Monday, May 27, 2013

How Benedict Cumberbatch and J.J. Abrams Just Saved My Marriage

Are you a hard-core Sherlock fan?
Do you swoon a little when you see those cheekbones?
What about his voice?
Does it get any more sensual than that voice?
Did you see the new Star Trek?

(Can you believe the words Star Trek came out of my mouth, or in this case, fingers?)
Why am I asking so many questions? Am I still in high school??

Never in a million years did I think that I'd become a Star Trek/Wars/Gate fan. Then I got married and Mountain Man is a fan of all things fantastical and sci-fi-ific, so it was easier for me to hop on the band wagon of his movie tastes rather than him mine. After all, isn't the love story between Uhura and Spock just as epic as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy?

Yeah, I'm not buying it either.

Then today happened. After 16 years of sci-fi/fantasy indoctrination our two worlds finally collided.
Thank the heavens.
I thought I was going to die.

So Benedict, J.J. Abrams, my thanks to you. You just saved my marriage.
Oh, and Chris Pine, you're just downright delicious.

Did you see it? Do you love him too?

via Google

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Strange Case of the Missing Umbrellas

We've lived in Portlandia just a little over three months. It feels like an eternity. I drive--a lot. Back and forth and back and forth, and even though I spend a great portion of my mornings and afternoons in the car, I really kind of enjoy it. I like to people watch--even if it's while traveling at a whopping 20 mph as I make my way down the road in all this traffic.

One thing baffles me completely about this place: No one in Portland uses an umbrella.
It's not uncommon to see several people walking about in the rain with no coat, hood, or parasol to shield themselves against the elements. I think this has something to do with the fact that most Portlanders are just such bad-asses. It's like they want to prove to the world how cool they are. Except they're so cool they don't need to prove it to the human race, they're proving it to Mother Nature, and we ALL know that the only person who's ever proved anything to her was Chuck Norris. But these Portlanders just keep trying. They can't help it. The cool factor of a native Portlander is so high that they actually LEAP from the womb with a pair of Doc Martens already on their feet--and incidentally, with no umbrella, even though amneotic fluid has been proven, without a doubt, to be very wet.

On the other hand, I live in the suburbs. My neighborhood is rife with Middle aged somethings sporting the EXACT same rain coat from R.E.I. We hold discreet black micro umbrellas that can be stashed away quickly should that coven of hipsters that live on Hawthorne suddenly find itself wandering a little too south and we would be mocked for our middle aged-ness. Nevermind the fact that we middle agers think that hipsters look like 3rd graders dressed up in their parents clothes, we still don't want them to make fun of our obvious lack of cool. By the way hipsters, what's with the sudden interest in sporting eye wear reminiscent of Sally Jesse Raphael anyway?

But now I'm just showing you my age. (Which,in case you didn't get it, is middle, thank you very much.)

I digress, back to the umbrella--or lack thereof--as it may be. One of the first things I was told by a friend of mine when we first moved here was that, "No one in Portland carries an umbrella."

I've pondered the umbrella dilemma for a few months now and I've come up with a few possible reasons why they've gone missing.

Portlanders might:

A) feel that they need to prove they are as hip as they think they are. To be honest, they really are cool. Every person I've met so far has been like one of the mysterious chi-chi kids from high school--the kind that you just can't approach, let alone hang out with. To be fair, I don't really know that many people, so I'm really just talking about the handyman at our apartment--oh, and that lady who says "hi" to me every day after school. She's so cool I'm surprised each time I see her that she's not dancing in a pair of M.C Hammer pants humming "Can't Touch This."

(Now you're humming "Can't Touch This." )
You're welcome.

Or perhaps Portlanders are...

B) the unwilling victims of a secret international umbrella shortage

C) really lazy

D) a race of people akin to Kevin Costner's character in Water World. I can't see any one's webbed toes because of all the Doc Marten covered feet here, but I've been looking for gills and haven't spotted any yet.

I know I'm mocked every time I break out my GINORMOUS rainbow umbrella that can comfortably accommodate our Amazonian family of four. But I don't care.

Did you hear me, Portland???!!


I'm too middle age-ed to shun my trusty umbrella. I'm also too middle age-ed to write the word "aged" I had to write it with the extra syllable just to PROVE to you just how middle age-ed and stodgy I am.

There were good men and women who lost their lives in the pursuit of finding solutions to protect us from the elements. (Ever heard of the great umbrella collapse of 1622? I thought not. There wasn't a single survivor to tell that tale of woe.) I will not let their sacrifice be in vain. I will use my umbrella, protect my frizzy hair, mom uniform and Doc Martens (c'mon, I'm not that old) from the rain every chance I get. Which apparently, is a lot, because today, I actually thought I might drown.

Simply put: People of Portland, you are cra-zay. Pull out your umbrellas, or if you can't find yours, you are welcome to come under mine...unless you're a hipster, then, move along, friend.
Nothing to be mocked here...move along.

What cultural phenomena do you experience where you live?


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sunshine & Inspiration!

Brandy, over at Brandy's Bustlings, has so very kindly awarded me with the Very Aspiring Blogger Award! Thank you Brandy!!

The rules of the Very Inspiring Blogger Award as as follows:
1. Display the award logo. 2. Link it back to the person that gave it to you. 3. State seven things about yourself. 4. Nominate 15 bloggers and include their links in your blog

And if that wasn't awesome, Murees, over at Daily Drama of an Aspiring Writer awarded me with the lively Sunshine Award! Thank you Murees!!

The Sunshine Award's rules are as follows:

You have to feature a picture of this award in a post or on your blog.
You have to answer 10 random questions about yourself.
You have to nominate 10 other bloggers to receive this award and then you have to link to their blogs and let them know about receiving it.
And we all know that I am fundamentally LAZY. So I'm going to combine these awards and make up my own rules. Life is more fun that way!
Here are some random fun facts about me:

* I am a mostly full time vegetarian, unless I don't feel like it, then I eat meat.
* I have an unnatural addiction to Diet Coke. Every day I think, "Today I will quit." Then I never do.
* We just moved. It was hard.
* I like people, but I never answer the front door. Too many variables.
* If I could have any pet, it would be a parrot named Pooter. It's just so I can be like Mrs. Jenning's from Ang Lee's Sense & Sensibility, where she comes back to London and upon entering the house says, "Ah Pooter, still alive I see."
* I like to read, play the guitar, sing, play the piano and carry on commentary as I'm watching strangers in the park/airport/on street corners. I once carried on a half hour docu-drama while leaning out the window of a hotel room off Broadway in NYC. I was two stories up and didn't even fall out the window. Score one for the clumsy girl!
* I give people nicknames. They usually stick.

And I'm going to pass BOTH of these awards on to the following bloggers:

Susanna at Behind My Eyes
Julia at A Day in the Life
The Islander at And the Livin' is Easy
Lissa at The Rain Girl
Ghadeer at Spill Beans

These wonderful bloggers make me think, and bring great joy with their authenticity!
I hope you enjoy reading them too!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

I've Had Enough of Not Being Enough

Today I went to the most beautiful place, the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, The Grotto. The Grotto is filled with love, light and peace. In the upper garden, there is a labyrinth pattered after the one in Chartres Cathredral. I walked the one in Chartres when I was 19 years old. Today, almost twenty years to the day, I walked its twin at the Grotto.

Here's a picture of Chartres' labyrinth:

via google

A labyrinth is a path that one walks to mediate and find focus. Labyrinths are not mazes, but a path that one walks to clear the mind and enlighten the soul. I walked my walk on the labyrinth with a specific intention: Self acceptance.

I'm 39 years old. Not a day has passed since I was eight years old that I haven't looked in the mirror and thought something derogatory about my body. Too tall, too gangly, too clumsy, too freckled, weird speaking voice, too fat, too knock kneed--my list of perceived physical shortcomings could fill the O.E.D.  I inherited this attitude from my parents, who inherited it from their parents. The self hatred goes so deep that it colors every joyful experience of my life. I often catch myself thinking during life's sweetest experiences, "If only I were thinner I'd be even happier." Each time I think this, a little joy is chipped away from the moment because I am reminded that I'm not enough.

I have never felt comfortable in my own skin. I can tell you with exactness what I weighed on each important day in my life. My physical self loathing has colored each day of my life as long as I can remember. I carry it with me like a great stone around my neck. It drowns out the full breadth and depth of joy that I could experience and well, I'm sick of it.

I've talked to a lot of women--and at some point each has mentioned this feeling of not being enough. We are taught our physical lack at our mother's knee, in locker rooms, at school dances, on the playing field, and in dressing rooms, under fluorescent lights which show our every flaw in life sized high definition. We lament our lack of not being enough as teenagers with phrases like "I'm sooooo fat!!" at the same time swinging our gorgeous hair and silently begging for compliments and validation from other girls who feel the emptiness of not being enough as painfully as we do.

Some of us eat to fill up the hole of not being enough. Some of us have doctors remove excess fat with a sterile vacuum hose, not unlike the one you use to clean your car. Some of us develop eating disorders, get plastic surgery, take drugs, drink excessively, cut ourselves, and even inject toxic chemicals into our lines and wrinkles in a vain attempt to fill the bottomless pit of not being enough.

I'm standing on the crest of the big 4-0. Forty. Middle aged. Over the my almost four decades in this body I've been ogled, groped, leered at, felt up, patted down, and generally objectified in a variety of situations. Every gaze I've encountered since I was 13 (when those pesky boobs appeared like aliens on my chest) has left me completely confused. Is my cup size the measure of my worth? My dress size? What must I look like to be enough?

I've had several different bodies in my life, and I'm only half way through this journey. There was the tiny baby body, the awkward child body, the teenage explosion, the early twenties goddess (which of course, I didn't appreciate at the time.) Now, scarred, stretch-marked and flabby, I still carry the 35 extra pounds from my last baby--and he's nine.
I see his sweet face and am reminded that I still can't fit into those pre-baby jeans.  People use words like "robust", "healthy", "big boned", and the phrase "at least you have a pretty face", to describe me. People say things like:

"Have you lost weight?"
"Why don't you join a gym?"
"What size are your jeans?"
"Your boobs are huge!"

And with every question or comment, I am reminded, with crystal clarity, that I am not enough.

Not enough.
Not enough.

In our society, body image is the litmus test we use for being enough. Both women and men feel the sharp sting of the desire to be enough. But we've all been duped over and over (and again and again) into thinking that our worth, our sense of being "enough" is directly dependent on what we look like.

I've never met a woman who hasn't been able to paste a smile on her face and pretend that she is enough. I do it every damn day. We dye our hair, constrict our bodies in spandex and elastic that raise our boobs, and slim our waists. We don the torture of high heeled shoes and fake fingernails then slather our bodies in creams (that cost more than my first car) just to prove that we are enough.

But I know.
I can feel the gap within people, the ache of wanting to be pretty, attractive, thin, and young. There is a yawning chasm that resides in each of us and attempts to swallow us whole. We are reminded of our "ideal" image every time we turn on the television, open a magazine or walk out the door. Vast and unending, dark and deep, the chasm swallows us a little more each day with the negative thoughts we feed it. Every time I think, "I'm so fat" the gap opens a little wider and I sink a little deeper. I fear one day I may disappear altogether into the abyss; the abyss of not being "enough".

And here is the real, personal tragedy of my thinking: My body rocks. For loathing it so completely, I take really good care of it. I exercise it every day. I walk, run, swim, and climb. I eat right. My health is amazing. I haven't needed to see a doctor--except to have babies--in my entire adult life. I rarely catch the common cold. I've got fabulous skin and no wrinkles (fat chicks don't get 'em). I've got thick wonderful hair. I have fabulous hands that can play the piano, cook a meal, communicate to a jerky driver, and comfort a soul.

And beyond my physical characteristics: I've got a kind heart. I enjoy people. I can engage in conversation on a variety of subjects. I have great empathy. I would give you the shirt off my back if you needed it--but on second thought, then someone would inevtiably make a remark about my chest, so, I take that  back--no shirt for you.

But sexy personalities don't sell. You can't bottle "witty", "funny", or "clever". Instead, we focus on the exterior shell, the changing husk. We ask ourselves and others, "Are you losing weight? What have you been doing? You look fabulous!" We make snide comments about people who are shaped differently than us in order to prove to ourselves that we are enough. We think, "At least I don't look like that." To keep the chasm at bay, we compare our bodies to others over and over and we willingly believe the biggest lie ever told: The lie that we are not enough.

So, I am finished.

You see, I've got a daughter. I refuse to have her sit at my knee and learn in the dressing rooms that she is not enough. I refuse to allow her to be swallowed whole into the abyss. I want her (and me, and you too) to find the tools to close the gap. I am taking my tools in hand to climb, inch by inch, into the belief that I am enough. I may have set backs. The odd remark about my ample chest, or my squishy arms may push me back into the darkness, but I will hang on.
am hanging on.

Are you hanging on too?

Today, right now, I am closing the gap. Hanging on is no longer enough for me. I want to sprout wings and fly away into drunk love for this amazing machine that houses my soul.
I am enough.
This lovely body is just right as it is. It changes every day but I am armed with the tools to help me gain ground to close the gap. My tools are good, merciful, kind, and loving thoughts about this body I've been blessed with. It is mine and it's an amazing opportunity to have one that works pretty well. I gain ground by focusing on the amazing things that my body can do.

So today, as I walked the labyrinth, I walked to be blessed with the tools necessary to make the journey.  I walked for self acceptance, but not self acceptance coupled with resignation; not the disappointment of "I really loathe my body, but I'll accept it anyway." I walked my labyrinth today for sublime self acceptance; self acceptance coupled with unconditional true love for this body I've got, cellulite, knobby knees, squeaky voice, kind heart and all.

The sum total of my being is not contained in the exterior shell that is my body. The most important parts of me, and you, are written on the walls of our very souls. This means that I am not my body and neither are you.

And we are enough.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Liebster Squeak!

Are you all rested up after the last month of A to Z blogging madness?
No, me neither.

I got the notice today that two lovely bloggers nominated me for the Liebster award! Rachel over at When a Lion Sleeps, Let it Sleep, and Sherilee over at Sweet Tea & Sunshine have generously shared the Liebster with me! Thank you, ladies!!

The Liebster award is for blogs under 200 followers, and since I am barely squeaking by, I am especially grateful.
The rules of the Liebster is to answer questions from the award giver then pass it along. Here are Rachel's questions for me:

1. What is your favorite band or artist?
I love the Indigo Girls, the Lumineers, the Decemberists, Mumford & Sons and I love a variety of classical music, musicals, jazz and folk.

2. What moral code do you live by?
I like to say, "Enjoy to the end." And enjoying life means that I do no harm to others and try and bring joy gently and lovingly.

3. If I could meet any person, dead or alive, who would it be?
You know, I can think of about FORTY MILLION people! So it's difficult to narrow it down to one. I would have to say it would be lovely to take tea with Queen Victoria and get her to say, "I am not amused."

4. List three things you like about yourself.
I have great feet. No, seriously, they are awesome. In another life I could have been a foot model or at least a Birkenstock salesperson.
I really enjoy people.
I love to learn and by extension, I love to read.

5. If you were on a crime show would  you rather play the killer or the victim? 
Neither. I don't watch crime shows. Mountain Man said I couldn't because I'm such a drama queen and after one episode of CSI, I was convinced that I was going to be murdered with a high heeled shoe. It led to too many sleepless nights so I decided to swear off crime shows all together.

6.What is one piece of advice you want everyone of the younger generation to have?
If there was one thing I could relate to everyone I meet it is that they are worthy, lovely and whole, just as they are. They should own their beautiful selves and rejoice in their unique gifts that they bring to the world. Stop trying to be like everyone else and spend your time thinking thoughts that elevate you, not tear you (or others) down. Life is short, think wisely.

7. What is the stupidest thing you have ever done? 
Once, when I was 14, I was out running around the neighborhood with some friends making mischief by toilet papering some people's houses. We were running by a little strip mall and there were these idiots in a truck who I "just happened" to flip off. They came screeching around and chased us down. As most of you know, I don't run unless a zombie is chasing me. I have a signature move called the "limp noodle" that I employ should a kidnapper ever decide to pick me up and run away. Unless you're Thor, it's almost impossible to move me when in the limp noodle state.

So, since running was out (on moral grounds) and the limp noodle would just make me an easier target for them to run me over, I turned around and started chatting it up with these offended young men. By the time we were done, I'd made two new friends, no longer intent on killing me with their gigantic truck. In hindsight, things could have gone A LOT differently, so it was a pretty stupid move to begin with, but it all worked out in the end.

8. What is your most embarrassing moment? 
Oh, this question! Let me just say, if I told you, I'd have to kill you.

9. Is that your actual most embarrassing moment or are you keeping the real one a secret?
I have no idea what you're referring to. *shifts uncomfortably in chair and looks away.

10. What is your favorite book?
To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

11. Do you have any pets?

And here are Sher's questions for me: 

1. If you could have any exotic animal as a pet, what would it be and what would you name it?
If I had a pet, it would be a parrot and I would name him Pooter. 'Cause that's just cool, oh, and Mrs. Jennings in Sense & Sensibility had a parrot named Pooter too. And while I'm not as fat as Mrs. Jennings, or British, or live in the 18th century, I still think a parrot named Pooter would ROCK.

2. What company would you love to be the CEO of and why?
That's an easy one: my husbands company. Because he's had one day off in the last month. I'd make weekends mandatory! 

3. What is one of your favorite lines from a movie?
Obviously, it's from Ang Lee's Sense & Sensibility, where Mrs, Jennings says, "Ah, Pooter, still alive I see?" Seriously, if I had that parrot THAT is what I would say to her every day. 

4. What is one piece of advice you wish you could share with the whole world?
Same advice that I gave above from Rachel's question. You are worthy, you are lovely, you are whole. Think good thoughts about yourself and others. Your life is the very reflection of the things you think.

5. What is the first thing you think when you see someone walking down the street talking to themselves?
"Cheaper than therapy."

6. Where in your life do you value complexity?
I value complexity in almost every aspect of my life. I like layers of meaning and subtleties. I especially like it when I figure out what makes a person tick. I like complexity in relationships. 

7. What is your favorite sound?
Mountain Man's laughter. 

8. If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
"Watch for sharp turns." 

9. What did you invent that you thought would be a great invention until you found out it was already invented? The mechanical Parrot named Pooter. Seriously, I really want a parrot--or a bulldog named Henri. But a mechanical one, because real bulldogs poop...and so do parrots. Dang.

10. What item has been on your to-do list the longest?
To mail a copy of my will to my brother. I feel like it's tempting fate if I send it. So, here it remains. 

11. What song title best describes your relationship with your neighbors? 
"One Man's Ceiling is Another Man's Floor" The people who live above us walk like elephants. I just don't know why people walk around so much in their house or why they feel the need to walk to heavily. They sound angry. Come to think of it, they might be angry because they don't have a parrot named which case, they are completely justified. 

I would like to pass on this lovely award to the following bloggers: 
Anjali at Akoustik
Joy at It's a Joy!
Rob-Bear at  Bears Noting

These are fabulous bloggers! I hope you check them out. And for your questions, my they are: 

1.Why do you blog?
2. What is your advice to someone overcoming adversity?
3. If a movie was made of your life, who would play you?
4. If you could have high tea with anyone living or dead, what kind of tea would you drink? (Caught you off guard with that one, didn't I?? ;)
5. In one word, describe your feelings at this instant.
6. If you and I found ourselves in jail, what would we be "in" for?
7. What is your favorite kind of donut?
8. Mine is an apple fritter. Will you bring me one?
9. If you could be any kind of athletic ball, what kind would you be? Why?
10. What's your favorite form of exercise?
11. I (apparently) want a parrot named Pooter as a pet, what kind of pet do you have/want?

Here's the rules: Pass this award along to five other bloggers with under 200 followers. Ask them eleven personal/random questions. Enjoy. 

Thank you Sherilee and Rachel!!! Happy Liebster!!!