Saturday, August 30, 2008

How Can You Just Leave Me Standing

I work in fashion retail. It seems like I always have and always will. I’ve drifted away from it from time to time but invariably end up going back. It’s in my blood or something. The only downfall, really, is that (speaking of Fall) we have to dress according to the season we are selling. So, while it is still extremely hot and humid outdoors, I am wearing a corduroy blazer and large silk scarf to work. Fine in the store, but rather inappropriate for the out-of-doors!
As I was leaving tonight, a coworker said, “Take that jacket off, you’re making me hot!” I said, “I know, but I think I forgot to shave my armpits.” (It could happen to anyone.)
I thought I could suffer through the heat while riding the Metro home, but it really was hot and terribly stuffy. So I took off my jacket, wadded it into a ball, and shoved it into my backpack. I thought, “Well, I’ll just keep my arms close to my sides, no one will notice.”
This plan was going rather smoothly until we had to disembark our train, stand in some strange holding queue, then get on a shuttle bus to the next Metro stop. It was hot and muggy outside and standing in line is never one of my favorite things to do, anyway. Especially since not even one of us seemed to know where we were going! We were just blindly following one another as if the heat was making us terribly thirsty and the guy holding that big punch bowl full of kool-aid on the shuttle bus seemed trustworthy enough.......
The line was full of chatty be-moustached gentlemen and thousands upon thousands of irritating gnats, but it did move somewhat quickly, I mean, what’s an extra hour added to a normal 90 minute commute?
I had completely forgotten about the armpit situation until I got on the shuttle bus and realized there were no more seats available! Since my jacket was in my bag and we were so packed into the bus, I couldn’t get at it to save myself, I thought maybe I could just balance and bypass using the overhead hand rails ... I’ve been getting better at controlling my center of balance, thanks to my Wii Fit Board, and I was seriously thinking I could avoid a Gilda Radner/Patti Smith moment. Sadly, I was wrong!

Tonight will be spent with some much needed grooming and more practice with the balance games on Wii. Maybe later some SNL for old time’s sake!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pretty Gals

I was watching, with respectful curiosity, a “drag queen” at a local watering hole. I say “drag queen” because it was really just a man dressed as a normal 40-ish gal in a sports bar. Although she was wearing unattractive shoes (probably hard to find a cute pair in her size, unfortunately), she had nice jeans, a pretty cardigan, albeit a little too tight across the shoulders, and her hair and nails were done impeccably. Her mannerisms were so amazingly feminine, I felt more than a wee bit jealous! I watched her with sadness as she waited and waited for a date that never showed. She was delicate and sweet-looking in spite of her size and I wished I had the wherewithal to sit down next to her and strike a conversation. I didn’t want her to think I was making fun of or pitying her, I just thought she could use some company. She sat there with so much grace until she finally gave up on her date and left alone. As I sat on my barstool - back hunched over, legs flailed unflatteringly, makeup nonexistent, hair a consummate mess - she glanced at me on her way out and I thought to myself, “I wonder if she looks at me and thinks: what a perfect waste of a female body!” ..... ??

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On Digging the Perfect Pit

how many
opinions people have about how you should do things ... after you’ve started doing them. So, let me just tell YOU how to do it so you won’t have questions when it’s your turn.
Start by having a friend come over to merely start digging a large hole in the middle of your front lawn. There is absolutely no need to check for utility or water lines. He shouldn’t even feel obligated to ask you where you would prefer the hole. He should just do it his own way. It really makes it more pleasurable for everyone that way.
That friend should probably stop digging rather early in the evening and simply give directives to your other friends who come by to help.
For the most part, digging a pit in which to roast a hog or two is a one-at-a-time project. One man to dig while several others watch him, drink cheap beer (for some reason this whole production is, frankly, better with cheap beer), and offer suggestions. You should expect at least a handful of neighbors to stop by to experience this step in the process.
Only the first guy who started aimlessly digging is allowed to light the fire, however! It’s only fair since he started the digging, he told everyone else how to perform each and every step in the digging and
fire-building process, from the kindling proportions
to wood and rock placement, and he
was willing to have a bona fide freak out each time
someone made a new decision.
You absolutely must be willing to drink more
cheap beer and watch the fire for several
hours into the night. This step is crucial.
If you follow these steps, you will dig a very
successful pit, get a great workout, make
yourself completely filthy, have a lot
of fun, and be off to the perfect start toward
a realistic luau!!
Try it!

Postparty Depression

I don’t think we have full-on Postparty Depression, but I do think we have the blues! Planning a party is all-consuming. You plan the little details and dream of the perfect event. Then you stress a little as the date gets closer .... will we have enough food? Drink? Will anyone show up? Do people even like us?
Then they do show up! Hundreds of them! It’s amazing, outrageous, and fun! They like us! They really like us!!
Then you wake up with a splitting headache and a hazy memory of what happened ... and it’s over.
Postparty Blues.
A certain amount of insomnia, irritability, tears, overwhelmed feelings, and mood swings are normal during the first days after a party. These "party blues" usually peak around the fourth postparty day and subside in less than 2 weeks, when household changes have settled down. If you have postparty blues after a great celebration, you're not alone—more than half of all party hosts have temporary mild symptoms of depression mixed with feelings of happiness after having a party.
Good to know!
We just need to figure out when it will be good for us, both financially and psychologically, to have another party!

Friday, August 22, 2008

To Sea, With Love

Women dream of a lover much like the sea.
He’s deep and romantic, rough around the edges.
He’s vast and enduring, incessant and steadfast.
He’s persistent and relentless. He’s unfalteringly
strong and full of endless mysteries. He’ll take you
on the ride of your life, then softly lull you back to
sleep. He’s endless, tenacious. His love rolls in
to gently caress your skin, then rolls quickly away
like so many mischievous puppies. The other redhead
he loves most is simply his loyal retriever. He’ll leave
you exhausted and sun-kissed and dreaming of
your return to him....
.... and sometimes a long weekend with him is enough!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Butt of Brownie Day Camp

I fancied myself quite the artist when I was little! I loved to draw and a blank piece of paper was the greatest gift I could ever receive. When my mother got a new pair of pantyhose, I was thrilled because they came wrapped around a pristine white piece of cardboard which was perfect to showcase one of my masterpieces! Those were the days when women (actually wore pantyhose) would rinse their pantyhose out at night and hang them over the shower curtain to dry, so that new pair really was a treat! I’m not kidding when I say I was truly an amazing creator of fine art!
Until I went to Brownie Day Camp, that is.
I had been excited about Brownie Day Camp, too! It was held on the shores of splendid Lake Kampeska and was a whole new world of exploration and wonder! For five days each little group had time to spend separately, and then we would meet as a much larger group later in the day. It was at the larger group when we would sing such amazingly meaningful songs as “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” and something about making new friends and keeping the old (one is silver and the other is gold). Usually I preferred the scarier songs about baby cradles falling out of trees and Taffy the Welshman, but these new Brownie songs were pretty good!
I believe it was actually on the second day, however, when my dreams of artistic fame and fortune met their embarrassing demise. We were to name our smaller groups and make a sign that would presumably be judged at the end of the week. Our group chose the name “The Cattails”. Well, I thought the name was a little odd, being primarily a dog lover, but I was willing to go for it! I was so ever-lovin’ excited when I saw the gigantic blank poster board, I would have drawn rat tails, if need be!
Now, I happen to think that Sylvester is the prettiest cat there ever was, but apparently the other little girls at Brownie Day Camp thought differently. I drew the most beautiful, fluffy, black cat tail with a white tip you have ever seen in all your natural born days, and all those other little simpletons could come up with were plain, strait brown tails! I didn’t get it! I mean, I understand all cats can’t possibly compare to Sylvester, but there’s got to be at least one little girl who was capable of imagining a pretty calico tail, or even Siamese, for crying out loud, if you’re totally married to plain brown! At least shade the tip a little....

I was pulled from the team and someone had the audacity to draw OVER my beautiful Sylvester tail with one of their godforsaken brown ones.
While I was sulking by myself cursing both silver AND gold friends, I saw the lovely wetland plants for which our little group was named.
Ah ha! Good one, Brownies!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

I wonder what it would be like to truly be invisible. We are, of course, to some extent, but if we were truly invisible I must wonder if we would use this “power” for good or evil? And the whole Good or Evil conversation is another one entirely. But, to take Ralph Ellison’s approach to invisibility, I conducted a small experiment while commuting this week. I started watching people. I mean, really eye-balling them. This is a brave experiment for a woman in Washington DC, because eye-contact can be a bit unnerving on public transportation. But it was interesting to me how many people don’t look at anyone! They move swiftly from point A to point B and give no one else a second glance. I took my experiment further and began making mental hash marks of the number of people who outright refuse to make eye contact.
I work in retail. It is my job to be friendly and helpful to strangers. It was literally stunning how many people wouldn’t even return a simple greeting or wouldn’t make eye-contact when they did. You seriously can’t even look someone in the eye when you return a “hello”?! That’s appalling!!
I was sitting in a mall lounge one day, waiting to meet a friend for Happy Hour. I saw a woman I knew casually, sitting across the bar. Our eyes met and I smiled and gave a little wave. She just stared at me. She didn’t look away and she didn’t scowl, she just stared at me. Through me. I was simply smiling and waving in an extremely nonchalant way (I don’t like to draw tons of attention to myself when sitting alone in a bar, as you know).
I gave up.
Later, as I was leaving the bar, the woman followed me through the parking lot yelling, “Rebecca! Rebecca!” I stopped and turned. She was extremely friendly with her hellos and I said, “I smiled and waved at you but you just looked at me.” She said, “Well, I didn’t know who you were.”
So what? So you didn’t know this non-threatening, friendly person? And? You can’t even give a tiny, courteous half-smile to a stranger?
That’s just pathetic!
I don’t think we all need to go around hugging each other all the time, but some simple niceties wouldn’t be such a bad thing, really.
Still, I continue to try to be nice. I try to be aware of my surroundings and the people with whom I come in contact. Not foolishly or unsafely, mind you, but humanly.
I was changing trains on the Metro during rush hour. I was moving along with the crowd when two teen aged African American boys barreled through the crowd in the opposite direction. They literally plowed into an African American woman walking in front of me. I felt sorry for her! They really crashed into her! Just as I was reaching my arm out to her to make sure she was okay, she yelled, “Why don’t you knock the white b*tch down?!?!”
How did that become a race issue? And what did either of us do to deserve being pushed aside on the platform?
Ralph Ellison explored the racial issues and felt his nameless character was invisible because the white man is blind to the black man. I completely understand the rationale behind that commentary, but the whole book, “Invisible Man”, put me on an extremely confusing train of thought. The Race Issue is a tough one. One we’ve been discussing and administering a small healing to for as long as we can remember.
Is it acceptable to be racist or prejudiced (let’s take this beyond black and white and talk about homosexuality, handicaps, women ... ) out of sheer ignorance?
Growing up in the milky white Midwest, it was not a tiger we caught by the toe when deciding who was “It”. And no one told us that was wrong until we were old enough to figure it out on our own (which we thankfully did). But who taught us that in the first place?
And while that didn’t inspire a single adult to run from the screen door of the duplex, tell one joke about a guy with a speech impediment trying to buy birdseed (come back when you can talk better), and watch how quickly your mom flies out the door to wash your mouth out with Lava (don’t need no birdseed, but you want a dead bird?).
Nevertheless, I like to take it beyond that, to all assumptions and prejudices. We all pride ourselves on being “different” and yet hate each other for no other reason than our differences. It’s difficult to make sense of that. And how much of our past do we cling to for sentimental reasons without becoming bitter? How many reminders of our past pain do we need to keep around in our attempt to forget?
Well, of course, we can never forget the past if we expect to make a better future, but to what extent? I am not just talking about the vast collective past of the huge issues, I am even talking about our little personal pasts, as well.

I am just asking rhetorical questions, here. I like books that make me think. I look for that in my relationships and in my entertainment. I like when someone plays Devil’s Advocate, even if it has to be me. It’s a dangerous role to play sometimes, but it’s worth it, I think, in the long run. I know people who cannot think rhetorically or abstractly. It’s all, for lack of a better term, black or white with them. These people frustrate me.
I was in a psychology class in the Air Force where we were discussing Nostradamus. Indifferently, I asked the room, “Well, couldn’t someone just read his predictions and make them happen? I mean, I could read all of that and take steps to ensure I became the next Antichrist.”
As the instructor gave an upside down smile and uttered, “Hmmmmmmm...” the precious angel sitting behind me handed me a ticket for God with a pitiful little look on her face.
Another time, in my passion for intellect and conversation, playing Devil’s Advocate actually cost me a friendship when one of these it’s This or That and Nothing In Between people didn’t like my question: If you are going to do something that would disappoint a loved one, and simply not doing it is not an option, is it better to be honest about doing it or is it better to lie about doing it?
Just a question. I did not, at any point, state MY opinion, I just asked a question. But, that led to the person denouncing all my values and put an end to a longtime friendship.
And while I am wondering about things:
How much of our lives depend on the every day decisions we make? In Invisible Man, I felt the story took us on the journey of a favorably budding young man full of hope and promise. Each decision he made led him to a future farther and farther than where he had planned to arrive and forced him to question not only everyone around him, but also himself. One innocent decision after another changed the entire course of his life until he felt invisibility was the only way to live.
So how many of our decisions change our fate? You could ask the folks who missed their plane on September 11, 2001. They would give you a much different answer than I, who missed my flight on July 25, 2008, would give you. How quickly can we rise to fame or fall from grace based on the simplest decisions we make? I am not talking about the kinds of decisions Robert E. Lee or Sophie had to make, I am talking about when you choose to get gas at the beginning of the trip vs getting it along the way. The little things.
Are any of us really THAT different? Don’t we all just move along making little choices and hoping we end up where we wanted to? Or, sadly, are we shocked at our final destiny? While we certainly believe one man can make a difference, are the rest of us really invisible?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

On Your Marks ....

Absolutely nothing beats watching the Olympics live. Nothing is more infectious and exhilarating! I was lucky enough to enjoy the festivities of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, courtesy of Lynn Rosenbaum’s amazing selling skills and Motorola, and I only wish I could share some of my photos now.
Last night we watched the opening ceremonies on regular tv. Our dish “went out” and we have been reduced to a mere channel or two and are forced to change them ... gasp ... manually! The volume, too! No pause, no rewind.... It’s really horrific!
But I wanted to watch the opening events simply to check out the ... sorry ... goofy outfits the athletes were wearing and was not, to say the least, disappointed! So, I was watching the ceremony with my laptop, my sleeping husband, three sleeping dogs, a nearly sleeping president (couldn’t tell if Dubya was ready for bed or merely wondering where the heck the hot dog vendor was), and a few raspberry beers. I was thinking I could not possibly watch anything more boring when Yao Ming walked in with the adorable nine year old hurricane survivor and HERO, Lin Hao. I was incredibly moved by that little angel’s story and watching him with Yao Ming was nothing short of heartwarming!
The actual lighting of the torch was such an amazing technological and artistic feat, I was seriously riveted!! And the fireworks shooting from within and around the amazing bird’s nest structure were absolutely breathtaking!
I haven’t watched the Olympics on television since I was a little kid doing extremely bad gymnastics in my swimming suit, but thanks to last night’s spectacular hoopla, I think I might get into it!