traverse, mute witness to as many sorrows as joys. May its salvageable parts carry lots of other folks with 15 year old cars into new adventures.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Moderate Excess, Volume Three

What, did you think we were done? Oh my goodness no. We are done with the makeup, yes, but knowing as you do about my color issues, you must have guessed that the compulsion to have every color extends in other directions. Like this one.
This, my friends, is the kind of pencil/pen case you come home with if you shop at Walmart at odd hours of a Saturday morning. This item came home with me on the ill-fated bra buying trip.
I was stumbling around the office supply aisles and all the school stuff was out and suddenly the though streaked across my under-rested brain like a late breaking dementia: IMMA GET A PENCIL CASE!!!!
There were lots of sedate options; burgundy. Olive green. Even the ones with kittens looked less like they fell out of a young Ken Kesey's backpack. But I had to have this one. So have it I did. And here's whats inside.

We have Magnatank gel pens in red, blue, green, purple, and black. Papermate bold points in red and black, Dixon Tri-conderogas (on account of they are triangular, yo) and their special sharpener, two clicky pencils, some colored pencils, old school Bics (the lenders in my pencil case; these go to shady pen borrowers who may/may not return), some more gel pens, couple of Zebra Sarasas which are the best gel pens ever and come in maroon and forest green and other colors that make me want to weep with their perfection, two Pilot Varsity fountain pens that are grudgingly acceptable replacements for my cracked, old Parker fountain pen that the soulless bastards at Parker stopped making, more Papermate bold points, and various 3m Tape Flags and Tabs because you never know when you might run across something that begs to be tabbed and color coded and you NEED TO BE READY.

There was a time when this kind of pen stash was completely reasonable. I wrote letters. I had international pen friends. I wrote letters of encouragement in painstakingly transcribed Russian to prisoners for Amnesty International. I journalled, which is apparently what all of us did before we had this fabulous medium of self indulgence and confession.

These days, my commitment to the epistolary arts has not departed altogether but it is seriously diminished. I still journal, because there is some mental floss that simply does not require its icky bits to be flung into public scrutiny, whether it be an attack of preciousness or unassailable darkness. BUT BUT BUT....I NEED pens. I just need them. I still have to write checks and fill out ambulance paperwork and write more checks for the ambulance association and take notes in classes and carefully write appointments into my schedule book and sign birthday cards with a flourish. I need to leave notes to feed the cat and jot witticisms on bulletin boards. I need to scrawl "You, sir, are a selfish bastard" on a post-it and slap it on the driver's side window of a car parked across the last two parking spaces. (Do I carry post-its in my purse for this and similar purposes? Hells to the yes. )

But in the end, most of the pleasure just comes from spreading them out and looking at them.
I like to think it comes from a deeply seated need to see, feel, taste and experience LIFE.
In all the colors.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Acceptance in Words AND Action

Its so easy, and more than a little fun, to sit here at this computer and write my little fingers off talking about size acceptance, empowerment, and refusing to belittle and degrade yourself even in jest. Its even sometimes not all that hard to say the 'F' word in public and ignore the barely disguised flinch of others when you do. But the critical voice never goes away. She bides her time and waits for that breach in the wall, that weak spot of self-condemnation that might be overlooked for a while but will pop up and surprise you.

I was uploading some photos to Facebook last night, and I reflexively hesitated at one of myself. I found myself thinking, oh, you can see how fat my legs are in that picture. Uh huh. So? I'm on standby as an EMT. I'm trained to use everything in that truck. I know what to do if someone passes out, if one of the football players gets dropped on his head, breaks an ankle, if there's a diabetic emergency, a cardiac emergency, a seizure. But I looked at that picture and thought to myself, if I put that up people can see that I'm fat.


There. Worlds did not end. Civilizations did not fall. And its really kind of liberating to say "This is me" in words AND pictures.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Moderate Excess, Volume Two

Dims: 8 1/2 " X 11 3/4" X 10 1/2"
Loaded Weight: 14 Pounds
Contents: Fabulous

When last we spoke, we talked of the lips. The toolkit of color and spectacle, the vast possibility of attitude contained therein. But this is it, the IT that took me many moons to find. Previous 'makeup bags' and later 'makeup cases' were puny, feeble, and failed copies of this ultimate in pulchritudinous conveyance. They came in colors that mirrored the Barbie Dream Van. Their compartments were too small and too few. I wanted something that looked like it should be handcuffed to the wrist of a burly, darkly handsome Mossad agent in a $3,000 suit. (It even locks, which would excite me if I was still 12 and not the very kid makeup needed to be locked away FROM. )

Let's tour the facility, shall we?

The first stop is correction. Anything you could possibly need to cover, from a sleepless night to a sketchy memory involving Jose Cuervo, a couple of ill chosen karaoke numbers, and a guy named Paul who would call you if you hadn't given him your chiropractor's number can be taken care of out of this section here. Oh, and yeah. I got the new Cover Girl and Olay stuff. Because I'm not 23 anymore. I noticed that the Bare Minerals was accumulating in lines on my face in ways that were less flawless airbrushed perfection and more Kate Spade hobo bag. I'm over it.
The Girly Squee award in that section goes to that tiny tube of Too Faced Shadow Insurance. You'll feel slightly violated paying what that costs but BELIEVE ME its worth it. No amount of poor choices in an evening will budge whatever you put on top of that stuff.

Next stop, color! Most of the shadows on the green backdrop are out of Ulta color collections. (Forget Disney, people. Ulta is my happy place. You can shop online, but find a store near you and GO THERE. Its like Tractor Supply for girls. ) The rest of the color is either Bare Minerals, Smashbox, or cheap and fabulous drugstore finds. Wet and Wild has come a long way since I picked it up at Eckerd's with a new can of Aqua Net. They have a lot more than those $1 foot long black eyeliners we used to melt with a lighter.
Speaking of which....this is the eyeliner collection. So we've got your standard pencils, then again with the W & W because their liquid liner is fantastic and doesn't have that pokey brush that, in a moment of inattention, show you what its like to be blinded by a Sharpie, a bit of pricey Smashbox gel action, and my one bit of throwback that you'd have to pry from my cold dead hands, Mary Kay black cake eyeliner. They no longer make it. It takes practice to use. But you can get everything from a faint charcoal line to full on burlesque queen action depending on how much water you use and once it dries it goes NOWHERE until you want it to.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, yes I AM holding on to that shade of peacock blue until acid wash jeans come back.

Look at them. All neatly arranged like a symphony. On the left we have the basecoats and topcoats and sedate, tasteful, job interview-appropriate, do-your-grandma's-nails colors. In the middle back, the slightly bolder, arguably seasonal, but still normal colors. But on the right...well, let's take a closer look.
Let's see. We have black, yellow, orange, two shades of blue, two shades of green, and two shades of purple that, worn shimmer over flat, make my fingers look like they were dipped in awesome sauce. I call this my 'F-em if they can't take a joke' collection.

Oh, and the little bottles in the front? Embellishment. So I can do stuff like this. Tonight is Homecoming at our local high school. I have to go standby on the ambulance, so in addition to my Hornet's green ambulance sweatshirt, I'll be rocking these:

Its hard to focus on your own hand, particularly one as dainty as mine, but my middle finger is painted like a cheerleader sweater. (Do cheerleaders still wear sweaters?)
There's sparkles, y'all.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Moderate Excess, Volume One

Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.
Gwyneth Paltrow

There are some things in life I can't get enough of. I thought it might be fun to give you a peek into a few of them.

I confess, further, that these are things I have obsessed over since childhood. In my pre-literate days I was fascinated with color. I'd line up the Mobil Travel Guides or McCormick's Cookbooks and stare at the spines, spellbound by the way they were all the same and yet different colors.

I have trouble when things come in colors. How can I choose just one? What if, one dreary day, I want something different? Or what if that old compulsion to line them up and just LOOK AT THEM overtakes me? You can imagine how long it took me to pick out and iPod shuffle. (In the end I opted for red.)

So anyway. Somewhere between being a ground in, denim clad tomboy and my big hair high school days, I discovered makeup. I found out that I could look at pictures in magazines and copy the way makeup was put on. In the 80's this was not hard, since the application tended to be of the paint-roller variety and the color contrasts were pretty stark. Every woman on Dynasty looked like she was one gold-beaded headdress and a g-string away from Carnival. But I was in the fourth grade, and my makeup collection was limited to giant stick glosses the size of a peppermill in various flavors like grape and cotton candy. I'll admit now (since I believe that the statute of limitation on sisterly beating has passed) that my earliest experimentation started with creeping into my sister's room when she wasn't home and parking myself on her vanity bench.

These days, I'm a makeup connoisseur, but not a makeup snob. I'm just as delighted with a cheap thing that works great (hello, NYC Color and Wet & Wild) as I am with my Smashbox and Tony and Tina. But my ALL THE COLORS thing hasn't abated. If anything, its gotten worse.

I start with the lipstick case.
My lipstick used to be neatly ensconced in the Tool Box. (We'll get to that.) But it quickly overflowed its allotted portion of the box, crowding the other neighbors and causing complaints. Well, maybe I should just show you.
Its hard to fit it all in to one picture. What we have here is a seperate compartment for champagne/beiges, one for lipliners and sharpeners, one for pinks, and one for fiery reds, for those days when only a retro hair roll and a bit of burlesque-queen black eyeliner will do. What you see in the middle is the entire collection of NYC Color Extreme Lip Glider Lip Gloss, including the three special edition colors that weren't in the NYC display but I found then anyway. Oh, and seven Chapsticks. And a Blistex in Raspberry Lemonade. And some Rosebud Salve.

Don't judge me, but sometimes I lay in bed in the wan predawn light, thinking about what color I'm going to wear that day. Then I build the rest of the 'look' around it. I take issue with Gwyneth on one point; beauty is being comfortable in your own skin and believing that you are worthy of a kickass red lipstick. Lipstick says, hey, I decorated myself today, and I'm happy with the result. (Red lipstick says a few more things but I'll leave those to you to figure out.)

In our next installment, we'll venture to the Tool Box, where we'll examine such pressing issues as:
Is there a place in your life for yellow nail polish? (Perhaps)
Does one really need five completely different types of eyeliner? (You bet your sweet bippy)
Ulta: Delightful retail establishment, or dangerous makeup crackhouse? (You be the judge.)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Boogity, Boogity, Boogity

Thanks to NBC Sports for the photo. Also: That is not my husband.

Things that are happening because my husband is at a race at Watkins Glen:

I rolled out of bed, ran a brush through my hair, and had a friend over for breakfast. I made omelettes. We drank high test coffee and talked about girl stuff, music, and world affairs. All before I'd put on street clothes, makeup, or a bra. Friends you don't have to vacuum for are AWESOME.

I've watched two different documentaries: this one and this one. I highly recommend them both. You'll need tissues.

I've left the air conditioner off and the windows open.

I've made cheese quesadillas an honorary food group.

I did laundry, but I haven't put it away. I may not put it away today, either. We'll see.

There is wine. Its cheap, cold, and in a jug. There is a high probability of italian food later, and it will very likely be consumed with a glass of the aforementioned cheap cold wine. Probably while watching another documentary.

We've had this text exchange:

Me: Having fun?
Him: So far so good hot
Him: (Later) Pretty awesome
Me: Yeah? Can you see well where you are?
Him: (empty message-- itchy send finger, I guess)
Him: Yeah baby.
Me: Is it loud?
Him: Oh yeah.

So I gather from this that NASCAR is either so mind-numbingly awesome it simply buggers the imagination and one's ability to articulate its awesomeness via text message, OR its so loud and disorienting that it has reduced my husband's vocabulary to that of someone receiving a lap dance.
Either way, I'm not feeling sad or left behind.

I think I'll bake some pretzels.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

In which I talk about undergarments and 'The Girls'

Main Entry: 1bos·om
Pronunciation: \ˈbu̇-zəm also ˈbü-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English bōsm; akin to Old High German buosam bosom
Date: before 12th century

1 a : the human chest and especially the front part of the chest b : a woman's breasts regarded especially as a single feature

If I was interviewed on 'Inside the Actor's Studio', and the man with the stack of blue cards asked me what my favorite word was, I'd be torn between 'luminous' and 'bosom'. I always associated bosom with a lady in a long dress and an apron who bakes and administers good advice.


On the way back from a late night ambulance run, we stopped at an 24 hour retail establishment because my co-pilot needed to buy a set of shelves that wouldn't have fit in her car. As we pulled into the parking lot I realized that I would practice some good self care and pick up something I desperately needed. How desperately? You be the judge:

That sad garment has five identical sisters. They slouch in a graying, resigned pile in one corner of my sock drawer, ready, sort of willing, and mostly able to do the very important job of aiming my headlights. I knew they needed to be replaced. I tried to ignore this fact. The final straw --no matter how carefully I attempted to avoid it when fastening my seatbelt in the ambulance, I always honked the horn with my left boob. Not exactly the professional demeanor one is going for in that situation.

Yes, it was time for some new ones. But I had two problems. The first had to do with the complicated algebra of determining correct size, where you are supposed to put on a bra that fits you properly (which is problematic because if I had those, we wouldn't be engaging in this particular exercise), measure around the band, measure around the 'fullest part of the breast', subtract one from the other, solve for 'x', multiply that by the cosine of 'y' over the result, bearing in mind that the nearest exit may be behind you, then have your chart done when Mars is ascendant to determine your cup size. I hadn't done this. But I had a vague notion of numeric size and as far as cups go I was somewhere between 'Well, Alright' and 'Rack of Doom'. So I figured I could guess.

The other problem was the time. 2-2:30am is not a particularly good time to make decisions about vital pieces of clothing.

I was not one of those girls that couldn't wait for a training bra. In fact, I held out so long that we were past training and heading into orientation before I agreed to wear one. I think I was terrified by the undergarments I watched my grandmother put on as a child. Ever the preacher of 'a dress only looks as good as what you wear under it', my grandmother took underthings very, very seriously. To put it in other terms, if your run of the mill Playtex is a VW Beetle, Mom-Mom favored the Armored Personnel Carrier. To this day I'll never understand how she did 18 hooks behind her back. I was no fan of scratchy fabric. Back then bras came in boxes, organized in drawers in the department store, and every single one a rappelling harness with a tiny rose embroidered on it. You wore it and you didn't complain.

Now the choices are numerous and varied. Too numerous and varied, I'm thinking, for someone who has been awake all day, got four hours of sleep the night before, and is now running on fumes through Walmart at 2:30 with only a vague sense of proper size. They still have the ones in the boxes; the drawers crouch demurely in the corner alongside gaudy specimens in every conceivable color and style, including some that should come with a red feather boa. I aimed for something in the middle and started digging.

One whole wall was what I would term a 'sports bra'. No hooks, you sort of wrestle yourself into them and those of us beyond 12 year old gymnast size end up with an attractive Uniboob. No, thankye kindly. On to the more traditional offerings.

Here's my first mistake. What is going on here?

It looks like it already has a pair in it. What was I thinking? I tried it on and while it fit nicely, I felt like I didn't so much put it on as decide to stand in it.

If only it came with a lariat. Oh, and in my delirium I bought an UNDERWIRE. Hate hate hate.

The second mistake was a two-fer. It was two to a pack; its sister is just blue.

No words. Only this.

Photo from here.

I suppose I'll get used to these in time, though due to a couple of miscalculations I need to get some extenders. But at least everything will be pointing in the right direction. And not activating any horns or sirens.

I'll let our buddy Creed take us out with some boobular wisdom.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Some Travel Reading for Your Journey out of Shametown

Himself writes book reviews on a regular basis. (Interested parties can drop in here.) He's been bugging me to do it for a while. I told him it was too much like work, too much like school, and too much like he was telling me what to do and he could suck it. (Because polite discourse is always our preferred method of communication.)

In this case, however, its a good place to start. A good place to begin to explain the mental remodeling that's been going on with me these days. So I'll follow his format, and try to explain how much these books mean to me.

Book the first:

Title: Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body
Author: Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby
Publication Year: 2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Pages: 223

How I Found It: I'm having a tough time remembering how I found this book, but I'm pretty sure I stumbled upon Kate's Shapely Prose blog and it went from there.

This book is like that friend you wish you had in high school. The one that stood beside you, thought a little faster, and had the right thing to say when football players made ignorant comments about your weight at your locker. The fearless friend. The one that moved effortlessly between the cliques and refused to fit anyone's definition of cool because she had her own thing going and anyone who didn't like it could kindly fuck right off, thank you and goodnight.

Kate and Marianne quote Melissa McEwan of

"It remains a radical act to be fat and happy in America, especially if you're a woman (for whom 'jolly' fatness isn't an option). If you're fat, you're not only meant to be unhappy, but deeply ashamed of yourself, projecting at all times an apologetic nature, indicative of your everlasting remorse for having wrought your monstrous self upon the world. You are are certainly not meant to be bold, or assertive, or confident-- and should you manage to overcome the constant drumbeat of messages that you are ugly and unsexy and have earned equally society's disdain and your own self hatred, should you forget your place and walk into the world one day with your head held high, you are to be reminded by the cowcalls and contemptuous looks of perfect strangers that you are not supposed to have self esteem; you don't deserve it. Being publicly fat and happy is hard; being publicly, shamelessly, unshakably fat and happy is an act of both will and bravery."

This book is a manifesto for finding that will and bravery. It dusted me off, set me upright, and dared to suggest that coming from a place of pressure, self-loathing, and miserable resignation to yet another diet is really not a foundation for effective self-care, never mind that its frustrating, ineffective, and turns you quickly into a sanctimonious preacher of the most tiresome ilk in a desperate effort to milk what little rush comes from those early days of control, when you make your little books and charts and buy your tools and convince yourself that this time, despite some 35 years of contrary evidence, THIS effort is going to magically make you someone you aren't and you'll stay that way, aloft, by some bottomless measure of effortless grace that comes from the Being Thin Fairy, who transports you to a magical land where everything fits and you feel fabulous all the time and your checkbook always balances.

I recommend this book as a starting point. More are recommended in its Appendix to suggest a better pattern for caring for yourself simply because you deserve good self care, WITHOUT weight loss as the goal. This book has made me pay attention to how often people talk about diets and dieting, how often they declare themselves good, bad, worthy or unworthy based on the number the scale gave them or whatever they ate that day, as if specific foods have a moral value. How many times I've done it. And how very, very tired I am of doing it. I'm learning how to be that friend I wish I had, both to myself and to others.

Next Time: The Nuts and Bolts of it all: 'Health at Every Size' by Dr. Linda Bacon

Thursday, July 01, 2010

I could get used to this......

Summer vacation. Say it aloud: Summer vacation. It has all sorts of satisfying noises in it, especially for someone who hasn't been able to take one in twenty years.

Twenty years, you ask?

Twenty years. In an industry with a 'peak season' during the summer. At companies with something called a 'vacation blackout period'. There was one week in July of 2004 when I took off and was allowed because, given the client I was dealing with, if I didn't get away from my desk for a week I was going to appear on the news walking meekly before a Delaware state trooper after a multi-hour standoff during which I would have simply broken a few of my boss'Lladro figurines and demanded a cheesesteak on a decent roll before dissolving into exhausted sobbing.

My first couple of weeks of unexpected vacation were a bit of an activity-filled blur. I disseminated resumes almost immediately, but the first week was our fire department carnival, so my idle time was spent avidly scrubbing the smell of fried peppers and onions and funnel cake out of my hair and lamenting the failure of modern dentistry in this part of the world. I cleaned a few things, sorted a few things, signed up for some volunteer work, started the networking process that will land me my next job, and finally, finally stopped and took a breath.

I'm loving the quiet. Just the clean quiet of an afternoon. The hiss of wind in the trees. My backyard is beautiful and I stopped seeing it; flying home between this and that and only allowing myself to be annoyed by the incessant barking of dogs. I'm soaking up this respite, this rest between measures. I know the music will take up again soon enough and I don't want to waste this.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Directions

"A great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up."

--Albert Schweitzer

I've been too silent these last few months, and I'm going to remedy that.

The access to my well of words is a path too easily overgrown with weeds and deadfall; weeks go by without a coherent thought to share and the next thing I know I have to squint to see that track through to my subconscious, that faint trail into 'what I meant to say'. Much of it remained unexplained simply because I had no wish to complain, no wish to blame, no wish to give voice to that great net of unhappy facts to do with things I lacked; a vocation, basic consideration, a workplace that wasn't a minefield of treachery and misapprehension.

Well, someone stomped on the trap release on June 14th, and I bounded off into the woods.

My first week of unemployment was so monumentally busy that I could only pause from time to time to giggle at the supreme lightness of being free from that slow-burning anxiety that woke me almost nightly and guaranteed a slowly deepening Sunday afternoon depression. I am pursuing new possibilities while simply enjoying being able to freely breathe again.

A new adventure is coming.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Pause in the Flailing

Goodness, its May already.

In my industry we have what we call 'Peak Season'. It seems to have started a little early this year, so I've been on the road a fair piece, exploring both the interstate system of the Twin Tiers and the cabinet-organizing skills of scrapbooking mommies, industrious graduate students, and the odd Cat Lady.

Hours and hours on your own make for some interesting alone time. Helpful friends suggest books on CD and suchlike, but as the vehicle I travel in has no CD player (CD players having fallen in the optional category with power windows, cruise control, and air conditioning). I'm still working on good ways to occupy my brain without second-guessing film plots or listening to conservative talk radio. So far I've got:

  • Dream analysis
  • Attempting show tunes that are considered out of my vocal range
  • Writing blog posts in my head
  • Trying to remember what happened to my Barbies
  • Profiling other drivers
  • Speculating on clinical diagnoses of difficult people I know
  • Speculating on my own clinical diagnoses
  • Naming bands (like 'Dreams Walking in Broad Daylight'...the Talking Heads tribute band that doesn't exist, but should)
  • Thinking up ways to explode the myths of pop culture while simultaneously ensconcing myself as a pop culture icon though not in a trashy or sellout way unless its the fun and ironic but not overdone kind of selling out. (Oh, and for money, but not so much that its obscene)

I haven't posted much because, to be honest, ridiculous busy-ness doesn't seem to lend itself to the funny. The last few weeks have been a blur of Ambulance Association Treasurer-ing, meetings, ambulance calls, sleep catching up after said calls, driving, driving, and more driving, and increasing despair over my feeble housecleaning skills. If I had children without paws and a self cleaning feature they'd probably be dancing in the backyard around the pig on a spit and breaking some poor fat kid's glasses by now.

I'm still tying to honor my commitment to celebrating my fortieth year by pursuing what inspires me and what expresses my most authentic self. I'd like to be an authentic self with a clean kitchen floor, but, baby steps. Toward that end I'm renewing my commitment to post more often. It may not be all classic material but I see what happens when I don't occasionally take dictation from the goofball voices in my head; I get crabby and snappy and resentful and scatterbrained. I've never been one of those people who 'forgets to eat', but I have been one of those people who 'forgets to laugh'. And that, my friends, is nae good.

I also wanted to pimp my other site, Your Basic Dare to Be Great Situation. I've struggled with the whole 'two different sites, or just one' deal for a while and I think that, at least for the time being, I am going to 'keep 'em separated', because not everyone wants to hear me bang on about escaping the diet mentality, making peace with my body, caring for it out of respect rather than shame, and all that happydoodle. Though if it interests you, its all there. I've gotten off wrongfooted a couple of times, so early posts reflect some old attitudes, but the times and my thinking are a' changing and all of it can be found over yonder.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fecal Matters

....or, why I should tell that Little Susie Sunshine volunteer in my head to shut the hell up once in a while.

It started innocently enough. Himself forwarded me an email from the Director of Religious Education at our church.

"Our confirmation luncheon is coming up next Saturday...and we need your help!" What followed was a laundry list of food items and dessert requests. What the heck, I thought, I can bang out a batch of cookies. I thought of the cookie press, usually hauled out for Christmas only. I seemed to remember that there was a butterfly disc in the kit. I imagined myself baking a batch of brightly colored, spring celebratin', Easter-y Resurrection-y cookies. Wouldn't that be just swell. I answered the email and put myself down for what would, no doubt, be a triumph of religious-themed bakery.

I knew there was a grid on the back of the food coloring box that indicated how many drops made all sorts of fancy colors. Aztec Blue! Peach! Ooooh! PURPLE! Yes, I thought, purple butterflies are just the thing. I mixed up the batter and dutifully counted drops.

I mixed.

And mixed.

And mixed. And then figured, what the heck, its a big batch of batter. So I carefully added the proportions again.

I need to pause and mention here that I satisfied my one obligatory art credit in college with basketweaving. My basketry was heavily subsidized with surreptitious application of hot glue. I never had to grapple with the subtleties of color-mixing. Otherwise I might have suspected that blue and red food coloring in cookie dough that is already pretty yellow from the addition of THREE STICKS OF BUTTER makes this:

Mmmm. Tasty.
The dough was starting to get a little loose. This did not contribute in any kind of positive way to the overall appeal. (Anyone who has a cookie press knows this is why you spend the better part of this particular phase of Christmas cookie preparation engaging equal parts Arbor Mist consumption and profanity that would make the most jaded teenagers blush.)

But I was tired. I figured my opinion on the matter was tainted. So I asked Himself. He came into the kitchen and said, "Oh my God, you can't send those to church. They look like poop." He was not using a scatological term to suggest that they were 'not up to snuff' or 'looked somewhat untidy'. He MEANT it.

"Nonsense, I replied, they'll be okay once I bake them."

Nope, even baked they held on to a shade somewhere between taupe and proctology sample. At best they looked as though they were lovingly fashioned out of liverwurst. I especially like how the unincorporated blue food coloring makes some of them appear as though they have veins AND poor circulation. Now there's something you want crumbling into your tea.

APPARENTLY the color chart on the back of the box is for EASTER EGG DYING. Who knew. So the cookies went in a big ziplock bag, which sits in our kitchen. I suggested to Himself that he can eat them in the dark, where in the glow of the television they don't look quite so meaty and menacing.

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Up for Grabs

ELMIRA-- In this curious bit of joint marketing, the Throwdown of Throwdowns is advertised.

My money's on the Handsome Fella on the left. The one with the wavy hair and the borderline-biker beard. The other dude's a little, well, Beelze-bubbly for my tastes.

I like the second line. "Who's gonna get it?" Though I note a distressing lack of a phone number or a website. You know, for people who don't know how to cast their vote for Biker Jesus or Pointy Headed Red Guy Fawkes Mask ...Guy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Yeah....its been like that. Bits of this stuck inside of bits of that....I drive and noodle around with ideas and look for fun stuff and wait for the magic to happen so I can come home and drop a fully formed blog post on ya. Sometimes its just that easy.

This seems to be one of those weeks where it isn't.

Ambulance duty has been quiet. Pop culture is leaving me cold. I never rant about health care or wars or TLC programs about people who procreate like its some sort of contest, so that's out. I'm trying to be a better housekeeper. My cat continues his romance with the feral female who occasionally sits on our front porch railing. (They mostly just stare at each other. He has neither the outside privileges nor the block and tackle to take it any further.)

My mad skillz as a weirdness magnet have not relented; I stopped in a grocery store a couple of days ago for a cup of coffee, having discovered after several failed attempts at actual service at the town's only restaurant (a McDonalds staffed by surly, indifferent youtes. How many times do you walk out of a Mc D's with no food before you give up on it entirely? The answer is three.) that the Tops just across the street had a Tim Horton's in it. The ride back to the office from there is sixty miles of poverty-line architecture and the occasional dump truck so a mid-afternoon bump is absolutely necessary to keep from having to pick bits of guardrail out of my front end. I was on the way out of the store with my cup of coffee and one snack item when I was confronted.

"HEY! Zis your cart?" he said, gesturing to a cart left in the middle of the aisle.
"No...I don't have a cart....just a coffee,"
"Well its in the way! Someone's going to trip over it!" He says this while angrily trying to drag it laterally to one side instead of, you know, rolling it. On the wheels.
"Its NOT MINE." I say, feeling antagonized at being yelled at for no reason. I'm really starting to think someone needs to test the water out there in the 814.
"Its IN the WAY!!"

At this point I seriously considered kicking him in the shins. I know that isn't a particularly kind response but being yelled at by a gap toothed yokel before I had even the first slurpy too-hot sip of my coffee was too much.

The weirdness isn't always confrontational; I was having a perfectly genteel cup of tea and a biscotti with a customer who, after knowing me about 11 minutes, was sufficiently comfortable with me to relate, in startling detail, the skill with which her favorite (though sadly, deceased) natural practitioner used to administer colonics.

Most of my folks are relentlessly normal; people of the princess canopy bed and scrapbooking set. Treadmills and cute throw rugs. I only had one recently that made me feel like I was in preproduction for an episode of COPS.

It started out innocently enough. A perfectly cheerful fellow called me and said his girlfriend needed to move 'right away'. I fit him in my day without an issue, it was on the way home.
As I cruise the block looking for the house number, I see it. Oh no please no don't let that be....dammit. It IS the house. The front porch looks like a Very Special Episode of Hoarders. I pick my way through the dozen bags of trash on the curb. A small pathway exists from the front steps to the front door. On one side, it is banked up with plastic bags of clothes, lawn ornaments, old magazines, and a piano. The other side is primarily porno tapes.

Yes, VHS porno tapes. Perhaps the neighbors have some kind of 'take one leave one' lending library, I think to myself. I knock tentatively on the door. I hope no one is home. Someone IS home. He comes out and explains blearily that what is on the porch is 'all that's goin', because apparently, his wife has absconded with the gentleman who called me to make the appointment. He explains to me, while idly scratching the spiderweb tattoo on his elbow, that he's been awake for two days straight gathering up her worldlies and throwing them on the porch. On the plus side, she got the piano, all the gnomes and, apparently, the entire 'Hot Asians' series.

I tried to take a photo of a poster the other day in Syracuse advertising the 'Canastota Psychic Fair' because it had a date on it, but no times. I guess people just KNOW. (If you are just a fan and not an actual psychic the times ARE on the website. Now I'm paranoid that they know I'm mocking them.) At any rate I was 1) too far away and 2) at a traffic light driving through Downtown Sketchyville because Route 81 is closed at 690W thanks to some chucklehead who owns a building that is about to fall down (and possibly spill its buildingy bits all over 81) but who doesn't think he's responsible to demolish it. Because its historic.

Spring is coming, and I'm sure new adventures will ensue. I'm sorry I didn't have some profound musing on St. Patrick's Day. Ireland is the only context in which I can ever be accused of having Republican leanings so I tend to shy away from the subject lest I end up explaining Why I'll Never Be Invited to the White House.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mountain Medicine

I've been sick.
It started innocently enough last Monday night; I came home wirh grand plans to go to the gym with Himself and I became aware that I had a bit of a sore throat. I made a cup of tea and dinner, did a yoga DVD, and generally got over myself. By Tuesday my nose was plugged up so completely that every swallow produced this disgusting 'snerk' and I was resorting to open mouth breathing to stay snerk free and keep my blood oxygen level somewhere in the 90s. Wednesday I stayed home.
I have to be careful when I get colds. I had walking pneumonia in college and ever since then, if I don't creep around and drink gallons of water and care for myself like a frail, fainting creature it all drains straight into my chest and sets up base camp to begin filming an IMAX film about bronchial infection. One bout of pneumonia was more than enough; I have no desire to spend another eight months taking theophylline (a delightful asthma medication with all the jittery excitement of double clutching on the yellow line heading eastbound and down with a trailerload and a deadline popping NoDoz like Pez) and sleeping propped up on pillows like the Elephant Man so I don't drown in my own gravy.
I've reached the downward side of this cold; the middle of my face no longer appears as if I rubbed it briskly with a microplaner and now that I don't have to fortify myself with night time cold medicine, the cast of Barney Miller has taken a merciful hiatus from my dreams. My consistent need to evict various nose goblins with fistfuls of Kleenex kept me out of the movies, not wanting to inflict my noises and juiciness on the ticket-buying public. But Sunday came, and I needed to go to church.
Himself advised me on the way in that we'd have to sit in the back, owing to his violent poinsettia allergy. We slipped into the pew normally reserved for the 'slightly late'. I took off my coat and indulged a quick succession of barking coughs that echoed off the rafters. The woman seated directly in front of us abruptly stood up and moved three rows ahead, which was apparently not enough of a disease barrier for her since she turned around and gave me a dirty look every time I coughed after that. I hoped she knew that the 'Passing of the Peace' was suspended so she wouldn't have to risk my cooties in the interest of sharing the love of Christ. Her place was taken by a Woman in a Hat.
You don't see too many of these anymore. Most of them are 'ladies of a certain age'....ladies who remember when all ladies wore hats in church. And gloves. I sat still, trying not to bark, admiring the silk roses and angel pin tacked on the faux fur. Himself said she had strong perfume on, but I couldn't smell it.
I whispered my way through the last verse of the last hymn and started putting on my coat. The Hat Lady turned around. I wondered idly what age ushers in the drawing of the eyebrows half an inch higher than they used to be.
"Are you the one with the cough?"
'Yep, that's me," I said, wondering where this was going.
"You know what you need to do? You need to get yourself a big bermuda onion, and cut it in half and put it in your bedroom. I've been doing that three years running and its worked every time. A nurse up at the hospital (oh, good God) told me about this."
"Well, um, thanks. I'll have to give that a try!"
We drove home. I don't have any onions. I wonder if a carrot would work.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Road Not Taken (On account of the corn)

Once in a while I experience a twinge of guilt, thinking perhaps my blog title here is a bit marginalizing and judgy, like, who am I anyway and this isn't so far out in the country and whatnot. Then I get directions to a party, which I reproduce here in all of their informational (and punctual) glory.

directions to Party

Take Rt.6 E to 287 N take the first left hand turn onto Marsh Creek Road

(this is across from the train station ,or toward Butlers where you buy

corn. Stay on Marsh Creek Road do not turn they did not get the corn picked)

Follow this road to just around the corner about a mile turn right onto Trailerpark
Lane. Ronnie has a navitiy scene and other lights in her yard
she is the only double wide.Parking in driveway and along the road.