Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fashion Plate

Fashion Plate

a person who consistently wears the latest style in dress.

Fashion has been on my mind lately because, thanks to a new doctor, I am now taking a medicine to replace what my under active thyroid is not producing, and, as a result, have lost 15 pounds and counting.

I would jump up and down for joy except that my pants would fall down around my ankles.

I have dropped two clothing sizes and one clothing department. What I mean is that I no longer have to shop in the “hopelessly devoid of anything resembling fashion” WOMEN’S DEPARTMENT. I can go back to shopping in the Misses Department.

Now please understand, I am not and never have been, as defined above, a fashion plate. I go for classic styles, dressier rather than casual. What that means in my suburban world is that I prefer suits for work and wrap tops (silk) and heels (kitten) with my (straight leg, dark denim wash) jeans, while others are wearing some kind of non-jean pants with some kind of top for work, and faded jeans with athletic shoes everywhere else. So yes, I am somewhat more fashion-y than those around me. That doesn’t make me a fashion plate. Maybe a fashion fork? Or a fashion goblet? But definitely not a plate.

But I would like to have had clothing more stylish than I found in the WOMEN’S DEPARTMENTS of the stores in my suburban mall. It was pure torture to walk past the Misses Department and see all the nice fabrics and prints and styles, only to reach the WOMEN’S DEPARTMENTS and see nothing even faintly resembling attractive clothing. Who decided that a size 16 WOMAN couldn’t wear the same luscious print that a size 16 Missy could? Only a few pounds separate the two sizes. Who decided that all WOMEN could or would want to wear prints so large that they resemble a map of the world – life size? Who decided that WOMEN don’t deserve to have a waist, so all tops are made to hang straight down in front from the tips of our boobs, changing our shapes to something resembling the box my clothes dryer came packaged in? Or even worse, have gathered bust lines so that we all look fourteen months pregnant.

I ended up doing most of my clothes shopping on QVC, one of the shopping networks. Almost every article of clothing that they offer comes in sizes from XS to 3X. So thank you, QVC, for providing fashionable styles that WOMEN are not ashamed to be seen in.

In the mean time, I bought three pairs of straight leg, dark denim wash jeans in my new size, and those will have to do as I (hopefully) continue to lose weight. Thank goodness my new job allows wearing jeans to work.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When life gives you lemons

In light of my last post I thought I should introduce you to my best friend in the whole world. In this blog I will call her Teddi Bear. And this is her sign: When life gives you lemons, smile politely and throw them away when life isn’t looking.

I have known Teddi for twenty plus years. She is the biggest reason I don’t run screaming up and down the aisles. She is always available for comfort, for advice, and for a smack upside the head when I need it.

Since we haven’t lived in the same town for most of those twenty years we stayed in touch by phone and, the last few years, by email. Don’t think she can’t deliver that well-deserved smack by email because, trust me, she can. And we send each other Zen Hugs, a concept stolen from a Brain Ship book we both love.

She knows my secrets. And I know hers, which I will never share here. She says she doesn’t care if I am {called} strange {by other people}; that my “strangeness” suits her more than their “normalness”. She is the only person other than my husband and daughter to whom I say, ‘I love you.”

She saw me through the slow death of my first marriage, the pain of divorce, the struggle to extricate myself completely from my clinging ex-husband, and the joy of discovering the person I really am when I am by myself. She shared with me the roller coaster ride called parenting. She introduced me to homeopathy and I introduced her to energy work. And when I met LionHeart, she agreed with me when I said “You gotta love a man who can use the word ‘commiserate’ correctly in a sentence”, and she read the invocation at our wedding.

When I whine about never being able to retire she reminds me that I will always have a place in her home and that we can become old cat ladies together. When I whine about vacations, we plan a fantasy trip to a far off spa for a week. When I whine about my daughter, Teddi reminds me, with that smack upside the head, that I’m not the only one who raised her and that I’m not responsible for the mistakes she makes, nor am I necessarily responsible for rescuing her. And when I whine about sex she suggests a little on-line shopping – and plenty of batteries.

Sometimes she tells me to suck it up. Sometimes she tells me to let it go. Sometimes she sends me eCards that make me laugh until I snort. Sometimes she sends me packages in the mail – the last one had another little sign that said, “When all else fails, hug the cat.”

So, thanks, Teddi Bear. I hugged my cat. And I Zen Hug the stuffing out of you.

A misty, moisty morning

I borrowed that line from Tolkien. It describes this morning perfectly. The only variation from other mornings lately is that it is only misting rain instead of pouring rain. And since I am solar powered, my charge is getting quite low. And when I’m already low, things hit me much harder.

For example, last night LionHeart told me a story about his day. It ended with him saying to the other person, “You have to have hope.”

That hit me hard. Because it made me think about the part where I have no hope.

Or maybe it would be more accurate to say I have only small hopes.

For example, I have no hope that I can ever retire. Instead, I hope that I can keep my fibromyalgia under control so that I can go to work every morning for as long as, well, forever.

I have no hope of having anything resembling a real vacation, especially now that I have no PTO. Even when I had PTO I always had to save it for sick-daughter-days and service-people-coming-to-the-house days and my-fibro-prevents-me from-working-today days. So I continue to hope for early Fridays and sunny Saturdays where I can do the occasional activity to relieve stress and feed my soul.

I have no hope that I will actually get to have intercourse again in my lifetime. So I hope that I can survive with toys and the occasional helping hand from LionHeart.

(He has the heart of a lion, but a high level of constant unremitting pain takes its toll in many ways. He has, however, promised me a “free pass” if I ever get the chance to, um, nail my favorite actor. Which is a safe bet since there is no hope that I would ever get to do that.)

I have no hope that I will ever have a relaxed, loving relationship with my daughter. So I just hope to make it through each conversation without disappointing her expectations of me too badly.

It seems to take all my energy, thought, and ingenuity just to get through each day reasonably sane, without running up and down the aisles screaming. All the effort that people put into RPGs and other strategy games, I put into surviving my days. And getting through my nights. And getting up the next day to do it all again.

So I hope that my contract-to-hire employer hires me. And I hope that someday my daughter might let me know that I am not a complete failure as a mother. And I hope we get a week of sunny days soon.

So everyone join my pity party and sing the HeeHaw song with me (best sung whilst sittin’ on a porch where yer houn’ dog can howl along):

Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all
Gloom, despair, and agony on me


Saturday, May 8, 2010

The single overwhelming value...

... that dominates everything in my life is...

I create beauty.

That beauty may be in many different forms
• A comfortable room glowing with warm woods and colors
• A perfectly arranged vignette on a side table
• A painting (pastels are my medium of choice)
• A computer program that executes accurately and efficiently and whose code makes beautiful patterns on the page (e.g. cascading indentations that make the code more readable and easy to understand)
• A perfectly organized and arranged desk, bookshelf, closet, fill-in-the-blank
• A perfectly balanced checkbook
• A newsletter that is fun, informative, and easy to read
• A perfect outfit complete with accessories
• The perfect touch of makeup
• The colors, fonts, and layouts of this blog

How did I realize that this value is what drives almost everything I do?

A long time ago at a company far far away I was going through a workbook on organizational change that included a section on values. There were pages of neat little squares printed with values and their definitions from numerous categories like family, money, work, and so forth, and they could be cut apart. The exercise was to take these squares (there were around fifty) and arrange them according to certain priorities. I was truly struggling with this process. Every way I looked at it different values seemed to float to the top. Then my manager walked by and said that he had done something similar during an off-site seminar, except they had to come up with only one value as their tip-top most important one of all time.

As soon as he said that, I knew what mine was. There was one card labeled “Aesthetic”, having to do with beauty, with the appreciation and creation of beauty. And I realized that I have a need to instill beauty in everything I do. It is something that I can’t NOT do.

I was able to look back at the items listed above, along with many others, and see how this need to create beauty had expressed itself over and over again.

Now I’m not sure that “the need to create beauty” could technically be considered a “value”, but for me it is certainly the driving force in my life. And discovering that gave me peace in some unexpected ways.

For example, at the time I was completing this workbook I was totally and completely bored at work, questioning my career decisions, and going through books like What Color is my Parachute in an effort to find something else I “should” be doing. When I had the revelation about ‘creating beauty’ I could suddenly see that which particular profession I pursued was a second place consideration. I didn’t have to be an interior designer or an artist or a dancer. I can find ways to ‘create beauty’ no matter where I work or what I do – and I always have. I just didn’t realize it.

And it also gave me the freedom to design and paint and dance without feeling that I had to be good enough at it to make it my profession and earn enough money at it to support my family.

And it gave me more satisfaction because I could – finally – consciously – choose to create beauty anywhere and everywhere. Maybe in something as small as arranging the items on a restaurant table in a pleasing way. They would be rearranged, of course, as soon as the table was cleared, but in the meantime it made my dinner a little more pleasant. Or maybe in something as large as finding something to do in a club for something in which I had no interest.

Okay, three ‘somethings’ in that sentence makes it non-understandable. What I mean is that Bar’s dad had a hobby that I didn’t share, but he wanted me along because, well, a lot of reasons that I won’t go into here. This is a world-wide hobby, BTW. And they, along with every other club in the nation and the world, produced a newsletter. And theirs was absolutely wretched. I volunteered to take it over. After they recovered from their shock they agreed. And I turned that newsletter into a fun, informative, easy to read (see list above) item that drew accolades from clubs across the country. And it was visually appealing; a thing of beauty.

So that is my number one value. What’s yours?


P.S.  Yes, the former post containing the on-line poll was what got me started thinking about 'values' again.  And "If it's not yours, don't touch it." is still important to me.  But 'creating beauty' trumps everything. 

My dream job

First off, let me say that I GOT A JOB! Actually, it’s a contract, a very LEAN contract, but it pays more than unemployment so YEAAAAA! But, boy, working sure cuts in to my TV viewing time. I’m going to have to let go of all those series that I had collected to watch in my durance vile (Yes, google it, I’ll wait.) And I’m starting to feel like a functioning human being again instead of a zombie whose only light in the world was the glow of the tv screen. And my finally-not-so-sluggish thoughts turn towards posting in my blog again.

So I have a job. But it’s not my dream job.

My dream job would involve something that is near and dear to my heart. It is a hobby of mine. I luvvvvvvvv to paint.

Ah, but what do I paint, you ask?

I paint faces.

No, not the carnival/festival/cartoon face painting where someone, usually dressed as a clown, paints cute pictures on kid’s faces and prays that the mom is right and the kid doesn’t have any allergies that might kill them on the spot.

I put makeup on faces. Well, to be a little more precise, I only put makeup on my face, at least right now. But I would love to put makeup on everyone’s face. Yep, my dream job is at Sephora.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have painted in the more traditional sense. My first love is pastels, those luscious colored sticks of fine powdery substances that you rub across the paper and use your fingers to blend just right.

But after a long day at a very creative job I just don’t have the creative juices and energy left to come home and paint like that any more.

But I do have the time and energy to take 10 minutes in the morning and work that same magic using my face as my canvas. And all those gorgeous luscious colors are available in makeup too.

So I paint my face every morning, trying different palettes and techniques, just for fun. And maybe some do I’ll do it for someone else.

I think I’ll think about what it might take to make that happen. Any suggestions?


One of those polls

I have been accumulating some posts and, before posting, was trying to put them into some kind of logical order, this thought followed that thought, and so forth. But I don't have the time to do that without pulling out my hair so I'm just going to post them. If they seem a little out of order, well, don't say I didn't warn you.

What’s your favorite past vacation? Honeymoon in Hawaii – new place, new husband.

What’s your dream vacation? Somewhere with animals and trees and creeks and no people.

What’s your favorite food? Anything rich and creamy, like fettuccini alfredo or clam chowder.

What’s your favorite book? Seriously? ONE book? You must be joking. How about my favorite series – the Valdimar series by Mercedes Lackey. But then there is the military science fictions series by Elizabeth Moon. And the Harry Dresden series by…well, you get the idea.

What’s your favorite movie? The latest Star Trek. No, wait – Iron Man. No, no, how about the first Transformers movie. I know! I know! “Much Ado about Nothing!”

What’s your favorite weekend past time? Ohio RenFest.

What’s your favorite athletic activity? Dancing.

What’s your favorite type of music? Hmm. I like many genres, but my all-time favorite CD is Paul Simon’s ‘Negotiations and Love Songs’.

What’s one good thing that’s happening in your life? I GOT A JOB.

Who would you have lunch with if you could (dead or alive)? Queen Elizabeth the First. Although she would probably find me boring.

What’s an occupation you would love to try? Interior Redesign.

What’s an occupation you would never try? Anything to do with health care.

What’s your favorite sound? Ducks quacking.

What’s your least favorite sound? The squeal of brakes.

What’s your favorite holiday? None. To me holidays are a time of unrealistic expectations forced upon me by people who punish me when I can’t meet them.

Describe an image that inspires you. Sunshine splashed over anything.
If you could be a wild animal, what would you be? A black panther like Bagheera in Jungle Book.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money ($10 million)?
Travel the world to see the art museums.

If you could live anywhere – and money was not a worry – where would
you live? Italy.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? When you drive, stay in your own lane. That way you won’t have a problem when you round a curve and encounter a vehicle coming in the opposite direction (I learned to drive on two-lane winding country roads). I find this advice is good in many life situations, though. Stay in your own lane, tend to your own business...

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever given? Don’t wear anything that is wider than it is long.

What was your first job? Waiting tables in a local greasy spoon for a dollar an hour.

When you were in first grade – what did you want to be when you grew
up? A ballet dancer.

Who is your hero? Myself. I have overcome so much.

What’s your favorite season of the year? Spring.

If you were stranded on an island with one person – who would it be? Heheheheheheheheh…Christian Kane.

What’s your favorite car?  A pickup truck.

What makes you laugh? My husband’s off-the-cuff humor, most of which is unrepeatable in polite society.

Which core value speaks most to you and why? If it’s not yours, don’t touch it. On a personal scale, I am very territorial, so hands off – and I do the same for everyone else. On a large scale, if everyone adhered to this principle it would solve just about every problem in the world.

What’s the most innovative idea you’ve ever heard? Just about everything I see on QVC, seems like.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Quip on the draw

In my last post I talked about the attention I received from men. This came, not only in physical form, but verbal form. Sometimes as the so-called “double entendre”. Sometimes as thinly veiled sexual comments. And sometimes as blatant propositions.

And during that time I discovered how to ‘confuse and defuse’ men in these situations. I simply reply as though the man has made a perfectly sensible and straightforward comment. Let me give some examples.

From a co-worker: ‘”I saw you on my way to work this morning. What’s a nice girl like you doing standing on the corner like that?” Spoken with that familiar leer.

My response was to – say it with me – treat it like a sensible and straightforward question - and give him a discourse on how economical it was to take the bus to and from work each day.

He made a gaping fish mouth for a few seconds then wandered off without even having made a reply.

See? Neatly done. No voices were raised; he didn’t get embarrassed; and he didn’t have the opportunity to say “I was just joking! Can’t you take a joke?” The (male) co-worker sitting next to me said, “I thought you would take his head off for saying that!” And I said, “No need to. He won’t do anything like that again.” And he didn’t; he treated me with respect during the rest of my tenure.

Or how about the question asked while staring at my chest: “Are those real?” I say, “Of course they are real. I am not one of those women who wear glasses just because they think they are a cute fashion accessory! I wear glasses because I need to!” (Insert evil chuckle here. There’s juuuuust not much they can do with that one.)

You get the idea. Try it sometime. It can be quite a fun thing to do, watching that confused look come over their face as they try to figure out what just happened.


Are you Beautiful or Ugly?

Whoever said “Beauty is only skin deep,” was wrong.

Whoever said “Pretty is as pretty does,” was only a bit closer.

Whoever said “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes to the bone,” was actually on the right track. They just didn’t realize it applies to both beauty and ugliness.

The truth is, beauty starts in the heart, or, more accurately, in the emotions. And so does ugly.

We hear a lot these days about how airbrushed photos in magazines and other images of impossibly beautiful women affect girls’ self images, but most times those poor self images start way before that.

If we are unloved, unwanted, and abused we know there must be a reason, and we come to know that the reason is because we deserve it. That we are unworthy of being loved and cherished. Children who are loved and cherished by the adults around them grow up with feelings of self-worth and self-love. And they rarely think they are ugly. At least, not the Ugly that goes bone deep. The Ugly so Ugly that it deserves a capitol letter.

By time I hit adolescence I thought that the only reason men were interested in me was because I was Ugly. That they believed that, since I was Ugly, I would be so grateful for their attention that I would have sex with them. Or at least let them feel me up.

And who were “they”? “They” were the construction workers who frequented the local diner where I waited tables from the time I was fifteen. The manager of the grocery store who offered to “lift me up” so I could reach the item on the top shelf instead of reaching it down for me as I had asked. The clerk who had to cup my hand in his to give me my change. The men in church who couldn’t talk to me without touching my hair or putting their hand on my back – and then sliding it down to my waist.

A lot of girls like us do go for sex because it is the closest thing we can get to love. But my reaction was different. I felt humiliated. And manipulated. And I scorned their attention.

In retrospect I think that was a good thing. It kept me out of trouble, kept me from being used, abused, and tossed aside once they were done. It left me some pride. But I still thought I was Ugly.

I had no clue that they were interested because I was built like a brick shithouse. Even though many of “them” had told me that. Not to mention I had that long, gorgeous blonde hair. That many of “them” commented on. Looking back on photos of myself I can see that I really was a walking wet dream. As many of “them” had called me.

So I got a lot of attention from men and that didn’t stop when I was married at nineteen. To a man six years older than I, who I met in collage. Who I thought only loved me for my mind. Because he told me so. And I believed him. Because I was so Ugly it had to be true.

It took a lot of years for me to understand that I was “physically attractive”. That’s the best I can get. Attractive. But at least it’s not Ugly. And when my now-husband Lionheart sees that it’s me calling on the phone he always answers it, “Hey Beautiful”. Capitol letter. And some days I almost believe it.