Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WALMART AND PUBIC STYLES

First, I'm very, very sorry I went to Walmart yesterday.  It was a moment of weakness which prompted me to add $10.12 to the considerable coffers of the Walton family when, yes, there were other store choices relatively near by.  It was a moment of weakness for convenience and curiosity.

I was parked about 100 yards from the big new Walmart Super Store while (speaking of greedy little fists)  I stopped into the Verizon store to check out the rebate offer on my "old" (2 years) I-Phone if I got the new I-Phone 6.  (Decent offer, but I can't get a new phone until December when my current contract runs out with Verizon, or pay a huge penalty, and don't worry, he said, the "6" is on back order anyway and you wouldn't get it until November….  Sheesh.)

So, when I left Verizon, shopping list in hand, I realized I could get all the items I needed right over there at that new Walmart.  Plus, I'd see if it had the ugly, crowded, poorly lit decor of the others I'd ever been to, or whether it was an upscale version that actually felt welcoming and attractive while it exploited its employees and foisted cheap merchandize manufactured by children in Third World countries into the waiting plastic shopping bags of True-Blue Americans.

I needed to buy a pillbox, one of the twice a day 7-day plastic things that had trays large enough to hold all the supplements my Grain Brain book said I should be taking to ensure health and happiness well into the next decades of my life.   I am a terrible pill-taker.  Hub, the doctor, calls me "non-compliant."  I just hate taking pills and I always forget completely or I take them and then forget if I did or I didn't so I don't in fear of overdosing, which means I skip lots of doses…it's an ongoing struggle. So I thought I needed this container.   Also I wanted a funny birthday card for Son-One, and a can of "lady" shave cream.

It was this last that gave me pause.  I realize the pink-topped "lady shave" is likely the exact same shaving cream in the black containers sold to men.  But I just feel more feminine using the shaving cream from a pink can, which is a new-ish thing for me and one that I'm sort of exploring with bemusement.

I sometimes think I just don't know how to be a girl.  I don't know "girl stuff".  I mostly just used bath soap for most of my life when I shaved.  (Did you catch that?  "when I shaved"?  I am blessed with fair skin and fairer body hair -- you can barely see it!  Why bother, I wondered.)  Plus, my feminist ire was raised back in the early 70's which gave me a socio-political reason to feel a sense of relief about being inadequate in the "girl stuff" categories of make up, hair (both body and head), and undergarments.    So at the ripe old age of (almost) 64, I realize I am suffering from arrested development of all things "girl".

I still don't do mani-pedis or color my hair or fix it in any ways that require braids or pins or updos.

I missed the entire debate about current trends in pubic hair.  I know that Brazilian waxes were all the rage for awhile (leaving one shiny and bare -- like a newborn babe! -- but all I could imagine was the pain of getting there.)   Just to check in with the current thinking, just now (with some trepidation) I Googled "pubic hair styles" and found dozens of websites that were NOT pornographic, but highly educational.  Here's one:  http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/style/470716/Pubic-hair-trends-2014-The-full-waxed-look-is-out-the-bush-is-back  Take that to the stylist next time you go in.

I have found that my remedial education in catching up with the girly arts has had some surprising results.   I LIKE smoothly shaved legs and the thick, aromatic creams I use to get them.  I LIKE a really nicely fitted bra, to give "the girls" a boost now that they seem to want to move south.  I LIKE a hairdo that is both easy to care for and attractive.  I LIKE the Clinique counter at Macy's where I buy the 4 items of make up I wear most days (base, blush, brown shadow and mascara), from kindly women in white lab coats (it's SCIENCE!)   I like being a girl, exploring the feminine arts of body care.

I also like earning a living wage, speaking my mind, being treated with respect, having equal access to any and all educational, professional, social, and political avenues open to men.  I guess shave cream and feminism don't have to be mutually exclusive.

I just wish the Lady Waltons would put a bit of the old feminine decorative arts to work in their stores.  The new one is just as soul deadening as the rest.  They might also grab some feminist gusto and insist on  providing better pay and working conditions for their employees and look into the labor practices of the countries from which they import their cheap stuff.  Just sayin'.

At least, that's the view from here… ©

Monday, September 22, 2014

BACK FROM THE BRINK

Well, the morning started with rain which was just fine by me.  No amount of dark cloud cover could be any darker than the mood I've been in since….well, since…

Do you ever get depressed?  Most feel "blue" on occasion, or as my mom used to say, "I'm sorta down in the dumps today."  Me?  Oh, I get full-on depressed.  Depressed like nothing matters.  Depressed like I despise myself and my life.  Depressed like it will never, ever end.  Depressed like I'd just be doing everyone a favor by not being here.  Depressed like being exhausted and so sick of myself and my moods that I just want someone to take charge of everything and admit me to one of those good kind of psych wards where there is soft light,  fresh flowers, and a kindly older woman in sensible shoes paid to listen to my woes and hand me tissues.

And that last part is what saves me and reminds me this is a temporary state. I don't get so depressed that I don't still crave creature comforts, someone to care about me, and some sense of beauty in my surroundings.

It doesn't make sense to me how this black cloud descends, then lifts for a bit, then comes rolling in again and again and again over a period of days or weeks or months, until one morning (today) I wake up and feel alive and happy and funny and free again.

This has been a pattern of mine for as long as I can recall.  I always think it's recent and due to some external circumstance until I trace back and back and back and see it play out over and over in my adult life.  (Perhaps born of the anxieties I can trace back into childhood?)  Sometimes it does seem to come from nowhere, but sometimes I do see how a specific event (my accident, recently) or allowing myself to become depleted by a ''go and do" schedule of commitments and concerns (over the past year, yep.)

I try to comfort myself by saying everyone is a little crazy, right?  We all have our neuroses, our struggles, our private doomsday scenarios.  But I just know my own and know that every time I am in it, it sucks, and when I come out I sort of forget about the lessons that were there to learn and go back to thinking, "Well.  That was weird.  I'm sure that will never happen again.  I feel great!"

You may be sitting around now, coffee cup in hand, ready with an armchair diagnosis.  Bipolar comes to mind.  But those with degrees have already been there and declared this one a no-go.  I just have the old run of the mill feeling like crap depression with none of the invincible, erratic, impulsive manic episodes.  I'm either super sad or super normal.

Thankfully, my toolbox is now chock full of hammers and chisels and wrenches that I take to the job of "dealing with my depression."  I can "fix" it in much shorter order than in the days of overwhelm and hopelessness and total fear and loathing.  (That took meds and counseling, for which I was most grateful, believe me.)  Now, med-free, I have lots of "counselors", chief among them Hub and a few close friends, who see me through.  I have meditation and Yoga and the strength to say "no" to outside commitments for the time it takes for me to just move through the morass of darkness, knowing there is light ahead.

So, thanks to all who have allowed me space, wiped my tears, and offered gentle encouragements over the past three weeks.  And for those who didn't even notice…it's one of my best traits.  I can get through most normal, everyday social exchanges now without faltering, even in my depression.  You helped too, by treating me normally and allowing me to access the healthier part of me, even when I was sad on the inside.

My hugest gratitude goes to Hub, who sees and understands and supports me in my collapse in the privacy of our own lives.  He is my rock.  My love.  My life partner.  I don't know what he gets out of loving an occasionally morose woman who can't even cook (even on my best days), but I'm glad it's keeping him around.

At least, that's the view from here… ©

Sunday, September 14, 2014

TWO NEAR MISSES AND A COUPLE OF FULL-ON FAILS

No, this post is not another one about my accident….well, unless you call my supreme lack of sophistication a train wreck of sorts.

Looking for things to laugh about lately, I really have to go no further than memories of social fails I've committed that really stand out (from those that are merely daily doofus moments).

1.  When we first moved to our city when my husband was starting his career we were fortunate to find a lovely old home in a lovely old neighborhood with a killer view and full of professional families rather well known in these parts.  We sort of felt like pretenders, coming from much more modest beginnings (oh, the stories I could tell about that….someday, maybe), but we were "movin' on up" and I, at least, was determined to fit in.  So when I was invited to have tea with some of the neighbor ladies, I accepted, with gratitude and some anxiety.  What would I talk with them about???

Well, all went pretty well.  I held my own with these women who were of my mother's generation and listened to stories of soirees and trips and private schools and clubs…  not anything of my experience, but I watched a lot of soap opera TV, so I knew how to say a few of the right things to keep them talking and let myself off the hook.  When the tea ended and goodbyes were being exchanged, I turned to say one last goodbye to my three hostesses and out of my mouth came,  "Wow, thanks, you guys!"  You guys????  These pillars of community with their perfectly coiffed gray hair, dress-up clothes on a Tuesday afternoon, and a silver tea service?!?  You guys???  Fail.

2.  Hub's career afforded us the opportunity to travel a bit and stay in fancy-schmancy resorts.  I loved it after I got over being intimidated.  I'd learned to do a better job of being appropriate in what I still thought of as "grown-up" situations, so I was rarely thrown off my game.  I also learned that me just being me gave others permission to let down the pretension guard as well, and usually that's when the real conversations began.

But during a stay at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Honolulu I nearly blew it big time!  I was sitting poolside, lost in my novel and feeling fat and white amidst the beautiful people, when a muscular "pool steward" approached me with a bottle of Evian water.  I had not been paying attention to his ministrations prior to stopping at my lounge chair.  He kneeled to make eye contact with me and held up his bottle with a funny nozzle thing on top and asked if I'd like a "spritz".  I was puzzled, not understanding, and THANK YOU GOD, I smiled and declined, thinking in my head, "How weird…is he going around shooting that water into everyone's mouth?"  I even saw in my mind's eye me sitting there with my mouth agape choking on the spray of water hitting my tonsils.  But no.  He moved on and I soon saw that "a spritz" meant a light spray of cooling Evian over one's face and neck.  WHAT THE HELL?  WHO DOES THAT?!?  I'm still thankful I didn't say yes and show him an open mouth waiting for a drink of water.  Near miss.

3.  Hub had a friend years ago who was a vintner.  He had his own winery, his own label, his own tasting room.  On a trip south one year we stopped in to say hi and sample some of his better wines.  It was a beautiful afternoon, sunny and hot, with a view over the valley to die for.  He greeted us in the tasting room and commenced to pour for us.  I wasn't too sure of the protocol, but I knew one didn't just guzzle the small samples down and you didn't even have to finish the glass if you didn't like it (sort of unheard of in my earlier circles -- who didn't like a wine…any wine?)  He left the room at one point and others were involved in conversation.  My glass was empty and I thought, well, I think I'd like a bit more.  So I reached for what I thought was a lovely ceramic decanter and poured from it into my glass.  Now there was a wine I definitely DID NOT like!  What could that be, I wondered?  Soon he came back, picked up the very decanter I'd poured from and took it to the sink and poured it out.  OMYGOD!  I'd just drunk the dregs of everyone's discarded wine samples!  Fail.

4.  I wish I could tell you that in the years since these incidents, all a very long time ago, I'd upped my sophistication level by several degrees, but I guess not.  On our recent cruise (like a month ago recent) we had dinner in a very fancy on-board restaurant where the servers equaled the number of diners at any give table.  There was a lot of attentiveness to our every need, napkins unfurled and placed in our laps, dishes disappearing with the last bite taken, clean silverware and napkins replaced if ever one left the table to visit the restroom, etc.  But I was still surprised when at the beginning of our entree course multiple waiters approached our table to place our covered dishes in front of each of us.  Then, in a choreographed move, they all reached out to….

Well, at our house before meals we all join hands and go around the table saying something we are thankful for.  Those hands reaching out next to me triggered an automatic assumption that I should take their hands.  I thought maybe there was a similar ritual about to unfold.  I felt my arms begin to rise from my lap when their hands reached toward our dishes and with a flourish the plate covers were removed to reveal our immaculately and creatively presented meals.  THANK GOD AGAIN I didn't interrupt their little show by grabbing a server's hand mid-flourish.  Near miss.

You just can't take me anywhere.

At least, that's the view from here… ©

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NOT FUNNY

"I ran into an old friend the other day….literally!"  ("Ba-Boom"-- rim-shot sound).

Nope, too soon.  Not funny yet.  Probably not funny ever.

I was in a car accident a week ago today.   One minute I was driving on a familiar city street a couple miles from my house, looking for the laundromat I knew was around that stretch of road somewhere. Our washer had broken down and I had about two weeks worth of laundry in my trunk.  I spied the laundromat on my left, just one building in on the cross street.  I must have started my turn….

Then I felt the impact, heard the metal-on-metal crash, felt my car spinning in the street and landing 180 degrees in the opposite direction, airbag deflating in front of me emitting the powdery propellent that in my dazed state I assumed might be smoke which might mean fire which might mean my car would explode.  This thought was formed in slow motion, as I pondered so amazingly calmly, "Maybe I should get out of the car"…but my body sat perfectly still sort of mulling over this suggestion.  I reached in slow motion for my cell phone and tried to push the numbers to call 911, but I noticed my hand was shaking and I couldn't put my fingers on the right numbers.  Then I heard someone screaming behind me and noticed people rushing from houses and businesses and soon a woman standing next to my window asking me to open my door.

I did.  And this calm presence, a woman I now call Angel Sarah, took charge.  She assured me 911 had been called.  She took my phone and called my husband, called my insurance company, and never left my side, reassuring me and telling me the other car's driver and passenger were OK, letting me know everything was fine, fine, fine.

But I didn't feel so fine.  I was stunned, but aware.  Time seemed to have slowed down, but I was oriented, answered all the questions appropriately.  I had bumped my head on something, but not badly.  My chest was sore and raw from the seat belt and airbag which had done their jobs.  I was told an airbag hitting the body is like being punched.  It felt like it.

Hub showed up and took charge of the tow truck decisions and the hospital decision (we decided against -- he would monitor me at home).  He cleaned out my car thinking it might have been totaled and I'd never see my precious Prius again.  He also talked to the investigating officer, who said no tickets needed to be issued; it was simply an accident.  I didn't see the oncoming little VW bug in the rain; maybe he was in my blind spot; maybe he had just pulled out from the curb….lots of "maybes" still hanging out there a week later and the insurance companies are figuring it all out.

My body is mostly recovered, I think.  Still a sore chest and bruising there and a little back tweak now and then.

My heart is slower to recover.  I want that split second back, that moment of not seeing his car.   Then there was the shock of looking at the driver information and realizing I knew the driver of the VW -- he is a childhood friend of Son-One.  He is the little boy I met when his mom and I stood in line on the first day of Kindergarten, weepy and happy, and started a friendship that would last all the way through middle school, and while not as close, still with fondness and caring, through high school.  But I've not seen him or his mom in 10 years.  Still….

I had to reach out to him, so the next day I did.  His compassion for me was equal to mine for him and our brief exchange was healing.

Yet, I am still reliving the moment.  The shock of the impact, the sound of the crash, the surreal aftermath of a sudden jolt from the mundane to the extraordinary.  I have spent a week in deep sadness, lots of tears, roaring anxieties, some moments of calm and grace, a lot of introspection and newfound compassion for anyone who experiences trauma of any kind.

I also notice I feel embarrassed, even ashamed, about my part in this accident.  I am truly fuzzy on the details even yet, but I know I was turning left and he would have had the right of way.  If there is "fault" to be laid, it has to be at my feet, right?  It's hard to get past this.

I have been driving for 47 years.  I can remember only three traffic tickets - running a yellow light; going 40 in a 30 MPH zone; turning up a street in my neighborhood closed to turning traffic between 7 a.m. - 9a.m.  I've been in three traffic accidents -- one going so slowly in a parking lot that no damage was done, one consisting of hitting a pole in a parking lot, and this one.  I'm a safe and cautious driver.

But now I don't trust myself.  Every other car looks like a missile to be avoided.  I'm jumpy and tense. Hub has been doing "ride-a-longs" with me in our rental car and I am getting better.  Yesterday we drove back to that laundromat, taking the same route.  I felt pretty calm and actually curious about what could possibly have happened.  At the intersection we noticed there is a huge blind spot where a car could get lost and I was grateful, again, that my rate of speed on impact was likely about 10 MPH as I slowed to turn.

But ultimately none of that matters.  It matters that it happened.  It matters that thankfully no one was seriously injured.  It matters that I have some work to do now to regain my confidence, to feel the same compassion for myself that I would offer to others in my situation, to look at what I can learn about myself, about life, about grace.

At least, that's the view from here… ©