Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Time is Write

I've missed this little corner or the internet. I had to do a google search for my own blog. It used to be on my top sites page nestled between Regretsy and Questionable Content, but it faded into oblivion and I've missed it.

It's strange that sometimes we have things that we love and want to do but other minutia of life gets in the way. A few hours cooking and cleaning or watering the plants and you lose all of your time for hobbies after work. I want to write, to knit, to finish that puzzle scrawled across the kitchen table. Then there's my long lost loves of painting and collage my intact magazines in the box in the living room must wonder what's wrong with me that they aren't being torn apart. And I think my paint is in an old lunchbox in the garage feeling unloved. Even reading has fallen by the wayside. A box of books in the living room cries to be held, feels neglected and withered. Wonders why I even picked them up at the bookstore if I was going to just throw them around. Even video games. Who has to assign a few hours of their day solely for video games. I do. Bioshock 2 is unfinished and I'm glad that Borderlands is an RPG that doesn't cost a monthly fee.

So much time drains into random perusing of the internet or just plain spacing out. I also have developed an Aspergers like obsession with Roller derby and everything that goes with it. I search for fish net tights and drool over the Riedell site. So many hours go into looking for bearings, wheels, and of course - the perfect and untaken name. Then of course there's all the time I spend actually skating. It's refreshing and amazing and quite apparently addicting. I plan to write in the future all about this fantastic, consuming sport.

So here I am, wishing I could write more, create more, and simply have more time in the day to do things I love. I know that most of my hobbies don't take a lot of time: a few minutes to write, an hour for knitting or gaming. Spending the odd spare moment at the kitchen table fitting together puzzle pieces. But for some reason it all seems so intangible. So distant. Time seems to be working against me and idleness keeps winning. I'm trying to make it more of an urgency to do the things I love, before I look back on weeks and months spent wishing I was doing things. That was the person I was in the past. The person that wished they were living a life they loved but I want the person I am today to spend every moment blissfully involved in something that makes me feel wonderful and alive. It seems like a good idea and a reasonable goal to hold as I turn 24. I want this documentation of my life. A life lived fully and with a lot to show for it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why you Should Always Wear a Bra

Did your mother ever tell you to wear clean underwear?

You never know what's going to happen.
Well I would offer this same advice to my mother, but concerning breast-related lingerie.

In the South, if it gets cold enough that it might snow, if three flurries fall from the sky and land near concrete - then the city will shut down. This year, it shut down for a record breaking two days. Having lived in the South most of my life, I have never once missed two consecutive days of school due to inclement weather, but this year it happened. The miracle every Southern kid wishes for all holiday long. Snow. Sort of. It was more like sleet. More like a complete and total white mess. And more like claustrophobic cabin fever to me. Upon hearing about the second day I was in agony. Mental anguish. I'm the type of person who has to be doing something at all times. The type of person who works six and a half hours a day, obtains a Master's degree, plans lesson, and takes a starring role in a community theatre play. So the idea of staying at home for two days in a row was pure, sadistic torture. The first day was alright. I looked at my lines. I read a little of a book (a kid's book that I'm absolutely sloshing through), I did some of my school work, I finished a sweater that was way too small for me, ranted and raved about the sweater, then ended the day with some hardcore zombie massacre- until I managed to steer my avatar out of a second story window and kill her. Then I went to bed dreading the next "snow" day.

Well I woke up and tried to improve my attitude. I had time to do all my school work, work on some lines. Maybe if I took a shower today when I got up instead of languishing around in my pajamas I would feel a little better. Hopefully I would have play rehearsal that night to look forward to. So I bunkered down in front of my Macbook, plugged in my headphones and zoned into iTunes. I finished  a week's worth of College reading complete with diligent highlighting and research or Hindi. I wrote a very impassioned post for my discussion board and I was ready to start hitting my script when I heard my mom announce to her own mother that she had cut herself with a rotary cutter. For those of you who don't know what that is, imagine a pizza cutter combined with a switch blade knife. It's a wheel shaped razor that slices fabric like wet napkins.

I called to my mom and asked if she was ok. I was imagining a small cut and the shock of seeing blood and realizing that she did indeed cut herself. I thought a band aid would suffice. She called back that she didn't think so and that's when I knew there was a problem. She said she thought we would have to go to the Emergency Room so I readied myself and the house. I turned Millionaire Matchmaker off of the TV and I put on my coat and boots and rushed about gathering hers. I put our Basset Hound in his Kennel only to hear the barking of our Shih-tzu outside. I ran to the door to get him in and the cat snuck in unbeknownst to me. I gathered up my script and high lighter imagining a packed emergency room filled with people crowding in for heat and complaining of headaches, sniffles, or other psychosomatic symptoms. I found out the cat was in when he gave his mournful meow. I went about ushering him out of the house then rushed to get my keys.

"Wait", my mom said. "I can't go dressed like this."
She was wearing a decent looking pajama shirt and sweats.
"Yes you can, come on."

I did more rushing around and preparing including running out to the sewing room to see if there were any pools of blood to clean up. There were none. The house would be safe from vampires... tonight.

"Come here and look at it"
This was the moment I was dreading. I didn't want to look at it. This was the reason I chose to be a teacher and not a nurse. I didn't want to look at people's wounds, I wanted to usher them off to the nurse or tell them to put a band-aid on it and walk it off. She removed the napkin that had acted as gauze the whole time and there was a lot of blood (of course) and something that looked like a piece of nail in her skin. I told her it looked like it would get infected and nail fragments may need to be removed from the wound.

Then she called my dad. He said to put a band aid on it. I went to put the band aid on and it became apparent that blood would immediately soak through the bandage. That wasn't going to work. I realized that she'd need ID and insurance, so I ran out to get it and maybe warm up the car and move it to a better place for my mom to get in. I would also have to turn off the radio because I don't think my mom would like the Darjeeling Limited soundtrack. As I was doing this, my mom called from the door that she thought it had stopped bleeding. She took the napkin off again and we saw that what was first thought to be a piece of nail was a good sized chunk of skin. Then the bleeding started again. I told her to let me wash it, she vigorously refused. I told her to at least let me put Neosporin on the band aid this offer was turned down as well. The panacea she did use? "Let me call my mom". I told her I knew what she was going to say. She was going to say go to the Hospital. Indeed after a few short minutes, the consensus was that my mom needed to go to the hospital, something I'd been trying to tell her for twenty minutes.

Then the truth came out, the real reason she didn't want to go to the hospital. The real reason she wouldn't wear pajama pants and sweats to an emergency room visit. "I have to put a bra on". I rifled through a basket of freshly folded clothes until I found one and rushed into the bathroom to help her. Modestly prevailed. She insisted she put it on without help as much as she could. She did this, covered herself, then asked me to help fasten it. She wanted to change her pants, but this time I refused. She insisted on changing out of her wooly socks and into some sports socks and needed help putting her shoes on. I handed her her coat and finally she was ready to go. Keep in mind that all this time she has been swaddling a profusely bleeding finger with a napkin. And preparing to go to the emergency room was an ordeal that lasted as long as a Real Housewives episode.

Finally we were out the door and in the car. My mom gave me lots of tips on how to drive, which road to take, and how to obey simple traffic laws. I was nervous because, well I was driving my mom to the hospital (well we decided last minute to go to the Medstop because although it would be filled with people who were legitimately sick, it would also not be filled with families who came for the free heat) I was even more nervous though, because I was driving my mother. My mom is the most nervous car-rider known to man. She freaks out if other cars get to close, if you stop too hard, or turn too quickly. She freaks out if you're going too fast or too slow and if you're following too closely or lagging too far behind the car in front of you. And she was sure to give me lots of instructions on proper driving. So finally we were at the Medstop and upon showing her mutilated finger to the nurse, my mom was escorted immediately to the back to await a doctor. The nurse rinsed it with water (which gave me some satisfaction because it was my suggestion back home) and I watched as the doctor sterilized and stitched (just one stitch) her hand.

All in all it turned out alright. Mom got to the doctor and got the medical attention she needed. But if she would have just worn a bra in the first place, we could have been there and back home a lot sooner. Also, if you spend your afternoon looking at a gaping wound, chili may not be the best choice for dinner. The color is a little too close to blood and the bursting kidney beans look a little bit like tiny fingers if you really think about it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Is our fear of TSA a fear of T&A?

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you know about the scandal about the TSA scanners at airports across the country. I must play devil's advocate for a moment and admit that I've never been on a plane before (well once when I was a baby, but I can't say I remember it). So I'm completely unfamiliar with the stark reality of the Distopyian Big Brother processes of boarding a plane. I've walked through a couple of metal detectors in my day when my grandma was about to leave by plane, but I have no idea of the apparent molestation occurring at most airports today. So if I seem heartless, maybe I'm just naive and my opinion doesn't matter. Airports today are made out in the media and in people's frantic conversations as an Orwellian procedure that rivals that of the Half Life series. What's next? Flying cameras monitoring our every room? Happy pills like in THX1138? Mouse hats like 1984 (OK, I know it was more sinister than a mouse hat, but it sounds funnier that way)? 

It seems like to me if there was an option between taking a picture, a vague image of my body underneath my sheath of clothes or being patted down in unmentionable places, I would pick the body scan. It's nothing they haven't seen before and the worst possible thing that could happen is that someone thinks you look good naked. If they thought you looked bad, they'd promptly delete the picture and never speak of it again. And if people can derive any type of enjoyment from a ghostly bluish specter, well then that's their problem not mine. America is known for being increasingly obese. Known for the most fast food per capita. But we've got it all wrong. So what if we're gorging on french fries and mayonnaise? It doesn't matter how we look, it matters how we feel. And we feel ashamed of our bodies. So much so that the thought of someone seeing the outline of our curves and crevices would prompt us to undergo a thorough, uncomfortable examination saved for most doctor's visits but in public. People are crying outrage over a choice they made. In ancient Greece people did almost everything naked including the Olympic games. Many famous art pieces are nudes. And the overwhelming number of nude portraits of women compared to that of paintings done by women has even prompted an underground movement known as the Guerilla Girls. 

Maybe our own fear and self loathing has something to do with the fact that those women looked like this:

And today's standard of beauty looks like this:

At the weight of most good-sized labrador retrievers and the height of around five and a half feet, the second image makes me second guess ordering fries with that veggie burger. If this is what most women think they should look like, it's no wonder that they are intimidated by the fact that a machine will show that they have outward curves as well as inward ones. Even if a woman's body looks perfect after alterations, what if the scan showed their scars? Revealed their secrets? You would have to seriously love your body to let a stranger see it when the media onslaught tells us that thin is in. 

Men are not excluded from these body expectations. Now men are either expected to be skinny or have every muscle tightened and toned (please note that I personally find none of the guys in the linked images attractive). Right now, I'm sitting at Starbucks (this is bound to be a common motif in my blog posts) at a table next to a group of male patrons. They are discussing their size and one of them is telling another that he needs to accept the fact that he is "bigger" and "chubby" and identifying himself and a friend as skinny.  So my proof that men face these issues of body dysmorphia as well as women didn't take much research to prove. 

So we either need to loosen the protocol of airports today (which would most likely result in comparable or more intense outrage) or we have to learn to love our bodies. Sadly, we're more likely as a nation to chose to remove a slight inconvenience (although when it was inconvenient to a certain minority, we didn't seem to have much of a problem) over learning to love ourselves curves and all and fight for change in mass media. If no one bought magazines with pictures like the one above, supported programs that cast only skinny women, or bought products marketed by waifish models; then a more realistic body type would become the norm. Much like my disbelief that someone would chose an invasive search over a passive scan, I find it hard to believe we would chose a lack of safety over an acceptance of ourselves. But that's the world we are living in now. We want to eat our burgers, but look like Kate Moss. We want to end terrorism, but not at our inconvenience. And quite possibly, we want to complain about the state of things in our nation, but not do anything about it. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

You Say I gotta go to Teahab I say no, no, no

Mr. Garner, your family has brought you here today because you have a problem. They all love you and care deeply about you and they are here because of that. They are here to talk to you about your addiction. It's getting out of hand. 

My dad has a problem. He is a compulsive tea hoarder. My dad tends to get into little hobbies that become obsessions. Obsessions that fill cabinets in our kitchen. First it was spices. It went on that dad would collect various spices and keep them in the cabinet above the stove. This combined with his love of spicy food ended up in the confiscation and eventually hiding many of his favorite spices. First there was Old Bay- a spicy seafood seasoning that made a shrimp dish into an unbearable curry-esque concoction. Then there was Montreal seasoning- a sea salt and pepper combo that ended up in absolutely everything so that the family got sick of the stuff and withheld it until he promised to only use it on his portions of dishes and it sits beside the salt and pepper on the kitchen table to serve this purpose.

Because of Dad's love of spices, I bought him a coffee grinder for his birthday. I assumed that he could use it to grind spices, or since he loves black coffee in the morning, he could use it for its intended purpose. He chose to use it for coffee and fell in love with the way that fresh ground coffee tastes in comparison to his old brew. Which is fine, coffee beans last a long time. But Dad took on the mission of trying all different flavors of coffee fresh ground and our cabinet began to fill with bags of coffee beans from various places.

Then there was tea. No one really knows where the obsession started, but I point back to the day when an abandoned cabinet at his work was cleaned out to reveal that it contained three pouches of expensive imported teas. Dad bought them home and marveled at their lose-leaf flavors. Then boxes and tins of tea started to fill the cabinet beside the collection of spices and coffee. Dad comes home from a late band practice (instruments- saxophones in particular being another of his obsessions) with a sandwich for dinner and a tin of Roobios. Each new tea comes with a call to the family to come and taste the new blend. He will describe the flavor of it. Say simply, "it's good" then ask everyone if they want a cup. Usually to the point of the person relenting and having a cup of tea. So for Christmas I got him a tea chest from Starbucks (one of my obsessions that I manage to keep in the store). I thought this would quell the obsession for a while. That he would spend time with his variety of teas. Exploring them and enjoying their flavors until the chest began to empty and then he would fill it with the teas he had in the cabinet. Then, when that ran out, he would find new teas to put in the chest. But the plan didn't work out that way. He returned from the commissary today with three new boxes of tea one of which is a flavor included in the chest I gave him. And he lamented that the store didn't carry his other favorite flavor that he could use to restock his stash, which is in no way diminishing but instead becoming eternal.

I guess I can't complain too much, our kitchen will always be bountiful and interesting  and I guess there are worse things to be hoarding and this collection is for the most part non-invasive. Plus green tea and honey is a nice way to finish out the evening.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


So it's a new year. That's usually something that fills me with dread or at the best apathy. This year feels different though. This is the first year I've had clear resolutions that I'm actually excited about. Those are read more, write more, and be more confident. For the first two, I moved my computer across the room to my desk instead of taking it to bed with me. So when I'm looking for something to unwind with before I fall asleep, I'll have to pick up a book. Which I will keep by my bedside. To help with writing I've started this blog and my goal is to write something in it everyday (or write something elsewhere). I've decided my blog will be about knitting, a vegetarian diet, feminism, and sometimes my day to day life. Sometimes it will be funny, entertaining stories. Sometimes rants, sometimes anecdotes, but always related to my life and what's important for me. I'm blogging for myself, as a journal, and for anyone who would happen to want to read it. While part of me hopes to become a smash cult phenomenon it's more important to me to just have something here than to gain a readership.

My last goal is the hardest resolution I've come up with. I resolved to quit eating red meat 5 years ago and I never looked back. 3 years ago, I quit eating meat altogether and never thought twice about it. But confidence has been a life long struggle. I've spent twenty three years putting myself down and feeling down and out about what other people have that I don't (usually a social life and a relationship). But last night, I decided to not be that person any more. I've heard people say again and again that men are attracted to confidence. I never knew if I believed that. But last night I waked into a club downtown like I owned it. I kept my head up and made eye contact with men who looked my way. I smiled. I danced. I had a great time. Last time I went to the very same place I looked around me and I thought that all of the girls there were prettier than me. I was held back by this fear that my ex dumped me because I wasn't pretty enough or wasn't somehow good enough for him. When in reality, he was dealing with his own issues and it probably had nothing to do with me. I found myself nearly in tears for a good part of the night. But last night, I felt like I was one of those girls. I looked over at girls dancing with boys and laughed as we all danced like idiots. It was a wonderful experience feeling like I deserved and had a right to be there as much as anyone else. And yes, I danced with men but it didn't really matter. I was just there to dance, have fun, and feel amazing and I did.

In the movie Black Swan, Natalie Portman's character discovers that the only thing that has been holding her back from playing the seductress role (that was so unlike her personality) was herself. I felt a powerful connection with this revelation that she makes. That's always been my trauma in life. I always had so much potential, so much to offer, and so much going for me; but I always insisted on bringing myself down. I found an instant message exchange between my ex and I and I was shocked at how negative, self loathing, and histrionic I was about small situations that resolved themselves so easily later. I felt a sense of shame and embarrassment as I saw myself through their eyes. They were unable to ultimately see all of my redeeming and wonderful qualities because I failed to. If I would have realized this sooner, I could have probably saved those relationships. But relationships fail so both partners can learn a lesson about themselves and it took a few relationships for me to see my most major flaw. If anyone reads this and they know me in real life, they'll most likely be saying "I told you so" but so many things have to be discovered on your own for you to really believe them. I'm not promising perfection or to never get down on myself again. Old habits die hard. But I'm promising to always remember what it feels like to shed all of that doubt and to feel powerful. What it feels like to grow wings.