Wednesday, August 16, 2017

History on Repeat


I know I'm not the only one who feels like the world sucks right now.  That humanity seems so off course, it's inhumane.  Not only do we abuse each other, we've also desecrated our habitat; the environment.  And things only seem to be getting worse.  But are they?

There have always been natural disasters mixed with unnatural, unspeakable atrocities. There have always been wars, powerful tyrants and disease.  Pick any point in history and you'll see that it's always been a shit show.  Always.  And every generation has always been fearful for the next generation will inherit a world different from the one they had.  Which they will.

But, it's not all bad.

I mean most of it is, but not all of it.  They're always been people who give to complete strangers, who stand up for the voiceless and the sick.  Ones who fight for humanity armed with compassion and empathy.  Who seek cures for diseases and protection for the environment.  It's just so hard to find them.  Not because there are so few, but because they are reticent and don't seek recognition or rewards.   

There are two motivations for people:  fear and love.  Fear motivates us to protect ourselves from threats real or perceived.  Love encourages us to protect others from threats real or perceived.  They coexist and are intricately intertwined.   Not only is some fear healthy, it's necessary for survival.  And indiscriminate love is as ignorant as it is ill fated.  It sets us up to be taken advantage of.

Throughout history, these ideas have been doing battle for power.  Protect ourselves or protect ourselves as a society?  Whenever we make progress as a society, a backlash occurs and we retrogress  to some extent.  This is why history repeats itself.  But, that doesn't discount the growth and advancement of civilization as a whole.   

The thing we should fear the most is feeling disenfranchised.  Because the powerful prey on the disenfranchised. Thus, giving power to whomever sees fit to abuse it.  And some one will.  Some one always does. Just look at the history books.  

RECOMMENDED READING:  On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Magnified


I was reading in my favorite chair in the bedroom when he approached and told me he had a surprise for me and asked me to stand up.  Don't most people get asked to sit down for a surprise?  Was he going to kiss me?  I mean, I know reading Dostoevsky is a huge turn on and all, but in the middle of the day?  With all the kids at home?  That's when he went down to the garage to get some tools. When he came back up, he locked himself in the bathroom where I heard him screwing around.        Then he invited me in.  To see the lighted, magnifying mirror he'd installed.

WTF WAS HE THINKING?

Sure, things had gotten bad over the years.  As my eyesight worsened, I began to need to wear reading glasses to pluck my eye brows.  And while the glasses make it easier for me to see the stray hairs, the frame of the glasses impede my ability to get to them with the tweezers.  I should mention that bathroom lighting is the worst for such a delicate procedure.  Every woman knows that there is only one place where you can see every single outlying brow hair.  And that's in the review mirror of your car.  Which is why I started plucking my brows in my minivan. Which might be why he bought this mirror for me in the first place.  Because it might be embarrassing when the neighbors see your wife walking out to sit in the car parked in the driveway in her pajamas to pluck her eye brows.   

But, have you looked at yourself with a lighted mirror at 5x magnification?  It's horrifying!  You can see every pore, black head, zit, age spot, wrinkle, chin hair and potentially cancerous legion, not to mention my moustache.  Since when do I have a mustache?  Why didn't anyone tell me how hideous I am?  My husband did tell me he originally ordered a mirror with 10x the magnification, but when it arrived broken,  he sent it back and got the more myopic option.  Thank god!  You can probably see the microscopic bugs on your skin with that kind of amplification.  And no one wants to be reminded that we are actually vile, disgusting creatures chock full of bugs and bacteria!  

I really do get that his heart was in the right place.  But really, getting a woman over 40 a magnifying mirror is seriously the worst gift you can give.  It really only magnifies all the things you hate about yourself.  Because that's what mirrors do.  I was better off seeing myself through the filter of my failing vision.  Which looks alot like the soft lighting in that Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds commercial.   

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Unplugged


My relationship with technology can best be described as, "it's complicated".  So when I take an annual camping trip where I know I won't have any cell service, I'm completely elated.  But, also filled with a little dread.  What if something happens to my dad, my oldest kid I left home alone or our dogs in his care, and no one can reach me?  Also, what if someone posts something completely bizarre on my Facebook wall or tags me in a horrible looking photo and it stays up for days before I can delete it?

What'll happen when I'm unplugged?

I'll tell you what happens.  I tune into nature, that's what I do.  Watching the fish jump out of the freshly stocked lake.  Why do fish jump anyhow?  Well, I can't google it, but I bet they're trying to escape because they suspect they're going to get brutally murdered by some guy with a hook.  Then there's all those birds flying in formation like an intricately choreographed flash mob.  How do they all spontaneously know the next move they're going to do like people musicals always do?  All these wonders of nature, drowned out by my kids fighting about whose turn it is in the canoe next.  

Time I would've spent on my phone looking at photos on Instagram, I spent judging other campers.  Like who buys a pastel yellow tent?  It looks like it was meant for a puppet show.  A creepy, stupid puppet show, just to clarify.  Tents are supposed to be classic, neutral shades, like the inside of an Eddie Bauer store.  And what I mean by that is, completely boring.  Also, who brings their own porta potty camping?  The guy across the way from me, that's who.  The only thing worse than using the campground toilet is using one that looks kinda like a shower stall, but with nylon walls that illuminates the silhouette of the shitter who brings a flashlight with him to use it.  I didn't want to know this information, it was thrust upon me.  But, I do want to know who the hell thought that was a good idea and who the hell cleans that shit?  Now, back to the lady in tent the color of a lemon drop who's wearing silk pajamas to bed.  WHO WEARS SILK PAJAMAS?   Does she have a water bed in there too?  Hugh Hefner?  

While over at my campsite, my son brought an MRE from back when my husband was in the army.  Which was over 12 years ago now.  Never mind, that I packed all kinds of fresh food that I painstakingly prepped and cooked on-site, my kid wants a dehydrated, preservative filled meal that was packaged in 1993.  I did not typo that date.  He ate a 24 year old package of chicken and rice, which, I'm sure wasn't even "good" before it expired.  I know it wasn't good when he ate it because he offered me a taste.  And in my defense, I'd already finished the first book I'd brought with me and I'd judged all the surrounding campers, so there wasn't a whole lot left to do.  Except guard the peanut butter from the chipmunks and ground squirrels intent on stealing it from us.  Why aren't ground squirrels allergic to ground nuts like the rest of America is?  I was actually bored enough to google that, if only I had a connection.  But, I probably would have googled how to kill a pesky rodent with the least amount of blood.  Because the blood might attract bears.

The thought of bears did keep me up at night.  Did I put all the food back in the car?  Did I leave the caramel m&m's out on the picnic table?  Wait, did I bring them in my tent to hide them from the kids?  This is how I die.  Attempting to fight off a bear to protect my candy stash.  Sounds about right.  But, that didn't keep me up as long as the incessant owl hooting in the middle of the night.  Which, if you haven't heard an owl hoot in real life, sounds like a person trying to imitate an owl hooting.  And that person won't shut up for like 2 hours.  Finally, when it stopped, that's precisely when porta potty guy started snoring.

The next day, it started raining.  And it didn't stop.  It rained for hours.  Over 20 hours.  You know how the sound of rain makes you feel like you have to pee?  That guys porta potty right next to my camp site started to seem really appealing.  But not as appealing as peeing next to a tree in the rain.  Or in my pants in the tent.  Or getting eaten by a bear.  Although, I hope the bear would see that the lady in the silk pajamas is a much better option than me because she'd go down smoother.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Technohypocrite



I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm technologically illiterate.  The thing is, I'm really pretty disinterested in electronics altogether.  Which is weird for someone who uses them pretty much all day, every day.  Making me a technohypocrite.  In my defense, it's virtually impossible not to be connected in today's over connected world.

I've told myself time and time again that I'm not going to sign-up for anything else that requires a log-in and a password.  Because I can't even remember the ones I have.  But, every time there is some ridiculous reason for me to sign up.  Like it's required by my kids' schools, so I can academically stalk my children.  As if I don't stalk them on social media already.  Adding one more thing to my 'to do' list.

But first, I have to create a log-in that makes sense so I'll remember it.  For instance, ILOVESTALKINGKIDS. But, that may set off some alarm bells for the school administration, like I'm a pedophile or something.  I'd use my real name as the log-in, except the first time I tried to log-in I used it, messed up somehow and now it registers as taken. So now, I have to come up with something really boring, that's probably a lie like Knittingmom.  (I don't knit.)  But, that's already taken. As are most of the other mundane things I've thought of.      

And now I have to make a password that's 10 characters long consisting of 6 letters (at least one of which should be capitalized), 2 numbers and 2 symbols (excluding the < sign, because that might demean the other letters or symbols in front of it, you know...political correctness and all).  Making this a long and infuriating process.

But, it's nothing compared to my battle with the CAPTCHA.  Which is more of a war, that I'm losing.  Maybe I'm not human, because I can't seem to prove to my computer that I'm not a computer.  Seriously, who can read those things?  Even with my reading glasses on, it's like they're written in Klingon or something.  And last time I checked, Klingons aren't human.  Or real.

Don't even get me started on anything that requires a security question. Because it's always some obscure question.  Like:  What elective did you take in the fall of your freshman year of college?   Or:  Who's your favorite Astrophysicist?  And then there's: Where were you when you realized you sold out and your dreams would never come true?  I mean, not only is it depressing as hell to traipse through your past and recount this stuff and divulge it to your computer overlord, but really...who can remember this stuff?  I can barely remember to give my diabetic dog his insulin twice a day!

I would complain about e-mail, but I rarely read them anymore.  Same with group texts.  And for someone who puts so much information on-line with my blog and social media, I'm really skeptical of those discount cards offered by supermarkets. Are they collecting data on me?  Which is totally ridiculously paranoid and hypocritical.  Which is why I use my old phone number for this purpose.  Somewhere, some 70 year old guy with my old land line is getting coupons for tampons and zit cream at the check out.

I guess I have to admit, I love to hate technology.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Minority




I'm the first to admit it; I know nothing about being a minority.  I'm a white, privileged woman living in a white, privileged world.  And I have a lot of white guilt about that.  No matter what I do, I'll never know how it feels to be a minority.  At least I'm a woman, so I know what it's like to be discriminated against, sexually harassed, marginalized and objectified to keep me grounded.  Thank god for that!

If I have one complaint about where I live, it's that my neighborhood isn't ethnically diverse.  It's white.  It's so white, that if you mixed everyone in my community together, cumulatively we wouldn't even constitute off-white.  Even in summer when everyone has a tan, it's still as white as newly fallen snow around these parts.  I don't know exactly why that is, only that it is.

So, last Saturday after I went out to dinner with my husband downtown, we stumbled upon a bar with live music.   And when we went inside, about half of the patrons were African American, as was the band playing that night.  I felt guilty for even noticing.  But, coming from my homogeneous world how could I not notice?

And I started thinking about the one and only time I was in the minority, which was when we lived in Morocco.  One of the reasons we left Colorado Springs for Africa, was to experience what it's like to be immersed in a completely different culture.  Where we'd be the minority.  Which we were for a couple of years.  And people would stop and stare.  Point and whisper.

But, no matter what we did, or where we traveled, we were still white and privileged with the entitlement of having American passports.  Quite simply, even as foreigners, we wielded a huge advantage of power, without even trying.  I came to the realization that there's no way for us to truly experience what it's like to be in the minority.  Or the challenges that come with it.

All any of us can do it encourage, celebrate and protect diversity.   

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Porta Potty Hell


There are two things that are extremely important any time you travel anywhere in the world:  1.  Consuming enough roughage to poop.  2.  Having a place to poop.  Because, the older you are, the more you realize that life is really all about shit.  Repugnant, putrid, vile shit.  Only a small fraction of which is actually excrement.  But whether it's literal or figurative shit, it's all a waste.  Welcome to the shitshow that's adulthood!  Here are some porta potties provided for your convenience.

I could smell the stench, carried upwind on a balmy mountain summer breeze, before I even saw the repugnant toilets at the campsite.  I always seem to forget about this vital component of camping.  And with four nights in a tent, avoiding the camp toilet is completely unavoidable.  Sooner or later you're going to need to use it.  But, sooner if you're a coffee drinker.  And what adult doesn't drink coffee?  A masochistic psychopath, obviously.  The same kind who camp regularly.

When you just can't hold it anymore, that's when you'll have to do the walk of shame to the camp toilet.  Don't forget a flashlight, because other than daylight, there is no other light source in there.  But, since I can never remember to pack a flashlight, I bring my phone.  (Which is how I captured this great photo of one of the camp toilets three years ago.)  Perhaps most importantly, don't forget the wet wipes!  Because chances are, there won't be any toilet paper.  But, there will be flies.  So many flies.  Which, after the noxious fumes is the second reason to hold your breath before going in and squatting over the potty. BUT, DON'T FORGET TO TAKE THE PHONE OUT OF YOUR BACK POCKET FIRST!

The bad news is, no one can hold their breath, squat over the potty, do their business (especially #2), clutching their phone and a package of wet wipes without peeing on themselves or taking a breath.  It's impossible, trust me!  And the only thing worse than using the porta potty in the first place is being passed out in the porta potty.  I don't actually know that from experience, it's just common sense. In addition, don't ever look directly into the crapper.  I think that's pretty basic.  But there are two valid reasons why one might do this unconscionable act.  1.  Is this going to overflow?  2.  Am I done?  (Sometimes it's just a habitual thing if you're doing #2 to look in the bowl to ascertain this.)

While you're doing Lamaze breathing to hold the squat hovering over the seat, clenching your phone, the dim light illuminating the sign that says not to put diapers, feminine products or garbage into the toilet because they're extremely difficult to remove.  Well, duh...that sounds really reasonable.  Until you consider there's no toilet paper.  And then you look at the wet wipes you brought with you.    While I'm normally a decent, respectful, environmentally conscious human being, I'm sure as shit going to throw that potentially toilet clogging, environmentally hazardous wet wipe that I wiped myself with in there.  Because I'm no masochistic pack-in, pack-out psychotic homemade from a flannel cloth and essential oils reusable wet wipe user.  Because at this moment, I don't give a shit about the environment! I'd say I'm going to hell for that, but I'm already there in porta potty hell!  And judging from the rife stank, so is everyone else at this campground.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Voices in my Head


I have lots of voices in my head and most all of them are self-deprecating.  But, this post isn't about those voices, it's about how your own voice sounds in your own head.  And realizing you don't sound anything like what you think you do to other people.  In fact, you don't sound anything like you at all.  And you definitely don't sound anything like Aretha Franklin or Frank Sinatra.  Especially when you crank up the music in your car and sing along.  The lady next to you at the stop light can verify this. You don't.  But, you do sound ridiculous.  Especially when you're singing an Eddie Vedder song and you can't decipher the words so you're mumble singing/making up your own lyrics.  I may have firsthand knowledge of this.  

And it seems that most people's voices sound better to them in their own head, than they do in person.  But, then what do people who do sing well sound like in their own head?  This question has plagued me for a really long time.  If I ever nabbed an interview with Adele, I'd love to ask her how disappointed she is when she hears her own voice on the radio.  Like is she just a little disappointed or is she massively depressed?  If her music is any indication, I'm going to say it's the latter.  And what about those people who can't sing, but go on nationally televised singing competition only to embarrass themselves because no one told them they're awful?  Plus it's not the 18th century anymore; no one has to "break it to you" that you're an awful singer.  All you have to do is record a video of yourself to know instantaneously and definitively if you can or can't sing.  And who in the 21st century hasn't done that?

Then there's the more everydayness of your voice.  Do you have an annoying accent?  Are you a loud talker?  I was recently out in public with a loud talker.  We were in a quiet place, having a conversation.  Ok, it was more of a monologue really, because a conversation implies there are two people conversing.  To counteract this, my replies became more hushed (and I'm already soft spoken to begin with), hoping she'd get the hint.  My social cue fell on the deaf ears of my loud talker.  I was at her mercy (as was everyone else in the vicinity).  All while the voices in my head were screaming, "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"  But, a loud talker is better than a close talker though.  And they don't seem to be able to read social cues either.  Like if I step back away from you, it's because you're way too close to me.  "DO NOT STEP CLOSER TO ME!", the voices say.  A good rule of thumb is, if you can see my uvula,  BACK THE HELL UP!  Even worse than both of those, is an adult with a child's voice. Think Jennifer Tilly.  And unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to fix that.

As I've said many times before, I don't have an accent.  I know it's amazing, but it's totally 100% true.  None.  None at all.  What I do have is a gentle alto voice.  Unless I'm yelling at my kids.  In which case, I have a loud shrill voice that carries about half way down the street and I take on whatever accent is most condescending in the context of what I'm yelling about.  I'm not proud of this.  But if you're a parent, you know exactly what I'm talking about because you do it too!  No one makes it out of this parenting gig without sounding like Maleficent losing her wings.  NO ONE, I SAID!

But, when I've got a cold my voice takes on an entirely different tone.  In my head it sounds like I take on a whole husky, sexy Demi Moore kinda vibe.  Which I really kinda like.  I wish I sounded like that all the time.  Except, I know I don't actually sound like that.  Unfortunately, I know I sound like Sylvester Stallone when I'm congested.  Accent, mumble and yes, even the droopy eyes...ALL OF IT!  Which is what I actually sound like right now.  Because apparently, colds don't take a summer vacation.

What do the voices in your head sound like?


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