Friday, July 30, 2010


In the course of reading why Feminism is a tool of Satan (really), and how it's a horrible thing for our society, I came across this older article from December 2002. Written by Phyllis Schlafly, it's about "Feminist Fantasies" and how feminist organizations are out to ruin the world with their nefarious "equality" plots and demands - words like emasculating, sabotage, and radical litter the entire thing. It's pretty nauseating, actually. (Schlafly's public record - being one of the chief opponents to the ERA, her pro-death penalty for minors stance, and her paleoconservate views - weren't exactly benefits to the article's cause either, for me.)

At one point she's talking about the National Council of Women's Organizations fight to make the Augusta National Golf Club (home of the Masters tournament) truly a coed organization. She, of course, disapproves and is lauding the efforts of the club's owner to prevent this from happening. In the course of the discussion, she says (emphasis mine):
The feminists tried to use Tiger Woods, who won the Masters in 2002 for the third time, as a prop in their publicity stunt to advance their special-interest agenda. When asked what he thinks about Augusta National's rules, Tiger replied with the good sense that has made him a star and a role-model: "They're entitled to set up their own rules the way they want them.

Don't you just hate it when something you've written comes back to bite you on the ass? I wasn't buying anything she was saying up till that point (shocker - I actually think feminism is a good thing!), but after that, I just couldn't help laughing. Really, really hard.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Yesterday I went floating in a pool

you will think that this is no big deal, until I tell you that the last time I owned a bathing suit was 1997, when I went to Disney World with my friends after I graduated from high school. I still do not own a suit, and went floating in the pool wearing a skirt, my bra, underwear and a tank top. It did not matter, because it felt heavenly.

I never really learned how to swim: When my mom signed me up for lessons at the Y (at my insistence), I was ten years old, a slightly chubby brainiac that frequently still wore my hair in pigtails, played with School with her sisters and was completely useless without my glasses. Of course, the first thing they did was tell us to change, and to stow our personal gear - "This means glasses too!" - in the lockers. My best friend was also taking the class with me, and was kind enough to lead me out of the locker room and into the shallow end of the pool. To say that my vision without my glasses is hazy is a major understatement. I can see shapes - people sized blobs of mushed together colors, fuzzy colors with no defined edges. I could see my friend's face, if she was the one bobbing in the water next to me, but I couldn't have picked her out of the line of young bodies that floated around. We had our own secret game of Marco Polo going on, even before the lessons started.

And what an illuminating and educational lesson it was: A large man - the high school swim coach - came out of the locker room and sat in a lifeguard's chair. Then he threw a bunch of plastic rings into the pool and told us to go get them. "Dive if you want to, tiptoe over if you don't, but go down there and get them." End of lesson. I spent the entire time trying to see a darker blue blob at the bottom of the moving lighter blue blob, failing over and over again to retrieve my ring because A) it was at the bottom and I was at the top not knowing how to get to the bottom without drowning and B)the blob that I thought was a ring was in fact paint on the bottom of the pool, so I just wasted all my breath to get down there for nothing. For one hour every Friday for six weeks, my friend tried to drag me around to the location of a ring, I would claw my way down to get it, bob back up and then we'd hold on to the edge of the pool for dear life, waiting for the class to be over so we could go home. Between that and my uncle throwing me into a pond and telling me I'd pick it up once I was in the water, I figured I'd never be able to swim.

Eventually though, I put together the basics on my own - arms and legs both need to be moving, try rotating your head so you can breathe every now and then - but swimming will never be my forte.

But yesterday I waited until the sun went away and the shade covered the yard, after the kids had finished all of their major splashing and the adults had had their pool time as well. Then I slipped into the middle of my sister-in-law's pool, (to the shock of my brother in particular) laid on my back and floated. It was the most peaceful I've felt in a very long time, and I was reminded that I used to like the water (initial swimming experiences excluded). It's so quiet and calming, and honestly, my body feels so different in the water.

The weightlessness is part of it, sure: it's easier to move all the stiff and sore parts of me - they feel more connected to each other and less likely to rebel: It's almost as if I've got my dancer's body back - one that responds to the moves I want it to make automatically and with little protest. I'm still in pain, but it's just like someone turned it down a notch, and if I could've stayed in that water all day - every day - I would've.

I splashed around a little with Lil Girl (who is a fish), and floated as long as I could, but even though the pain had dimmed a bit, other issues were still making themselves known. I got a rash from either the chlorine or the sun, just one big patch of it on my thigh, who knows why (it's itchy as all get out today). And my pulse was hammering away the way it does when I try to stand up - being upright, even in water makes all the lovely blood pumping away slow down and my heart tries to speed it back up, and the ultimate conclusion to all that is that I pass out, which I really didn't want to do in the pool, so my peace was short lived. And the getting out reminded me of why it's been so long since I've been in a pool. Because all of that freedom and flowing stops as soon as I put my butt on the steps and try to scootch out... I'd rather live in the water forever than try to do that again.

Add in an unexpected breathing issue that popped up - Lil Girl kept making me go all the way under so she could show me her flips and wave and whatever. I forgot that I can't hold my breath very long anymore. (Hello: Asthma!) I had to use my inhaler twice yesterday, and today my lungs are wheezing and my chest feels like I got kicked by a mule. "Call the doctor" my mom suggested. "And say what," was my reply: "I held my breath too long and now I'm hurting?" Even I can't tell them that. It'll go away eventually, but it's another harsh reminder that everything I do has a price.

So it had it's drawbacks, but I'm not sure I wouldn't do it again. It was worth seeing Lil Girl with her goggles on and a mile wide smile. To float on my back and feel dainty and delicate and like nothing in the world could be heavy. To look up at the clouds and remember that the world is going to keep turning whether I'm participating or not. It was nice to participate, and since I have all week to recuperate, I'll deal with the consequences.

In the meantime, want to see a fish?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Let's talk a little

My mind lately seems to be going at about triple it's normal speed. Frantic, speed-brain, for some reason. It's strange, really, because things are relatively calm (or what passes for it in my family anyways), and yet I can't get my stupid brain to slow down long enough for me to grip on to anything. Or - alternately - I get hold of something and just can't let it go.

July started off OK - I even took the month off from doctors, because all the news was bad and painful and just more of the same and I couldn't think about it anymore. But of course it hasn't stopped me from thinking about it: At the very least though, by taking the time off, I couldn't be poked or prodded or asked stupid questions about it anymore.

And then my brother and sister-in-law took the kids to the Cape for a week, and were too lazy to drive them up for a few days before that, and all of the "good summer fun with the kids" I had planned to cram into my month (and my mind) instead turned into "days of doing nothing but sitting around thinking about my life." These days were not nearly as much fun as the ones I had anticipated. Left with entirely too much time to ponder at least two major family situations (one of which has blown over and another that continues on without any solution to be seen), my own non-improving health and relationships situations, and the fact that yesterday was the anniversary of my father's death (not to mention a very rude person who treated it as if, because my father and I did not get along, this anniversary should be pretty meaningless to me); it's been an unexpectedly emotional time. There's just all this stuff, and I feel like I need energy to sift through it, and I haven't got the energy - emotional or physical - that god gave a gnat, so it's all heavy lifting.

It's all heavy lifting.

And I don't, as usual, realize how heavy, really, until I sit here with my fingers tapping away trying to explain why I haven't posted anything lately, or taken pictures of the gorgeous kids or why I've signed up for at least three projects this summer that I haven't even begun to consider, let alone start. Until I sit here and let my fingers start talking, I let my brain rev itself up into a frenzy, and don't realize that not saying anything, not posting anything is part of the trouble.

So here's some more of what I've been toting around, this week particularly -

We've been attempting to clean out Nana's storage: Yes, 2 years is a long time to pay storage fees, but when you roll up that door and the smell - her smell - hits you, I would gladly pay for another two years just to not have to sit there and sift through the contents of her life while my uncle - who is clueless - natters on about "Goodwill" and "Junk" and my mother and aunt try to move as quickly as possible so we can just leave already, and all I want to do is sit there with a box of stuff opened around me and absorb it into my skin. I've been taking pictures and saving things from the scrap bin; trying to hold all my emotions in in case my mom needs to let hers out.

I'm in that tiny little hallway, with it's concrete floors and neon orange doors, watching as box after box after box comes out. When my uncle pops out one of the windows on my grandmother's dollhouse (they're plastic and pop back in), I bite my tongue and control my need to scream about how important it is to fix it Right Away! I watch my aunt take a box of china she shouldn't be lifting and wrap it up so clumsily that it's sure to be in pieces the next time we open the box, but I don't say anything: I just wait till she turns around and slide the box in my direction, re-wrap it when she heads out for a cigarette. When my mom opens a box with baby shoes in it - shoes that Nana had lovingly wrapped in tissue paper, for her 'baby' who died twenty years before she did - mom doesn't cry, so I don't cry.

See, I know that this stuff is not my Nana, and that - in all honesty - she couldn't really have cared about the majority of it: glasses that lived in cabinets, tea sets made of gold that never made it to the table, knickknacks from places she never traveled to, lots of things that said 'grandma' because stuff that said 'nana' was so much harder to find. She wouldn't mind if we tossed all that out, would actually have done it herself if she'd have thought about us having to do it now.

But I also know that there are memories to be found here - not just my memories, but everyones - and so I feel like I have to safeguard them - for my mom, who isn't thinking anything except "get me out of here"; for all the grandchildren who can't be in that dark little hallway with me, and for all the great grandchildren - here now and to come - who never got a chance to know just how awesome a lady they missed out on.

So I sit there, allergies acting all renegade and body too sore to take breaths, it seems, setting aside a porcelain cat for one sister, a rogue leprechaun for my brother, a picture of himself that my cousin has probably never seen. Some of this stuff means something to me, some of it doesn't but I'm determined not to let the "one thing" that somebody would have wanted get tossed in a box for Goodwill. I feel like the only person there capable of remembering that this isn't just stuff, it has value to someone, and they should at least have the chance to say "No, you can toss that" or "Oh my god, I totally remember this!" So I click the shutter on my camera again and again and again, hoping that I'm capturing the something somebody wants, before I repack the boxes and watch my uncle roll his eyes again.

It's just heavy lifting.

And I try to be gentle with myself, try to say: Even though it doesn't seem like right now is a busy time, you are doing a lot of work. But it doesn't always sink in, because part of my heavy lifting is the way I think about myself, the way I don't give myself credit for the things that I do, the way I beat up on myself for all the things I don't do. It's a tricky line, I think - to hold yourself accountable without tearing yourself apart. (At least it is for me.)

I read, somewhere, in a recent blog post of somebody's, that one of the rules to remember in blogging is that your blog is not your best friend. If you feel like you need to vent, pick up the phone, don't complain to your audience or they'll stop coming back. I think that's probably good advice, but I don't know that I can follow it. I appreciate it, honestly, with my whole heart, that you people come back time and again to read things like this, where my head is a spinning top and my heart feels cracked open.

I won't say that I don't have people in my life who would listen, if I started talking, because I do, but it's different to write it here, freer somehow. Saying what I need to say to get my head back on straight is a large part of what's kept me writing for so long at this blog, and - while it may be the reason I don't have a zillion followers - it's also part of the reason that I cherish the followers I do have.

So, now that I feel somewhat normal again, what's going on with you all? I know somebody has a new job (YAY Ms J!!!) and other people are dealing with their own brands of chaos (Hope the bed rest is going well, Laurie!). I hope that you're all enjoying your weekend, come what may, and I promise to write again soon. (And less emotionally jumbled, hopefully.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Reading Round-up & Linkage!

Here are some Very Interesting Posts & Quotes I have read in the last little while. I thought I would share some accumulated wisdom, and if you have any to share, please feel free to post it in the comments:

Future Feminist Librarian-Activist has written a fabulous post about seeing parenting not as a project or a job, but as building a relationship with another person -
I say, just quit. Quit your job and go find a relationship. With that person who you're interested in being intimate with as they grow and discover the full strength of their humanity. Who knew this would be such a radical suggestion?

Kate Inglis, over at Sweet/Salty shares her wisdom on things NOT to say to others:
For the sake of humility, do this. Do not presume we influence our fates in a way that implies the failure of others to influence theirs. Let's respect change, either way, and do our best to walk towards it and accompany one another through it with dignity.

Havi, at The Fluent Self, has been talking about being stuck in the middle, (which is where I often feel I am languishing), and how to get unstuck. This line in particular struck home for me:
You meet yourself with love. Or: you meet your inability to meet yourself with love.
That second part? Is me all over. Which reminds me of this -

Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer

Hope you are all out living your lives today, if you've got something I should read, leave me a link!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Best shots - 2 for the price of 1

Here are two of my best shots from the last little while -

Here's Lil Girl, down at the beach. Since Auntie and sunlight are not friendly, we sat up under the bandstand and blew bubbles that floated down to the ocean. Then the kids collected shells and rocks, and we ate pizza and drank Shirley Temples. It was the very definition of a fine summer day.

And here's another recent favorite - (No Longer) Youngest Nephew, reading along with the Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets book on tape. I love this picture for so many reasons: The fact that he was voluntarily reading; The fact that he'd never used actual tapes before and I had to instruct him on how to flip it over and press play (even though it made me feel ancient); The fact that, since the spring, he's powered through three of the books, and he's as excited as I am about part one of The Deathly Hallows coming out in November. It's just an all around favorite.

So there are the two kids I'm spending most of my time with this summer; Don't forget to head over to Tracey's place to check out who she's spending her summer with, and the rest of the Best Shots.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

It's been weeks and weeks,

actually probably closer to two plus months, since I've participated in My Best Shot Monday, but I'm planning on contributing tomorrow. Our new days with the kiddos mean I won't get a post up till after they leave, but I'm determined to post something. Hence this really useless post that only serves as motivation for me not to 'forget' or be 'too tired' to post tomorrow. Commit to an action publicly, they say, and you're more likely to follow through. I tend to agree, when it comes to myself, that if I haven't said "I will do...." then I can convince myself to just put in on hold indefinitely. So: Tomorrow a picture! Of something! Or someone! Let's all be surprised together. :gulp:

Friday, July 09, 2010

Points of order

Point the First - This weekend is a Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family. I am 31 years old, and I have already seen all of the Harry Potter movies, multiple times. I own them, and could watch them without commercials, whenever I so chose.... I will still have channel 26 on in the background for the next three days, and may or may not be reciting lines as I go from one room to the other. (Am. Can't help it: "Even in the wizarding world hearing voices isn't a good sign".) My sister, the one who reads my blog (at least I think she still does: it isn't as if I've been writing all that much lately), said the other day that she thought maybe she was "over" the Harry Potter movies, or something similar to that. I, on the other hand, am trying to convince one of my sisters - any sister, really - that we have to go to the midnight show of the next movie (and maybe the last one too). I've also watched the trailer for The Deathly Hallows Pt1 approximately 14 times. I am pretty sure I will be heartbroken when all the movies are finally out and there are no more new ones to wait for: I was with the books. ("The Boy Who Lived, Come To Die.")

Point the Second - Since this is the Summer Of No Whining, I am only going to briefly mention that it is quite hot in the northeast at this present time. That's all - it is quite hot, no additional comment necessary.

Point the Third - Tomorrow I am going to try scrapbooking, for the first time in many, many (too many) months. I am quite far behind, and know I will spend a great deal of the day reorganizing my equipment and stock and stuff, before I will get to any actual creating. That is my least favorite part, because every time I think I have it all sorted out, I buy something else that there is no spot for, and then I have to start all over again. (And other times, I am too exhausted to do this organizing, so I fall further and further behind.) But I do have about 10-15 ideas on my scrap list, so if I get to the point where I can start, I have some good beginnings to work from.

Point the Fourth - I have no point the fourth besides: Have a great weekend, everybody.

Oh - and Point the Fifth: Congratulations to Ms. Janice on her brand new job! We knew you would find something, and that you'll be awesome at it! Best of Luck, chica!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I know the internet doesn't care

about the heat, but my body does. Other things it cares about that I would rather it didn't: the smell of food cooking in neighbor's yards; the smell of photos that have been living in a smoking house for 30 years; the smell of low tide, over a mile away; any smells, ever, in my immediate vicinity; our new summer schedule with the kids (MWF); the damn sun; every movement I have to make; about a thousand other things.

I find that I am easily, easily frustrated right now, and I hate it: I feel whiny and petulant and ungrateful. Nothing is horrifically wrong - nothing new is happening, and yet, the fact that my face isn't better, the fact that I'm too exhausted to help the kids check things off our "Stuff we want to do this summer" checklist, the fact that the incessant humming drone of the air conditioner is driving me batty - it's all making me feel cranky.

We don't have the kiddos till Friday this week, since their parents have some vacation days this week, and so I've little distraction from my crankiness, and that makes me feel even more ridiculous, because I'm depending on a 10 year old and a 4 year old to distract me. They are a great distraction, though...

You wouldn't know it by this post, but we've had to declare this the Summer of No Whining at our house, because Lil Girl is smack in the middle of a very whiny phase. (Says the woman who just whine-typed for five minutes straight. Does it count if it's on the internet?) She's catching on pretty quickly - since we can't hear whining, she doesn't get what she wants, so she changes her strategies swiftly.

Aside from the whining - and fights over who gets to sit where in the car that I remember all too well from my own childhood, and NOW I get why we all eventually had assigned seats - they've been great so far. They usually are, but now that they're getting older, we're trying to schedule more outings... having them (and us) all cooped up in the house all day everyday is just asking for trouble.

Last week I sat on the bandstand at the beach while Mum and the children wandered around looking for shells and rocks (They brought home quite the collection). We watched planes come in (Logan's right past the beach), had lunch, blew bubbles, and decided to come back for ice cream next time.

It was a pretty great day.

I was going to add a "but" to that last sentence, but I'd rather not: No more whining. Besides, it was a pretty great day, and I need to remember that part, let the rest of it all go. Let the Summer of No Whining commence, and help me to remember that it applies to grown ups and not just four-year-olds.