Monday, December 28, 2009

What is the cost of unlimited phone service?

Sometime ago I came to a crisis point where my phone plan was getting in the way of what I needed to do in life. When I spoke to the phone company because I'd been with them for quite a number of years they offered me unlimited service for ten dollars a month more than I was paying them a month. Historically I almost never went over my allocated peak minutes. Then again I watched my usage like an owl tracking prey at night. The crisis involved helping my sister deal with some things back home in Colorado and quickly set a torch of my allocation of minutes for the month.

It was worth it I thought to pay the extra ten dollar a month not to have to panic if my usage went over again, so I quickly accepted my carriers offer.

Today while suffering the limitations of chatting with a friend online, she wondered if we knew each other well enough to exchange phone numbers. I met her through reading her blog, added her as a friend on Facebook and until today we were more or less electronic friends. But I felt like I knew her well enough, and have developed a respect for her that I sent my number to her straight away as my reply. Seconds later the phone rang. As we hung up after a time of chatting it dawned on me, this was the best part of unlimited phone service. Enjoyed talking with my friend free from the worries of peak minutes or off peak, what plan I was on, what network and so forth. What is the cost of unlimited phone service? It's priceless!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Luxury, Tithing and Carbon Footprint.

I have a new definition of "luxury" these days. Luxury is making bread often enough to intentionally give ten percent of it to the local wildlife. On purpose. Luxury is taking part of a loaf of bread I only baked four days ago and throwing it to the birds, squirrels, ducks and deer.

I can go back to sharing some of my bounty, tithing if you will. Instead of handing it to some church that is only likely to use my money to tell people what they CANNOT do, I can return something healthy to the world to help nurture and grow the world from whence my bounty came. Tithing is helping the world and all of God's creatures, not just the upright, bipedal ones.

Minimizing my carbon footprint means the gift of luxury, the cycle of life. Giving something back instead of just taking all the time.

I've wanted a bread machine for years, but I'd not really considered what it could mean in the bigger picture. I wanted it because it would mean less work for me to have it, just push a button and fresh bread on demand without all the time involved, plus I don't have to heat up a whole oven for a single loaf of bread. So I'm saving money all the way around.

For years I've been bitching about the fact that a fresh loaf of bread cost a nickel in 1905 and now a century later is three dollars for something that is already several days old by the time I take out a slice out of the plastic bag and it's traveled hundreds of miles to get to me. In 1905 the ingredients were planted, harvested, ground and made into bread by hand. From there the fresh loaves were usually placed into the window ready for sale, by the same hands that made them, and when sold, were placed into a bag by those same hands. By the time I cut into the loaf at home, the bread was still fresh. Making my own at home made it even fresher. A bit more expensive because of my hard work, but it was much a labor of love.

Over many years between then and now I kept on making my own bread whenever I could because having grown up in a house where fresh bread was a regular commodity and the smell of it baking brings back good memories it was well worth the work. Machinery however replaced all the hard working hands between planting and my table, and I can go into the supermarket and get a loaf of bread that has never been touched by human hands. Machines were supposed to cut costs and improve our life by making things easier and cheaper.

Easier and cheaper? Three dollars? What? Plus the fresh made bread a century ago was made with very few ingredients and NO man made chemicals, fillers, preservatives or whatever else goes into it these days. It's made with ingredients that were shipped hundreds or more miles to be made into bread. It's made by machines, packaged, shipped, even sliced all by machines.

So I make my own when I can, but more and more the time and effort is outside my energy and time level. It's the remembering to punch the dough down, let it rise, do it again and so forth. I know that sounds like a cop out, but given what I'm recovering from, I'm just not ready for the demands making a loaf of bread once a week or so is more than I'm ready for right now.

A bread machine, I put everything in, press some buttons and walk away. When it beeps, the bread is done. And it doesn't have much, or if I buy fully organic ingredients, any artificial ingredients. Plus I can, while it's cooling, slice off a bit, give it a touch of butter and savor the taste right then. No fuss, muss or bother, and it's healthy for me.

So it's kind of a win/win/win situation all the way around. Cheaper, healthier, easier, fresher bread? How can I go wrong. So it dawned on me that giving something back just kinda completes the cycle of life here by nurturing nature some. And you know, that feels good to me. Being part Amerind and having gotten a flavor for the way my ancestors lived the land, giving something back really appeals to me. Plus there's a certain irony, even perhaps justice in feeding bread to the world around me that is fresher than a loaf I could buy in the store.

Because I know that from the time it comes out of the ovens, cools, gets put in bags, loaded onto trays, stacked on carts, loaded into trucks, shipped to the distributer, unloaded and then loaded onto other trucks, shipped to stores, rolled into the store, and finally makes it onto shelves it's already at least four days old. So when I buy it and take it home it's already older than what I'm giving back to the world, so I kinda like that.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Who'd have thunk it?

It's 11:57 as I write this. In the morning. Which is why it say 11:57 and not 23:57 which is usually when I stop in. I have another post in the works, but I just thought I'd remark briefly at the wonder of being awake and underway in the day at such an hour. Then again I was in bed by 03:03 for a change instead of 07:30. Yes, I keep time around here in 24 hour notation, more in self defense than anything. Lets me know where in the day I am. Which considering the different places and times I make it to bed, and then wake up, this makes my life easier.

This morning for example I woke in Atlantis. As in the fictional city of Atlantis from the Stargate franchise. Admittedly she's not as far away as she once was, now that she's out in the San Fransisco bay, but still it's nice to wake up someplace I know well and enjoy spending time at. I just lay there for a while, doing some Reiki on myself, enjoying the smell of the ocean and the gentle rolling motion as the entire city rides the ocean currents. Walking around the city on a day to day basis getting things down you don't really have an opportunity to appreciate that this entire city is floating. But laying there in bed meditating, it's impossible to miss. I often notice it sitting in the commissary of the library, just enjoying a cup of tea and savoring the peace. So waking up there this morning was a welcome change of pace.

Fell back to sleep briefly, I mean how could I not, lulled as I was. And woke up back here in Ohio. Just on the early side for me. So I thought I'd do something different and get my day started. For my next trick, I think I'm going to have some lunch, around lunch time for a change!

Yes, I know, and overall boring entry with nothing major going on, but you know, sometimes these are good too. I mean if my life was constant deep thoughts and crisis I'd probably lose my mind. Again. After all, that's what did it the last time. So I hope this finds you all well and hopefully having a peace filled day yourselves.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Droid does? Oh yeah, Droid DOES!

So the media has been having a ball with Droid and what it does. Verizon has been marketing the hell out of it's new Droid phone. All the new commercials about what Droid does, the smart phone gone just over the board into magic. Ask your phone to find something and it tells you who to get there? Yeah, that's GPS. They've been around for a while. However there's a piece of high tech hardware you have to program, load with maps and data, learn to use, and then pay attention to the little screen when it beeps and tells you with text on the tiny screen to turn to make it all work. I know, I had one, and honestly it was a bunch of work to, well, make it work. In the end, it really wasn't worth all the time and effort I had to pour into it to make it work. In that regard, it wasn't a hammer.

A hammer? How the heck did we get from advanced technology to hammers?

Well I'm a simple country girl. Really, grew up in farm country, stopped eating Chicken for a goodly while when I was a child because I made the connection to my little friends vanishing and food on the table. A hammer is a simple device that does something really well. It drives nails, and in the case of a clawfoot, pulls them out. That's what it does. Simple, straight forward and
effective. Bigger nails? Get a bigger hammer. It is a very simple idea, a tool that works and doesn't need an advanced science degree. A Hammer does.

When I was growing up in the country, we had a box on the wall, that you checked first to make sure no one else in the neighborhood was using, and then you made your call. That's all it did.

Back in the early eighties, I got my first portable phone that was wireless. Big brick of a thing that fit in either a big shoulder bag, or could be mounted in your car. Pick it up, dial, if you've got coverage, the call goes through and the rates were insane. But it was a phone. The shoulder bag? Well my purse with all it's crap in it is way smaller and lighter than my first cell phone. But it worked great as a phone and that was what mattered.

So now I have this tiny little phone that is something right out of Star Trek Next Generation, and happens to be a "Droid" phone. So today I decided I'd see just how close to reality the commercial was. After all, we all know how advertisers can, shall we say, embelish things? So,
first, for those who've not yet seen it, here's a quick clip from Verizon talking about their Droid phone and how it finds things:

So my question of course was how much of this is real, and how much marketing hype? I mean I've had a GPS in the car for quite some time, but it's slightly older, and more work to use than the one in my head. Yes, I know, GPS in her head? What? Is she cybernetic with some sort of top secret scifiesq wet ware jacked into her brain? No, not so much. I just have this scary amazing sense of direction, and an intuitive grasp of things. Plus as a child, having had too much time on my hands and wanting to stay out of trouble, I studied things. Like Maps. I only wish I was kidding. So I can get to pretty much anywhere, from pretty much anywhere, and you can, as my father used to do when I was a child, blindfold me, drive me out into the middle of know where and see if I could find my way home. Anyway, I digress. I wanted to find the nearest branch of my bank to where I was, and wanted my Droid to tell me how to get there. First I should state that I do not have a Verizon Droid.

I have a T-Mobile MyTouch 3G that frankly is much more appealing to my eyes than the Verizon Droid. Softer lines, nicer curves, and a lovely Merlot color. Much, much better. For those less into lines, curves and colors, it comes in jet black, and artic white as well. Plus there's an entire line of "skins and shells" that one can put on it to have it look anyway you want it too. Me, I'm perfectly happy with the way it looks right out of the box. So, Merlot it is. Anyway back to my point, testing to see how good this really was at finding, and then directing me to a place I wanted to go. Because my phone runs exactly the same operating system and all the same software, I saw no reason my Droid should do exactly what the commercial above showed the Verizon Droid doing.

So I hit search, told it to find my bank and hit navigate. Wow. Exactly like the commercial. Turn by turn voice directions, and it even recovered very nicely when I drove right past one of the turns. This was the big issue I'd had with my Garmin GPS. Aside from the fact that every time I wanted to go somewhere I had to hook the Garmin to my computer, load in all the maps, program in the route, and then put it into the car to use it, it was much more user intensive in the field. With the Garmin I had to be watch the screen constantly to see where I was supposed to turn, and the closest to an audible indication I could get to an upcoming change was a beep, and then direction flashing on the small monochrome (and hard to read) screen. When driving a car, not the safest thing in the world to be doing. So the Garmin never really got used for driving directions and could never be used for spur of the moment, find me the closest branch of MY bank. Nope, Garmin could not do that. It didn't know where my bank branches are, that was something I'd have had to program in first. As a hammer, the Garmin failed. Don't even try to consider it a Droid, because a Droid by definition is supposed to be able to do all that for me. Especially given the commercial right?

Well I'm pleased to say as hammers go, this one is a top of the line, chrome plated, Droid! Hit the search button, told it to find my bank, gave me a list of choices closest to me, let me pick one at random, and then took me right to it with voice directions. Periodically I looked at the screen to see what it was showing, but more important was the voice that said "In 1/4 mile turn left onto Linden Blvd" and then as the turn was coming up, "Turn left onto Linden Blvd now" as I was driving along. The big test came when I decided to see just how smart my Droid was and drove right past the turn I was supposed to take. This was another point where my Garmin would get hopelessly flummoxed. I'd be off track and it would have no idea what to do since it wasn't programmed for that. My Droid on the other hand recalculated the route and calmly said "In 1/4 mile make a u turn at Obrien Ave." like nothing had ever happened. Executed the u turn and the Droid informed me I'd now be turning right onto Linden Blvd like nothing at all had happened.

As hammers go? Very, very, smart hammer. Finally a GPS that will really take me where I want to go, even if I have no idea where that is. Later in the day I told it to find my the nearest post office in Indiana. Again no fuss, muss or bother, told it what I wanted and it told me where to go and how to get there. Twice during the journey I specifically made bad turns to see how or if it would recover. As it happened, flawlessly recovered each time without my having to wait while it collected it's whits. During the drive to the post office I happened to come upon a location that my intuition told me was the location of a geocache. I'd not set out to go geocaching that day, and didn't have the detailed cache information with me. No worries, opened a browser (yes, a web browser on my Droid) bulled up the details and set about grabbing, signing, and replacing the cache near a ski resort in Southern Indiana.

Yes, a Ski resort known as Perfect North Slopes right in southern Indiana. Despite not having had any real snow here this season, the snow machines had been working overtime to lay down a nice usable base of fresh snow. Not only did my Droid serve to get me here, but took this image and cropped it down to my specifications to include in this article. Pretty spiffy.

When done sightseeing and geocaching I got back into jumper one, and switched page over to the Navigation screen, patiently waiting for me to continue on my journey. Took me right to the post office now that I was done messing around. Got my stamp, mailed my letter and was back on my way to the rest of my planed activities for the day. Does Droid search for things and then take you there? It does!!!

Monday, December 07, 2009

And she's dreaming again . . .

So last night I had a dream that has stuck with me. I was out wandering around and don't even remember what I was doing at the moment. The part however that stuck with me is I was heading up some stairs and a woman was coming down, as she got close she said "Are Lesbians allowed down here?"

I blinked, looked around and said in some surprise "Of course? Why wouldn't Lesbians be allowed?" as if the thought was (and is) crazy to me.

She said "Well I just wasn't sure if you were leaving because someone was giving you problems?"

I just don't know about a world were people have to live worried that we are somehow less than other people because we are different. I wanted to give her a hug and tell her everything was going to be fine, but I couldn't honestly say that because I have no idea what she'd run into in her life. But it still left me sad she'd even have to think that way. For her to live with any kind of fear is something I can unfortunately can relate to on a deep level. Not so much because I may or may not be a Lesbian, but because I lived so long in fear.

Come to think of it, I have no idea why she asked me. It's not like either one of us look particularly like a Lesbian whatever that might be. Maybe I just looked trustworthy and honest. Oh, right, that's why I loved in fear so long. Ah well, anyway this wasn't really about me. It was about a world where anyone has to live in any kind of fear. Regrettably, it's this one.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Busty McBabbles rides again . . .

. . . and while I saw it coming, I'm still stunned that an editor somewhere didn't set a match to this horrid excuse for a book. On "Going Rogue" Ed at writes:

and lastly,

To be honest, this is exactly what I expected. Ed has saved me the pain of reading this work of fiction to confirm what I already knew. Normally I don't judge a book by either it's cover, or it's reviews, but having suffered the mind splitting agony of Palin off a prompter a while back, I knew there aren't enough ghost writers in the 'verse to make Palin look good. She is, and has been all the fun of a monkey shit fight at the zoo, just without all the fur. The flying excrement, oh no worries, it's in there. I think I'm going to send Ed the $9 dollars he saved me as a small token of thanks for heading off the hours of protracted vomiting this book would have induced. Reading the review is the only GOOD thing to come out of the whole sorted book concept. The only thing more terrifying than this book are the tens of thousands of morons lining up at her book signings. To call them Lemmings would be an insult to Lemmings. These mindless automatons flocking in droves to her book signings are all the "fun" of Robots who've been programmed without the three laws, or worse, "Skynet" of the "Terminator" franchise. And you all thought Ronny "Raygun" Reagen was bad? Ha! Whatever you do, just say NO to Busty McBabbles and her horrific work of fiction. Save the $9 dollars for a gallon or two of gas instead, you'll need it to drive to Canada if this assault on sanity does run for President in 2012.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A taste of the past . . .

When I was young, I adored ketchup on fries, burgers, hot dogs and so much more. I even used to make ketchup sandwiches, I know, weird, but hey, I was a strange kid. And then, suddenly my romance with ketchup was over. I mourned for a while. It was Heinz, that much I remember, but I never understood why I didn't like it anymore. And after a while I didn't really care anymore, I just didn't have the same feelings from ketchup that I had. I kept it around, because I still use it on some things, but much less often than I had.

Recently I had to get more. And was faced with an isle full of different kinds of Heinz. On a whim, I noticed the reduced sugar variety and since I prefer things with less sugar, I got that. Figured it was a good plan. Plus, I don't use tomato sauce that has sugar in it, why put up with it in ketchup right?

So I imagine by now you know where I'm going with this right? The first thing I noticed when I tasted it was it tasted like me old friend from all those years ago. It's much less sweet and a bit more zesty than "standard" off the shelf Heinz, which makes it perfect! But the first thing I noticed is it tastes like Heinz used to taste, simply awesome! Which means of course that I have ketchup to put on fries again! Sugar isn't even in the ingredients. Admittedly sucralose (Splenda) is, which is fine, because it's made from sugar, but healthy unlike Aspartame.

But it's the taste that has me so happy. Because it tastes like ketchup used to taste!

Friday, November 06, 2009

My latest picture ...

It dawned on me that I didn't have any recent pictures, and the one I'd been using was lovely in terms of color, but it wasn't the best. So, the mood struck me and I thought I'd take a new one today. Mind you it was taken with a beat up old Sony that had been in the bottom of my purse for the longest time, and I did it handheld in the bathroom mirror. The only processing pre or post was to fluff my hair with my fingers and ad some Gaussian blur to the background to give it a bit more depth. Otherwise, this is me, au-natural and up close. Certainly much closer than the last one, which not coincidentally was taken with the same camera in April of 2008. So this one was taken today.

For those who are wondering if I'm double joined or have super elastic arms, it was all done with mirrors. Well one to be exact. I held the camera up, and pointed it slightly down and closer to the mirror than to me. With the tiny little lens zoomed in slightly. This way I avoided the classic "Took my own picture in the mirror look!" All just a trick of the light, and a wee bit of simple physics. Those who remember grade school science, will remember that the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection. A heartfelt thank you to all the teachers who've toughed my life over the years, and especially Mr. Wilbert in seventh grade science. He found me endlessly amusing because I had one of the first led digital watches (back in 77) that glowed red on my wrist, I knew really well how to make a railgun, but refused to cut open a frog. You want me to do what? Thanks but no.

For my friends who are photographers, please accept my apologies, so totally not my best work. I was just to lazy to haul out the big gun, tripod, lighting and do a proper job in post. So this is grainy, lossy, small, and the layer work for the background selection was pure quick freehand lazy. One day soon, I'll do this right, but for now, it's better than what I had. Oh, right, plus I'd not ex-foliated my skin, blown out my hair, plucked my brows, put on any makeup or dressed particularly well. In other words, both I, and the picture are a mess. But it's one of the best ones to date in spite of all that.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Say NO to hate!

The cause of Equality suffered a crushing blow in Maine on election day. Equality California who similarly suffered last year, has a petition going to implore President Obama to step in and I think it's an awesome idea. Please join my in signing the petition? Please spare Equality a few precious moments to send President Obama a clear indication that what has happened in Maine, California, Arizona, and 31 other states that it is unconstitutional for the "Majority" to deliberately and intentionally enshrine discrimination against a small, but growing majority in to our legal system.

We need to make it clear that narrow minded bigotry and hate is NOT a family value we wish to hand down to our children. We need to take steps to reign in the terror of foolishness that the religious institutions are spreading. We need to fight the lies with the beauty of truth! We need to spread love, acceptance and understanding through out the land, loving our neighbors. What would Buddha say? What would Jesus say or do? They would stand together, as equals with all their brothers, sisters and children of a loving God to say NO TO HATE! We can do no less! Please take a moment and sign with me? Thank you.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What Does It Mean To Be A Man

A scorpion walks up to a frog and expresses his desire to cross a river.  The wary frog confesses that he is concerned the scorpion will sting him and thus he will die.  Our noble scorpion points out that if he were to sting the frog he would surely drown, thus ending his own life and not reaching the far bank of the river.  Persuaded, they set out to cross the river, frog swimming with scorpion on his back.

Midway across the scorpion stings the frog, as they both begin to succumb to a death that is certain the frog asks why?

"Because it's in my nature . . ." replies the scorpion.

You may wonder at the wisdom of starting my post off in such a fashion.  Buddha teaches that "right" should be our compass, and right speech causes me to wonder at my place in this discussion.

"And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter: This is called right speech."

It would be terribly off topic for me to get into ethical practice as taught by Buddha or even Christ, for I am neither and it would not be my place.

Similarly, because it has never been in my nature, I would be a poor spokesperson for Men.  Especially given my history with them.  In "She's Not There" Jenny Boylan talks about developing an oppositional relationship with men as she makes her own journey toward self.  I remember marveling at such a concept as I read her book for the first time.  For me it was as alien a concept as any I'd ever come across.  She also waxed poetic on breaking out of the habits of old, that of having an oppositional relationship with women.  Again something I didn't understand or relate to in any way.

In my own travels I've spent the better part of a lifetime trying to break my oppositional relationship with men, and thus have a better, or at least healthier relationship with them.  I have always looked to women as people I innately understood and could relate to, because that was just how my heart and soul have always worked.  I could and did spend hours, days, years having deep and meaningful conversations and relationships with women, and men fell into two classes.  Those who did abuse and mistreat me, and those who, given a chance, most certainly would.  They have, despite my best intent, remained aliens to me.  Conversations with them typically started and ended with hollow pleasantries, and empty context.  In their defense, they understood me even less than I them.

After all for a goodly number of years I looked like, I should be, one of them.

Alas, it was no more my nature than an alien with a disguise that made them appear human.  Or the scorpion who by killing the frog, doomed himself.

Survival was, for me, a matter of some incredibly complex rules very much like computer programs, to afford me some level of camouflage.  I drew upon the iconic images of "manhood" available to me at the time.  "Kirk, Spock, Scotty, McCoy, with measures of Steve Austin, Steve Trevor and Colonel Hogan thrown in."  It was a role I clung to as a drowning woman awash in turbulent waters might cling to any scrap of wood to help keep her afloat.  The only real redeeming feature of my characterization was that I was every woman's friend and potential mate.  Long after I was married, people were wondering how to have me cloned, because after all, I was the PERFECT . . ."  And I still cannot bring myself to use the honorific afforded to male spouses.  Friend's Mother's dreamed their daughters would find a "guy" like me.  Every time I heard that I laughed, cried, and died a little bit inside.

When no longer could I take the strain of such an egregious, ongoing lie, I took steps to embrace my nature and everything that meant.  Poor Mr. Frog just had to die.  Even if it meant drowning myself.

One friend, who was in the  cloning me camp had this to say when I shared my secret:

"Oh my God, I'm a Lesbian!  I wish I'd known that sooner, I could have been searching for Ms. Right."

I was, to say the least, taken back.

She went on to point out that for all the years she'd known me, she was looking for someone like me, the "perfect mate" because of the way I treated women I was close to.  Then it hit her.

"Oh my God, you were just running the girl play book because that's the only thing you knew.  You treated women the way YOU wanted to be treated.  It all makes sense now, how you could know so well what to say or do at a given point.  Because you ARE one of us.  Wow, how much that has to have hurt?"

Yeah, ever on the outside in the cold longing to warm myself by the heart of humanities core.  To be part of the sisterhood, included, truly understood, and no longer forced by cruel fates into a role I was ill suited to play.  Method acting in simplest form, is getting into the mind of your character and understanding what moves them.  I had no context for what was supposed to be moving my character, so I created all these rules to simulate it based on what I saw of iconic men around me.  Yeah, over the top, idealized, men that didn't and couldn't exist.  No more human than Alf.

For years I wandered around the periphery of theater, aching to be a thespian, but staying off the stage because I was spending my entire waking existence acting one role I couldn't understand, let alone play well.  Taking on another role I couldn't understand?  Somehow then balancing the character I'd have to play against the one I was playing?

Victor Victoria anyone?  Julie Andrews I have never been, though to sing like her has oft been my dream.

So that's my long winded way of saying I have utterly no idea what it means to be a man.

Truth to tell I've learned more about them since I stopped trying so hard to be one than I've ever known.  But I'm still ill prepared to speak with eloquence or any semblance of authority on the subject.  Plus given my history with them, I'd be hard pressed to not dissemble and present a less clear and honest picture of them.  It would not be as Buddha teaches us, right speech.  Christ would similar take umbrage with bearing false witness.  And to round it out fully, as my Grams would say: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything." 

So that's kinda my long way around saying I have no idea what it means to be a man and with my experience I'm probably the last woman on earth to answer that question.

Now, so that there's no confusion, yes, I've spent the better part of my life being used and abused by men.  From my mentally ill father, to my equally unhealthy late husband, I've spent a major portion of this life, and the one immediately prior, on the wrong end of less than the best that half of our species has to represent them.  I'm working on getting past all that.  But it should be clear it has nothing to do with NOT being one of them.  Frankly had I NOT been abused, not been so carelessly and ruthlessly used I'm certain I'd have resolved my problems when I was five.  In fact it is specifically because I wasn't and could never be one of them that I suffered so long at their hands.  I wasn't one of them, and couldn't be myself, so I was stuck.  My father made that endlessly clear when at five I honestly asked when we could go to the doctor so he could fix me. That didn't go over well with him.  So I was never good enough, always unacceptable, wrong somehow he couldn't accept and I wasn't allowed to talk about.

I've been female since long before I even knew fully what the difference was.  But that never really helped much.  I could no more see into and men's world than they can ours for the most part, and compromise was unacceptable.  So I fought to hold on, to fit somehow, to play the part I was TOLD I WAS and would always be.  My Father spent the dozen years between five and when he threw me out of the house at 17 bound and determined to make a man out of me if it killed him.  Well, that worked out so well for him.  He's dead six years now, and I'm still the daughter he refused to accept when I was five.

So, "What Does it Mean To Be A Man?"  I have no idea.  My life probably might have been a whole bunch less traumatic and painful if I did know.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Does It Mean To Be A Woman?

Hello, My name is Samantha. I am a woman. This is part of what that means to me.

1. Being a woman is about sanity, not anatomy.
Don't get me wrong, I know, and have known many sane men in my time. Not that kind of sanity, but a longer view. About cherishing our lives, hearts, minds, souls and family in ways I've never known men to really "Grok" as the saying goes. It means seeing more connectedness the ourselves, each other, and our world than many men allow themselves to be.

2. Being a woman is a state of grace.
Not in a particular religion specific context, and not about being graceful. It's just a different place, in time and space. I suddenly think about the first entry in my list. But more, it's about a level of freedom our socio-cultural context doesn't permit men to experience.

3. Being a woman isn't about feeling, it's about what we do with them.
In general, men (singular man) regarless of culture suffer under a systemic oppression rooted in every facet of being. Social skills and connections, language, appearance, "presentation" all are rigigidly controlled to what frankly I consider an insane degree. Mistake not what I say here; Men (Man, Male half of the species, whatever) have a hard row to hoe, they feel every bit as deeply and powerfully as we do. They are as much slaves to their hormones as we are. They even, if you get to know them well enough, have cycles like we do. Men can be every bit the slaves to "British Boarding School Syndrome" as we can be.

The biggest difference there? We can (and often do) talk about it, embrace it, accept it, and integrate it into our lives. They. Do. NOT! They cannot, it's not permitted. DO NOT even think about it! Their own internal existence makes them run screaming from the concept, let alone the socio-cultural taboos ingrained into them.

4. Being a woman is about being this terrifying, mystical creature.
We terrify men. Just ask them. I did once, and the answer was so primal and simple I was floored. In all serious a man looked at me and said:

"I'm sorry, but anything that can bleed for days straight and not fall over dead, terrifies me! Women just happen to be at the top of that list. "

We speak, according to them, a language wholly our own and unique, because while they understand and can spell all the words we use, they often have no idea what we are talking about. And you know, that terrifies them too.

Many of us, after a little bit of "mattress dancing" STOP bleeding for a while, swell up like we've consumed a watermellon whole, and then after walking around like this for months, have another little human being come out of that place of blood, fear, pleasure and mystery. And getting there, well that scares men. Ask them to push a disabled car off to the side of the road, and WhooRa! They are all over it like white on rice. Have them catch a cold or get constipated and they turn into frightened little boys and complain constantly. Then they have to watch as over the course of several hours sometimes, as we push a bowling ball out of a part of us they spend some much time trying to get close to, in what is a times a comic obsession they seem to have.

5. Being a woman is about being free, and beautiful, connected, connecting, whole and part of something infinitely greater than ourselves.
Sure, we're a majority of living breathing, wonderful people who have been forced into a minority position. We're second class citizens. We DO NOT enjoy male privilege, and everything that means. We are oppressed, abused, used, misunderstood, treated like property, and almost always on the wrong end of "male privilege" and it's something we can't even relate to other than the see what men use it for.

Frankly I think we're better off for not being able to use it or relate to it other than as outsiders looking in. I've never really seen anything good come of it, and wouldn't know what to do with it if someone GAVE it to me. It's use and consequences go against fundamentally everything thing I believe and feel is important to me.

But it's freedom and connectedness I keep coming back to. It's the sisterhood I know and feel at a level so deep I'm not even sure there are words for it, and something that men don't get. It's inclusion, connection and sharing. Not about size, exclusivity and being King of all one surveys.

6. Being a woman is about living with shame, pain, and all sorts of horrific things that would kill a man outright.
No, not shades of my younger "Militant Radical Lesbian Feminist" self, just some of what I've lived through. Men cannot even begin to comprehend what I and my sisters, mothers and grandmothers and so on have lived through. Which is why regrettably our daughters will have to go through it too.

But we survive and grow more often than not. That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Which again is why we scare men to their core. (See number 4 about blood, same thing.) But it the things we feel, express, live through and move on from. "Shelter from the Same" by J.D. Danner comes to mind, and it's something men usually cannot relate to in anyway.

It's about not having to actually walk a mile in someone else's shoes to care about how they are feeling, what they are going through, and instinctively need to help in someway, even if it's just a hug, caring heart, and a willingness to listen and share.

7. Being a woman is about being, not becoming.
It's about a presence in our own lives, and the lives of those around us, our children, our families, that men to the best of my knowledge don't get to experience. Yes, we grow into ourselves, but we are not exploding forward into a harsh world that needs to be conquered and controlled. It's finding ourselves walking along where we are, not where we are going to.

Being a woman is every bit the difference between is and will be. Being a woman means being able to talk about body parts and functions without giggling like a child. Being a woman is about way more than breasts, a vagina, and makin' babies. It's about love and so much more.

It's about freedom and beauty. It's about something my Mother shared with me a lifetime ago it seems: "We live through the bad times my dear because it helps us really appreciate the good times." Being a woman is about contrast, strength and all the wonder of the universe.

That's just a small part of what being a woman means to me.

My deep thanks to Liz, Lori, Véronique and Flartus for bringing this idea for a blog post to my head and heart, for always managing to touch my soul with some beauty. As this blog chain grows, I'll add updates to other perspectives. If you want to add a link to your own entry addressing this topic, please feel welcome to by clicking below:

I'm about to do something contraversial . . .

. . .and generally out of character for me, and my blog. I like to embrace balance, harmony, peace and quiet reflection. I endeavor when possible to be as much a living, breathing, Zen Koan as one woman can be.

So it is not lightly that I choose to make the following statement and in essence stir up a mess 'o somethin' here.

"Sauce/Gravy/whatever you call" it that goes into pretty much anything Italian red in color is NOT supposed to be SWEET like Candy.

Hold it, hold it, HOLD IT!!! Settle down please!!!

Okay, now that I have your attention.

I know, there are those who claim it needs sugar - (WTH! SUGAR?) - as it's primary ingredient or it's not authentic, well I'm sorry but I don't agree. The primary ingredient is supposed to be tomato, and in a good Italian Sauce one never adds sugar. Like ever, not a dash, not a pinch, not even a light wave over the pot. It's the combination of long duration, low temperature, cooking of the right ingredients, that brings out the natural sweetness of what goes into the mix, it's even one's choice of tomatoes, types of onions, garlic, basil . . .

. . . there's an endless list of ingredients that make or break a good slow cook sauce. Closest one should get to sugar in a good sauce is whatever sugar there is in the wine ones cooks with if one is making that type of sauce.

But. Never. Sugar.

Not in the mood to make something from scratch? That's fine, I understand, just read your labels. If the word sugar is even on the label, think twice about using it. If it's in the top five ingredients, think of taking it to a toxic waste Superfund site for proper disposal.

If HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP shows at any level of ingredients, immediately seal it in plastic, scrub down, and turn it over to your local Hazardous Waste Specialists. Every county has a HAZMAT team these days.

A good sauce can be as simple as tomatoes, garlic, onion, olive oil and time to let it all "cook down" to the desired consistency. Even the simplest of sauces my Mom used to make (when she didn't "doctor up" something else) took at least a day to make right if from scratch. Now don't be frightened by this, done right it doesn't mean slaving away all day over a stove. It means getting it started in the morning, and then letting it cook over the course of the day, stirring occasionally while it slow cooked over low temps all day long.

You can get fancy, and creative, worrying the right notes of what type of Tomato(s) to use, types of garlic, onion, basil . . .

. . . pretty much every ingredient that goes into a good sauce has a "note," it's own unique characteristics that it brings to the sauce over time. Want "sweeter" less tangy sauce? Use plumb tomatoes, roasted garlic and vidalia onions. When I say roasted garlic I mean soak it in EVOO, wrap it in tin foil, and bake it until it turns all liquid inside. The garlic will come out of the clove in a gush of liquid garlic yumminess simply by squeezing it. Not a fan of vidalia onions? Take a sweet yellow onion, dice it up, and lightly caramelize it in some EVOO before you add it to the pot. Instant magic.

There are so many different ways, I could talk about adding "sweet" notes to a sauce, for months. I'm not even kidding.

Want something fast, healthy and out of a jar? Make sure sugar doesn't appear on the label, and feel free to experiment. I'm a fan of Classico as a good base myself. I often flavor my garlic with Classico and oh my do they have an amazing variety of sauces to play with as a starting point.

Not one of them has sugar in the ingredients list.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sunday, Sunday, so good to me . . .

. . .yes, I know, the Mommas and the Pappas sang about Monday, but this made me laugh, plus Sunday didn't leave me crying.

Sunday was "amazing" in that I did something I'd not done in years, and wasn't certain I'd ever be able to do again. Most significant in it's amazingness, was that it was so normal.

Yes, doesn't much figure does it that an amazing day could be normal.

Vicky Jo thinks all my days should be amazing, and frankly I agree. I just have to get there. But have a day be amazing because it's normal? Wait, What?!

Sunday started with a rather interesting dream that took me by surprise. I was having a celebratory breakfast with Danny Glover and his wife. It was the end of a longish road to recovery for him, In ways, the luxury of going out to a nice normal breakfast for him was amazing. You see in his dream, he'd had a stroke of some sort, and I'd sat with him, treating him with Reiki, Hypnotherapy, and Counseling to help him heal and grow past the event. It had taken time, and despite his initial belief that his life was over, he made an amazing recovery.

So at breakfast he was lavishing the praise on me for being a miracle worker and doing something the doctors said would never happen. To his view, I'd given him his life back. I smiled and said that he'd taken his life back, I just helped him see the light, walk the path, and invest in his own future. Me of course I was enjoying spending time with Danny Glover beacuse well he's just a nice down to earth guy who knows how to have fun. I'll admit it, I'm a fan of his. So we were having this mutual admiration thing going on over breakfast. His wife jokingly suggested we just get a room.

Anyway, waking up after that dream wasn't such a bad thing. I'd done good, and helped someone find their way back to the land of the living. Good way to start a day.

Many years ago, before my life had ended, or at least life as I knew it, I'd started a hobby/sport? Geocaching is a modern day "treasure hunt" that uses GPS receivers to find "caches" of stored trinkets. The GPSR will get you so close, and then you've got to find the cache from there. What I love most about it is the sense of accomplishment, and that it gets me out of the hose and to places I'd never otherwise go. Some of the best hours I had in terms of "stress management" was spending a couple of hours hunting for caches. I've found myself in lovely parks, going on walks that were refreshing and beautiful. With everything else, I'd lost this part of my life a while back.

Recently I had to upgrade my phone, the phone I had was three years old, and in part, I had Apple iPhone envy, so just any phone wasn't going to work. There was also the limitation that for several years now my internet connection has been through my phone, so just any phone wouldn't do. There's also the matter that my current phone was only 2g, and 3 was out, with 4g coming the beginning of the year. I needed to upgrade. I'm also not as, shall we say, financially well off as I once was, and could not afford to switch to AT&T. Lastly, T-Mobile had recently recognized my loyalty as a customer buy giving me the unlimited calling plan for half off what everyone else pays for it. I didn't want to lose that. So, it had to be a data capable phone that was just like the iPhone Plus, this phone is a yummy Merlot color instead of black with silver trim. So yes, it appealed to my aesthetic tastes too.

Thankfully, T-Mobile had something that fit the bill. So for just the upgrade price of the headset, and keeping my monthly billing where it was, I managed to get all the yummy, touch screen, applicious goodness without the huge expense in terms of money. Over simply put, anything the iPhone can do, my new phone can do too!

"Yes Samantha, there's an app for that."

One of those apps let's me turn my phone into a high end GPSR. And once again I'm caching again! Well, that's assuming I can get out of the house, deal with people, and being outside, and noise, and, and, and . . . yeah, it really is like that sometimes. One of the caches I went hunting for was the Ohio River Floodplain in Indiana. So Sunday, yes dear reader we are back to Sunday once again, I decided I was going to go caching again. I'd already managed some on Saturday, and wasn't freaking out or anything, so I thought I'd give it a try again. I saved the Ohio River Floodplain for last. Figuring that because of the nature of the cache, I'd have least managed to get two before this one if this was more than I was up for. So, I hit the first two and got them out of the way fairly quickly. Well except for driving in circles on the "Gold" level of a parking structure trying to get to the "Purple" one. I hit the first two, then went and had a bite to eat, in the restaurant, and then was on my way to the last cache of the day, and what promised to be a nice sunset over looking the Ohio River. How bad could THAT be?

Well as it turned out, not bad at all. Very not bad! Was actually really good. Sunshine, fresh autumn air, the leaves starting to change, and what was all in all a two mile walk. You can get a general idea from the little map to the left that shows the start point and end point of one leg of the trip. I started at the green marker, walked up to the last yellow marker, and then back again.

Aside from collecting the data (this was a special kind of cache, and earth cache) I was enjoying the view, the fresh air, sunshine, and learning more about the town of Lawrenceberg, Indiana. Like the massive repeated destruction it suffered from a number of horrible floods over the years. The entire reason the levee was built in the first pace. In 1937 for example, the entire town was under more than fifty feet of water. It was one of a number of times over the years this happened.

There was also the small matter of the sight seeing. Of course there was the lovely sunset (top of post) that I just stood there enjoying while breathing the crisp fall air. It was dark by the time I could pry myself away, thankfully the whole area was well lit board walk style.

I'd made it through the entire day without the background noise of my past that pervades my head and heart. One very brief, but thankfully minor flashback that I managed to push away and get back to enjoying the moment I was in. I was focused on being entirely present, in that moment on top of the levee, making new memories of a time beyond the pain and destruction of my past. I was living the Zen Koan:

"Put no distance between you, and where you are."

And that's exactly what I'd spent the day doing. Meditation without sitting still and not thinking, instead, mindfulness, being in that moment, that place and time I might never have been to were it not for geocaching. I took a nice leisurely drive towards home, stopping to do some grocery shopping and thinking about nothing more pressing than what I was going to make for dinner. It was a normal, relaxed, fall Sunday, the likes of which I'd not had in more than a decade. And that to me was AMAZING!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The taste of green . . .

. . .yes, green has, after a fashion, a taste. Well at least in this case it does. Until very recently I have not been drinking enough water. I don't drink endless bottles of water that you can buy a case at a time at the grocery store or walmart, but DO filter my own at home. For the longest time I'd been reusing some of those prepackaged bottles, refilling them over and over again. This still felt like a compromise, especially given concerns about all the toxic chemicals leaching from the plastic. Then it was some of the healthier chemical free bottles you buy and refill, but there is still something of a flavor to it. That plastic taste, kept me from really drinking my share, plus to be honest, I was having trouble with the odd pull top they had, keeping it clean was a challenge.

So I've had this ongoing dream of finding a decent, inexpensive, refillable, easy to keep clean water bottle. My dream ultimately was for one of the simple screw top, stainless steel water bottles. At around 20 dollars a bottle, it was going to remain a dream for quite sometime. Until one late night and a bit of wandering through the local Kroger that is trying to compete with Whole Foods. I happen to float down the seasonal/bbq isle. It had an endless variety of plastic water bottles, in fact a few months earlier I'd picked up a couple of BPA free plastic bottles there. Mind you they also had a few different kinds of Stainless bottles there, but again, priced higher than I wanted to spend. That night however was special, amazing, a gift from above even. Why? Because my dream bottles were marked down to under five bucks each. 75% off? Oh yeah! I bought six of them. When I mentioned the luck I'd had to my sister-in-law Ellie, she asked me if I could get her some. So I went back the next day and got the last four they had. Score!

So price not withstanding, one thing I'd not expected was to once again enjoy drinking plain old water. Nothing in it. No flavors, chemicals, additives, nothing. Just pure, clean, filtered water. The taste is what struck me. It has the thirst quenching bit of yum that keeps me coming back for more, bottle after bottle. What does is taste like?

Clean. It tastes clean, bright, like a mountain stream in the spring melt.

I like that taste, even love it.

So I've been drinking water like a crazy woman.

And I've been enjoying it!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Much as I hate to admit it . . .

. . . fall is near. I can feel it. I'm starting to do my mad dash of cleaning and nesting. It's like spring fever, only I get it in the fall. Now despite the fact that it is 81 and humid outside, that unmistakable signal is going off, and like any beastie that tends toward hibernation, I'm starting to get ready. I guess this speaks well for my growing feeling of being one of the housed, but I'm not pushing my luck. Anyway. despite the fact that we haven't even had Indian summer yet, I've been cleaning and organizing and getting ready anyway.

Took Jumper One to the fancy car wash place yesterday after spending the day cleaning and organizing her. Vacuumed her out, and got the deluxe car wash. Did the dash and console with the "Armoral" stuff they recommend for the interior surfaces, and really cleaned her up nice. She hasn't looked this good since she was new. Which considering the money I've put into the rest of her, only makes sense. Next on my list is to finish cleaning out the back seats and wash the inside of the windows and she'll be really rocking. I may even finally spring for the seat covers I've had my eye on for a while. Soft, comfy, and black with bright embroidered butterflies. Since Jo's birthday was in July and I don't really consider four new tires to be a real birthday present, the pretty seat covers should do nicely. When I looked out the window this morning I noticed the rims were silver in color which surprised me. They've been so covered with road dirt that I'd forgotten what they looked like.

Speaking of birthdays, mine was awesome. It was honestly the best in five years. Why? Because folks noticed, cared, and even to my surprise, there was Pizza and Cake! Yes, real honest to goodness ice cream cake. Woot! My sister-in-law was amazed, I actually had two pieces. Then again, she says I eat like a bird. Which until she mentioned it, I hadn't really thought about, but it's true, I really don't eat that much. Which makes it so frustrating that I weigh what I do.

Anyway, my birthday was awesome if simple. To be honest, simple is good for me, great even, because it was much more real that way. Though my birthday this year had, for a while, the highest percentage of under 20 folks I've ever had for one of my birthdays. Word got out in my sister-in-law's neighborhood that there was ice cream cake to be had at her house and you just know what happened then! Honestly it was fun. The kids were all so amazed I was willing to share my birthday cake with them. I thought it was cute, and I'm still just a kid in so many ways it was fun.

Pizza one the other hand, it was just the four of us since my brother (understandably) was off doing something else. One of his friends from Colorado was in visiting for a few days and it was the first time they'd been in the same state in about eight years. Back when we were sharing a house I too knew his friend, so I spent the earlier part of the day with them before they went off to play on the river for four days and then the Labor Day fireworks show. For me, it was the first time in way more than a decade since I'd seen Mike, and it was really good to see him. Mike has known about my little journey since just shortly after I told my brother, so there was no big shock there. When I got down to the Marina the closest I got to a comment was a big hug and "Damn girl, you look awesome! I got old and you got younger and awesome looking, frankly it hardly seems fair." So you know, I'll take that.

So obviously I understood they weren't going to be around before I found out we were even having a party. While I'm good with a house full of kids for a party, my brother and his friends have shall we say, always had a different idea of what was a party. And wine, well that doesn't really count. So it was kinda Girl's night out plus my namesake. Which he's all boy, he's not yet reached the age where a room full of women is a bad thing. Plus he just adores one of the neighborhood girls who showed up when there was cake around. She on the other hand is just old enough to think he's evil and runs from him. If I had to guess, I'd say she's maybe all of five.

My namesake on the other hand is going to be two next month, and for a two year old he's already gigantic. He so get's that from my brother. He's mastered running around like he's on fire, playing rough, and the tricycle next door. I mean pedaling and steering. It's awesome to watch, but he's growing like a so-cal forest fire when the Santa Anna winds come calling. He's just starting to get a grasp on language, and of course words like NO! Next will be MINE! And trust me, he's already starting to show the signs of that. The terrible twos are starting, and he hasn't officially turned two yet, it should be fun.

The part I'm looking forward to is when he figures out his name and mine are almost the same. I imagine in fairly short order I'll be hearing Samantha a whole bunch more than Sam, just so as not to make things more confusing. It's already started happening, since when there have been times when Val and Sam are in the kitchen while I'm in the living room and my back is turned or something. I'm sure there's going to be great fun over the years as he grows up and makes the connection between our names. I'm looking forward to that, and the ensuing confusion over the fact that he has not one, not two, but THREE Aunt Sams. My sister-in-law has two other really close friends who are named Samantha as well, and they always say good things come in threes right.

My adopted (unofficially) daughter went out of her way to make me a card, and you know, that was really special for me. Best birthday card I've had to date, then again I'm biased. I feel terrible that I left it at my sister-in-law's house, but I'm confident she's holding onto it for me. When I get up there in the next day or so, it will come home with me and sit here on my desk where I can see it.

So anyway, all my babbling aside, I had an awesome birthday, one I'll long remember and treasure. It's a great distance from last year's which kind of quietly got lost, mainly because my brother forgets, and my sister-in-law didn't know.

It's also a great distance from the four before it, when my life was such a horrific mess that reminding me of the anniversary of my birth was the last thing I or anyone wanted to do. My life, was at that point marked in terms of one crisis to the next, being really profoundly homeless in spite of a place other than my car to sleep, and precious little I or anyone could do about it. So my life has improved dramatically since those days. And I hate to say that it involved getting far enough away from my sister-in-law (A different one - Ellie in Jersey) that I wasn't forever bailing her out of one crisis after another that she fabricated for both of us. That however is some back story that I'll get around to adding to "A Mile In Her Shoes" someday soon.

For now however, this year's was an awesome birthday, and I certainly wouldn't mind more of these.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Birthdays . . .

Mine was yesterday, and for the first time in years, it was really awesome! But I'll get back to that a bit later.

More important is that today is Lori's birthday and I think everyone coming here, should stop over there, and wish her a very happy birthday! We love you Lori!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The persistence of memories . . .

Today was an ideal day for a walk, so off to the lake I went. It was also a perfect day for a BBQ it would seem, for as I made my way around the lake the unmistakable aroma of a charcoal fire reached me and took me back to times past.

Many years ago, my father would pile the whole family into the car on days like today, as well as a cooler full of food, a bag of Kingsford and of course our trusty Habachi. We then head over to Schepaug park for a day playing in the water and of course a BBQ! He would vanish for most of the day into the bowels of the nearby iron mine looking for rocks.

So of course as I was walking around the lake, my senses transported me back to those lost, but not forgotten days in the water and sun at a road side park. Oddly enough, I lived on the shore of a lake growing up, but the real joy of playing in the water was there in the Schepaug river. I have some pictures of that spot at home, and when I get there, I'll post some of them. Hope you're all having a day of good memories . . . Charlie Pride is singing "Burgers and Fries" on the radio as I get ready to send this. It was fresh and new, playing on 1050WHN back in those days, somehow it's so appropriate right now . . .

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Strange dreams . . .

Yeah, I know, two posts in one day? What's gotten into her?

So I've been having these series of ongoing dreams based on Charmed. Yeah, I know, it's a TV show Sam, a canceled one at that, but hey I still watch it on DVD now and then. Okay, more than now and then, I go through phases. Oddly enough, Phoebe and I are still in a relationship despite the fact that at the end of the series she and Coop are married and have children of their own.

Anyway, in this dream I was "working out" with Paige. She wanted to hone her skills dealing with demon attacks and the like. So I was pretending to be a demon (much like Leo had pretended to be Balthazar a while back) and throwing energy balls at her. Energy balls?!?!? Me?

And that dear readers is why this blog entry. Something inside me has changed, I known not what right now, but I was throwing "low voltage" energy balls at Paige like it was the most natural thing in the world. This is strange because it's something I'd never really do, in fact for most of my life was utterly terrified of doing anything like it. I won't bore you with a discussion of Quantum Physics and how it might even be possible, or entertain the idea that it's not even possible, because well, someone says it can't be done. Neither of those trains of thought are relevant here. What is however is that I was throwing energy balls, and could have easily increased them in size and power to cause harm and damage. Could have taken them from demonstration to weaponry with nothing more than a thought.

And it didn't even freak me out. It should have, or at least would have once upon a time.

When I was young, I had a recurring nightmares of doing horrific damage and causing pain, intentionally, because I was in a rage and suffering everyone else should. I'd long ago "locked out" any chance of something like that using hypnotherapy. While I've studied more than enough Quantum Physics ( A.K.A. Metaphysics) to know how to do it, it was more in an attempt to define and hone the controls or limits I placed on myself.

That included dreaming. Or it did. Until last night.

Throwing energy balls as easy as breathing. And I shouldn't be. Ever. No matter how hard I tried, I shouldn't be able to do that for any reason.

Then again, now that I think of it, I got angry the other day. Really angry, and managed to work through it without wanting to kill myself, or anyone else. This for me is something new too. Last time I got really angry and let myself feel it, let alone express it, it nearly cost me my life. No that's not being over dramatic trust me. Anyway, that's another story, probably better for my other blog.

The point here is now that I think of it, two amazing things have happened of late, and I'm at a loss to quite fully figure it out. Though now that I think about it, I can't help but think that they are related. Got very angry, the world didn't come to an end, and now she's throwing energy balls in her dreams. Will the wonders never cease?

I just tripped over the double standard . . .

. . . and is my face red.

I'm a feminist. I always have been. Since I can remember I've been one, since I've known what a Feminist is I've been one. Because of my past, and my childhood, I was, for a good portion of my life accused of being a "Militant Radical Lesbian Feminist." [MRLF] I was even once heard to say that the moment women could control birth sex to select for females, and could reproduce without men involved, they (men) would die off in what might be the ultimate twist on Darwinism. I even went as far as saying that men should be kept in cages, well trained and on very short leashes anytime they were out of the cage.

Thankfully I've out grown that by a fairly significant degree.

Now, I have known women who rage against the "double standard" here in the United States specifically, how it is evil and needs to be completely removed. They are as ardent in their fervor as I used to be when I was still a MRLF. They rage against being objectified as sex objects, and while I used to stand with my sisters on this subject, today I found myself something of a hypocrite.

Yeah, a hypocrite. Me. And wow, was my face red.

Last night I was watching "Top Gun" because someone on line had mentioned it, and I realized I hadn't seen it in a long time. That kind of set me up for my realization today. I'm driving back from Staples where I picked up more 200 page college ruled comp books because I go through them so fast. As I'm driving along I saw a guy jogging towards me in black shorts and sneakers, so I slowed down to get a better look at him. I'll not lie, he was a good looking man. Just the right amount of hair strong, fit, well simply put, quite yummy. So as my heart and mind is fantasizing about being held by him, touched, kissed, how he'd feel, smell, taste, the alarm bells started ringing in my head.

In the United States if I jog down the street in nothing but shorts, I'm going to get arrested, and of course have every male around staring at my breasts. I can't tell you the number of times in my life I've bent my knees to meet some guy's eyes and say gently "Hi, I'm up here?" I don't feel like I have to be the perfect example of femininity to attract a guy, or have them look at me. I NEVER slave over makeup, and often just run a brush through my hair and keep it in a ponytail. I used to argue right along side other feminists that we shouldn't be objectified as sex objects with all the passion and conviction they do.

So of course when I face planted after tripping over a fine line known as the double standard I realized, there are some benefits to it women take for granted. Mind you I don't think it helps much that men simply LOVE it when we stare at them fantasizing about them. So when I realized I was doing what I'd often protested so loudly against Men doing to me I realized I was as guilty of supporting the "double standard" as any one.

"Top Gun" I've always said was kind of a perfect date movie. Fast cars, Motorcycles, JETS, dog fighting, competition and of course the guy getting the girl. For women we got all the eye candy of cute young Navy Pilots, including a volleyball match that was just gratuitous male bodies on parade and of course the strong female lead who caught one of those cute young fighter pilots letting him think he caught her. The scenes of the two of them finally coming together giving views of both genders a chance to dream about being one of the two. As someone who's bi, I could and did imagine being with either one of them.

Which of course just cemented in my head and heart what a hypocrite I was today. So yeah, my face was red. But it makes me wonder about all the fuss over repulsive objectification of women, yet it's okay for us to do it to men? What else in the "double standard" is similarly skewed I have to wonder?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Progress is not a dirty word revisited.

I live, at the moment, for better or worse, on a fixed income. That's not really as important as the slow and steady steps I've been taking to make the most of things, and leave myself with some breathing room. Plus attempt to save for some things I'd like to do, including but not limited to a "rescue" mission of sorts to my storage locker. So I've been working on doing my best to keep slightly ahead of the man with his hands out without getting deeply in debt. My nefarious plan has been (knocking wood as she says this) working out more and more. It's a week to payday, and unlike the past, I am ahead of the game so to speak. All my bills are paid, in fact some of them prepaid a couple of months worth, I bought myself something special this month, spent time friends and family, have plenty of food in the house and money left in the bank. A safe cushion worth in fact. Plus I have meager reserves in case something were to happen with the car, or something along those lines. You know, the unexpected.

And this, is, for a change, equally unexpected. Unexpected, but blessed.

A year ago at this point, the last week of the month, I'd be hanging on waiting for payday with things tight enough they squeaked. Last year this month my bank of three years gave me a small unsecured credit card. The first one since Earl destroyed my life and credit. They've given me a line increase because I've been a very good girl. Then again, I've been "cheating" after a fashion. I keep a very small running balance month to month, and make large payments, well above the minimum every month right before my statement is generated. So from a credit score standpoint I'm NOT running up huge debt. From a bank standpoint they are making very small amounts of interest off of me, so they are happy. And me, I'm moving hundreds of dollars through it every month. They like that too. So it's basically a win/win situation. So much so that my horrible nonexistent credit rating has gone up to good and my insurance company dropped my rates by more than half. As I predicted twenty years ago I have unlimited 24/7 phone service (on my cell) for less per month than I used to pay just for local calling on the hardline. This is good! So much so that I don't even HAVE a hardline anymore. No point to it really.

So the hard work, planning, knowledge of banking and credit, and patience is paying off. It's still tight, then again it pretty much is for everyone, but it's breathable instead of panic tight. All in all, progress, which for the better part of almost two decades (the last two) has been a dirty word, has had it's status upgraded. For those with some military background, I am no longer operating at Defcon 1, and while I'd love to say I'm currently at Defcon 5, honesty demands that I say I'm not quite there yet. So this is kind of my long winded way of saying

"Attention On Deck: Set Condition 4, I repeat, we are now operating at condition 4."

Considering the last decade of my life, this is an amazing point. Now if I could get myself to really believe it, I might entertain DEFCON 5. But hey, it beats living for years on end at Condition One! So it's progress, and this is a good thing!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Today was, on so many levels, an amazing day . . .

. . . so much so that I have at least two posts in me about it. Part of it here, part of it on "A Mile In Her Shoes" only because it's got a harder edge to it.

So the awesome stuff, I had lunch with my friend Laura from "NPD Unmasked" today as she was headed east. As awesome as she is online pales this in comparison to hanging out in "Real Time" (Not to be confused with the Bill Mahr show) just chatting. I know from reading her blog, that like me, she's been to hell and back. Despite that she's strong, smart, beautiful, and has, in my opinion, made more progress toward healing and growth than I have. She's also got the most awesome puppy named Emily and I got to meet her today too.

For me, today marked some interesting milestones. Not only was I up and out of bed well before lunch time today despite not having slept well at all, I was on the road, as planned just after lunch time for a relaxed drive up to Dayton. I wanted to get there a little early and try and get us a table, figuring that Applebees might be doing a brisk Sunday afternoon. I did get there before Laura and managed to snag a table so we didn't have the siting around waiting thing going on. We wound up spending several hours over lunch catching up, and covering some of the kinds of things in terms of details that neither have use have really gone into on our blogs. It was all at once cool, and at the same time sobering, and well left me in parts angry, hurt and fighting tears. Because I'm sorry, NO ONE of any species should be treated the way her abuser treated her. There is simply NO EXCUSE whatsoever. But I'm not here to talk about that, I'll cover some of that on the other side.

It was, despite some of the horrific portions of both our stories, awesome seeing her and getting to break bread as the saying goes. And in the daytime no less!

After we said our goodbyes, I took a nice, longish drive home. In fact drove past my house and into Kentucy before swinging back up and home. I did this so that now as Jumper One is in great health and has four new tires, I wanted to see what kind of gas mileage I'd get in mixed terrain. On the flats through Eastern Colorado and Kansas, I get upwards of 50 MPG, going up hills and such the load is different and that's going to impact fuel economy. I'm pleased to report however I'm getting 33mpg on the highway in hilly terrain. You know, from a ten year old car, that's pretty awesome! And it's better than the factor specs for this car when it was brand new. You know, I kinda like that. So it was an awesome day for me. I'm exhausted, and hopefully I'll sleep really well tonight, but it's a good kind of exhausted.

This is me . . .

. . . not sleeping again. Or is that still? I'm supposed to be getting up at a reasonable hour top have lunch with Laura a bit later one, but so far I've not slept so well. This is annoying! So I have some Xanax in my now and that should get me back to sleep long enough to wake up at a reasonable hour. At least that is my great hope!

Good night America and all my wonderful friends and family, where ever you are.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I did not buy . . .

. . . a perfect purple, 18 speed bike today. I was tempted, very seriously tempted. It was the perfect shade of purple. 26 inch wheels, quick release seat, front suspension and derailers I'd never even heard of. Now, admittedly that doesn't say much, since it's been years, decades even since I've done any serious bike riding. But it was PURPLE! I even have the money to afford it right now, but I didn't go in there to buy a bike. Plus I'm honestly not certain I'd make the commitment to riding it right now that it would require. And I'm still saving to get my stuff out of storage, and right now that's way more important. I went in to buy a freestanding fan for the living room, knowing as I do that WILL reduce my energy bill, and be quieter than the air conditioner. So, armed with fan, and my wallet a few dollars lighter, I came home to babble a bit here.

In the interests of trying to imporve my sleep schedule, and the fact that I have to be up and out of here on the early side tomorrow to meet with Laura in Dayton, I got up and out of here early today. First time in a while to be honest. Filled up Jo with petrol, made it to Bruggers for some bagels well before they closed, and of course bought a fan. I'd love to say I made it to the park for a walk, but that would be lying, and I'm not one for doing that. so the park, will have to wait for another day.

The fan however is working famously, just sitting in the background nice and quiet, moving the air around. Awesome!

So while I was out and about, I noticed Fall in the air. There's that feeling, a scent that I so adore, and my creative juices are starting to flow. I have about half a dozen plants that need new pots and I was looking at those trying to decide what I wanted to do. Yes, I it turns out have a green thumb, and have a house full of plants. Growing, thriving, happy and very green. I almost bought another one today, I was so tempted to get a nice hanging fern for the hook I have in the ceiling, but held off until I repot the ones I have, because I don't want them to feel jealous, or less loved. Which is quite honestly the ONLY reason I've not yet gotten the couple of Ficus trees I want for my house. Eventually I'm probably going to have three to five ficus trees, because I want at least one in my bedroom and I'm thinking of four in total for the rest of the apartment. At least two in the living room, maybe more.

So that's about it in my boring, quiet life. The vast majority of my friends and family are healthy, happy and safe, more than that a girl can't ask for.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sometimes, life is just weird . . .

As I'm heading over to the store to pick up a few things I notice the brake light is on, again. So when I get to the store I pop the hood, grab some break fluid out of the trunk, and top it off. One of the guys loading his groceries into the car comes over as I pop the hood and ask if I needed help. I thanked him but said I had it. So much to his wondering eyes' I not only topped off the brake fluid, but buttoned her up and then activated the self adjuster. Which is to say I backed the car up a bit, stopped, and then pulled back into the spot. He's still standing there as I get out and throw my purse over my shoulder. "I smiled and said you look confused? Did I do something wrong?"

"Well, no Ma'am, but I'm wondering why you backed the car up and pulled it forward like that?"

So explained the pedal was low because it's losing a little fluid and after refilling the reservoir I had to bring the pedal back up. The self adjusters are there for exactly that purpose.

"Forgive me, but did your Dad want a boy? And if you know so much about brakes why not have it fixed? Then it won't leak you know. You might have a bad cylinder and that could be dangerous."

So I explained that the cylinders were fine, it was the master distribution junction on the firewall and I was too lazy to replace it, especially since I was waiting for the part to come and I'd do it when I did the front shoe which where just about ready to be replaced. His next question was one I wasn't ready for . . .

"Are you seeing anyone?"

. . .because I'm not used to being hit on in the parking lot of the grocery store.

We chatted for a bit and I thanked him, but building a relationship on my knowledge of cars probably wasn't ideal. He laughed and said "No but the bragging rights alone would be awesome!"

So then, as if that wasn't weird enough, I get pulled over shortly after I leave Krogers. Why? Because the cop wanted to know why I went out the side entrance instead of the main one. I wish I was kidding. So there I am freaking because I couldn't imagine what'd I'd done wrong, and he wanted to know why I didn't go out the main entrance? I'd already given him my paperwork which he glanced at and then handed back so I said "Are you a real cop? Or is this some kind of candid camera thing, or am I in even more trouble than I think?"

[We've been having trouble around here with people pretending to be cops, pulling women over and raping and robbing them. I wish I was joking.]

So he puts his hands where I can see them and says, no ma'am, it's okay, I am a real cop, and your not in trouble.

So cautiously I say "Then if you don't mind me asking, why did you stop me?"

"First Ma'am I'd like to know why you went out the side entrance when you had to drive past the main entrance to get there?"

"Well because the side entrance takes me to a side street, which is then has a light to let me cross all three lanes of traffic to set up for the turn at the next corner. Frankly I consider it safer than taking the left fast and crossing those three lanes in the space permitted. A controlled intersection is always a safer bet and helps avoid accidents. It helps keep my insurance rates low, and it means less work for you guys."

So he's laughing now and when I finished he said "Thank you for making my whole day. My whole shift I've been watching people do the dumbest things, and then having to write them tickets. So I thought I'd pull you over and earn some good will for the department by NO giving you a ticket. Now I can finish my shift and chalk it up to a good day. Thanks, and keep up the good work."

It's officially one of the strangest traffic stops I've ever heard of, but hey, it's right up there with a warning for not doing 90 on the highway.

A rebound life . . .

Over on "A Mile In Her Shoes."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

An official shout out to my sister Sara . . .

No, not the one in Colorado, the other one, in California who's been really quiet of late. I just saw that she commented on a mutual friends blog, so I know she's still out there somewhere. This is just an I miss you and hope you're okay. There's a widget down the page is you want to send a private email . . . hint, hint, hint . . . Or Véronique has my email address if you want to get it from her.

Wow, I feel like I'm in a Newhart skit. "This is my sister Sara, and my other sister Sara." Well hey, I think it's awesome, one can never have to many sisters I say!

Hugs girl!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The things that run through my head while . . .

. . .fixing lunch. "Fixing" leads to Decious which I immediately realize is wrong because that's the name of the Romulan War Bird Admiral Picard and Ambassador Tomolak show up in during one episode of ST:TNG. So my mind goes looking for the right word I was looking for, that also happens to be of Latin derivation, which is the name of Shane Falco's boat in "The Replacements:" "Fixious" which means "in the fight." Having made my sandwhich and not wanting to stand at the counter to eat it, the thought "Ego indeo navo locus" prompts me to move into the dinning room to eat. "Ego indeo navo locus" is very old latin for I need a new location. And makes me think of my crazy sister-in-law yelling at Daniel Jackson from SG-1 for having to look-up Locus because it's so obvious in the episode "Fifth Race" that Jack means location. Eating lunch alone? Hardly, after all I've got Riker, Picard, Tomolok, Daniel Jackson, Jack O'Neill, Teal'c and my SIL with me. So much for a quiet lunch alone. . .

Friday, August 07, 2009

Two Moms . . .

Well it's being interesting as always, and last night was no different. As I think I've mentioned before I've sortta been adopted by/adopted a 13 year old girl who needs a Mom. My sister-in-law and I have been kinda doing the whole co-parenting thing for the last year, but it's not like I set my own benchmarks for personal success around being a sucessful Mom.

Mind you since I was 8, well younger even than that really, I've always wanted to grow up to be a wife and Mother like my Mom was. The wife part, well we KNOW how well that worked. Given that "failure" in my life, I'd pretty much written off ever being a Mom. So last night after my daughter went off to bed my sister-in-law and I were talking. I expressed my concerns about not having accomplished as much as I'd have liked to in the last year and she just kinda looked at me and said, "You've accomplished more than you give yourself credit for! That little girl that just left, she worships you, and you may not exactly realize it, but she's still here today because of you. You are an amazing Mom!"

Wow, that caught me off guard. And She's right. My daughter has had a life in many ways everybit as outrageous and unbelievable as mine has ever been. Her own biological Mom died, in jail, when she was six. Her Dad is a nice guy, but he's got his own major issues, and my girl has been more rasiing him, than him raising her. So when it comes to any real parents so to speak, she's never had any until last year when my sister-in-law and I stepped up to the plate. We've been doing in many ways, the good Mom, "bad" Mom thing for a while. She's a whole lot more strict and good about setting boundaries while being nurtuing and supportive, and I, well I try to get my little one to think outside the box, helping her find the value in boundaries of working with people while nurturing and supporting her as well.

When I stopped to think about it, I realized, okay, yes, I can see Val's point. I've acomplished way more than I thought. I can also see how having two Moms isn't the horror so many people think it to be. Frankly it's kinda cool if you ask me. Wow, it also dawned on me that if Earl and I had started a family right away, and we'd had a daughter first like I wanted, she'd be about 13 now too. Funny how our dreams can come sneaking up behind us while we think we are losing them forever, just waiting patiently for us to notice them. Wow, I'm a Mom?!?!! I can handle this, I can cope, I can do this! Ironically it's one thing I'm really good at doing instinctually. Plus my Mom was an excellent example and I learned how to be a Mom from her.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This just in . . .

I hate to be a naysayer in a herd full of Armageddon worshiping sociopaths (Right wingers and nut jobs all) but the 2012 catastrophe that so many folks are obsessed with isn't coming. Actually it's been canceled do to lack of interest. So California is NOT going to fall off into the ocean, it will not be the end of life as we know it. It's that simple. No get out of decades worth of self indulent stupidity free card is coming, and God is most certainly NOT going to come and life us all up as what's left of this once beautiful world burns.

It's not going to happen. So just get over it, and move on.

What IS going to happen is a new age. Where priorities will shift, responsibility will become a form of currency, and mindless, deceptive, lying politicians will need to figure out something else to do. They will haver to earn an honest living. Children, the future, and real forward thinking growth based on sustainability and renewal will become the status quo, and religion? It will become the red headed step child of humanity. People will be valued, tresured, and appreciated for the rich, diverse, lovely beings we all are. Love will be based on a novel new concept, unconditionally loving someone. I know, I know, you're all saying it will never work. Ha! Says you! It is already working, in the future, you just haven't gotten there yet. But that's okay, we love you anyway.

Life as we know it isn't going to go out in a bang, with hellfire and brimstone flowing freely. Nope, that's been canceled cause to many folks have twisted and perverted it into something horrible, wicked and irresponsible. Instead, you have to be nice to people you don't know, spread a smile now and then, lift your neighboor up and say how you doing today?

Family will be about bonds of love, not sex, gender, bloodlines, or who gets who or what.

So, please put your seatbelts on, your tray tables in the upright and locked position and prepare for take off. This plane is on schedule to LEAVE the twilight zone. Welcome to a brave new world!

This is Cassandra speaking for "Forward Views," all the news of tomorrow, today!