Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I forgot, and then remembered

It was a beautiful day. I was in my car, driving my usual back route towards the "city" where I do most of my outside-of-the-home things. There's a place where there's two stop signs right in a row, and people tend to get confused by them, waiting too long, cutting someone off by accident, or just plain ignoring them.

I was slowly passing the second stop sign when I realized that the person in the car behind me was honking their horn repeatedly. They were obviously trying to get my attention, for if I had just cut them off, I would have probably gotten one loud honk. But no, the horn kept sounding. I didn't think I had cut anyone off, so I thought perhaps my muffler had fallen off or I had a flat tire, and that person behind me was trying to warn me. So, I slowed to a crawl, rolled down my window and turned my head to look.

There was a car with five passengers. Four of them had their arms extended out the window. All of them were giving me the finger. I could see that the person in the middle of the back seat was giving me the finger, too. Then, they sped up. "Obama sucks!" one yelled. Okay, that wasn't too bad as hate language goes, but the sight of a car full of people giving me the finger was alarming. Then the car sped up. As it passed me, still with arms extended, one person yelled out, "Go back to where you came from, nigger lover!" No one was laughing. They drove away, arms still extended with middle fingers pointing in all directions.

I believe they said more than I recall. The truth is, I had forgotten this even happened. It's hard to believe, for it happened at 1:30 this afternoon, not two or three weeks ago. I was shaken up. I drove in my car thinking, "Is it still safe to live here in the countryside?" Did these people know me? It's certainly possible. I was only ten minutes from my house.

I told Dick that this happened less than an hour ago, for I really had erased it from my mind. I went about the business of the day as if nothing happened. It's sort of funny, but I seemed more bothered by my last encounter with another human being before I got home. A cashier gave me a special coupon for people who were 60+ years of age. "I don't think I'm ready for this", I said, and gave it back. She looked perplexed and gave me a cheery "have a nice day!" I had to grumble, "I don't know if I can after that." More puzzlement on her part. Away I went, wondering if I did indeed look that old.

Looking back on the day, I am embarassed to think I was more shaken up by being mistaken for a youngish senior citizen than being the victim of what I believe may be a hate crime. The truth is, I was far more shaken by being given the finger from a car of angry locals. That was serious. So serious, in fact, that I needed to block it out. I had truly forgotten it happened by the time I got to my destination.

In a way, I wish it had happened even closer to home. If it had happened at my local general store I could have a talk with the owner. He hates Obama, too, and knows I support him because I had a lawn sign and a bumper sticker. We never talk politics. No, I'll amend that. He talks politics. I stay quiet. He doesn't understand how a "nice person like me" can be a foolish liberal. I keep quiet, or laugh quietly. Maybe it's time to speak up. Even though this didn't happen in my local store's parking lot, it could have. And perhaps telling my friend, for he is a friend of sorts, that the hate talk in the general stores is getting ugly and dangerous would be a good thing. Of course it's a good thing.

Hatred spreads in darkness and quiet. It can't stand the light of day. Nor can it stand the truth. The Quaker expression "speak truth to power", though I've always found it grammatically odd, is apt. By keeping my mouth shut and being polite, I'm allowing hatred to breed and grow. It's time for that to stop.

I suppose I could go back to the ghetto of New York City (if I could afford it) where everyone I know has the same opinions, and then I wouldn't have to worry about this stuff. But, I live here now. And the plain fact is that Obama won the election here, and won it handily. These folks who are throwing tea parties, talking trash at the general stores, and giving folks with Obama bumper stickers the finger and hurling racial epithets, well, did they even vote? I think most of them did not. Not that it matters, but still. . .

I will start talking. I'm a bit afraid, but I will. I promise. It's much more important than going on about Ikea's bad mattresses, don't you think? I do.

Photo note: What should I expect from a state where this is the iconic General Store sign?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Is it karma?

As I prepare to sleep on the sofa this evening, it occurs to me that maybe I'm being punished for years of kvetching about the little things.As Dick tucked himself into "bed", I laughingly punched the top of it. He had to laugh, 'cause even though I punched with nearly all my might, I could not make a dent in that mattress . "Punch it", I said. He didn't want to. "C'mon. Just do it." He punched, but not too hard (for I doubt he believed I hit it all that hard). Surely enough, that thing did not budge.

Earlier today, Dick sent me an e-mail with a link to someone else's blog, who is going through the same thing with an Ikea mattress. The subject line of his e-mail? "Ikea has to make this right." Well, somehow I don't think that is going to happen. If I knew how to launch an anti-Ikea viral campaign online, I would make it happen, but I don't, and so it won't.

I've got so much to do, and yet this is taking up a large amount of mental energy. Ikea, if I were someone else, I'd be thinking of lawsuits that include money for mental anguish. Wait. I am thinking of lawsuits that include money for mental anguish. Uh oh.

It's really all so absurd. Once, I complained about a thirty dollar bra right here on this blog, and the head of Maidenform did everything in his power to make things right. Thank you, Mr. Maidenform (and excuse me for forgetting your name). Now, that is great customer service. Over the top, perhaps. But, it made me feel that there were some decent people at corporations. Whether the "problem" was solved didn't matter after I received such caring attention. Three different people at Maidenform went through some trouble to see to it that I got a proper fitting bra.

But now I think I'm getting payback for moaning about ill fitting underwear.

I forgot about the whole thing for three whole hours today while I worked at the yarn shop. It was bizarrely hot out (92 degrees on an April day in Maine?!), but the shop was lovely and cool. I expected it to be packed, but it was fairly quiet. Every time I'm there, I am transported from whatever sour, sad, or bad mood I'm in. There is something about knitters, and fiber, that is just so wonderful. Whether it's helping a woman learn how to knit a sock or talking to an expert knitter while she knits one, I always enjoy the company. When I figure out just what makes knitters such lovely people, I'll get back to you. Right now I'm flat out of the capacity to analyze anything, and besides, I've got to make up the sofa. It's time for bed sleep.

Image note: For more information on how to construct a bed of nails, go here. You'll even learn the physics of the thing. It's supposedly pretty comfortable. Hmm. Maybe that's what I should be sleeping on. It'd help with the feeling I have that I'm due some karmic payback, especially if I sleep on my side.

Shame on you, Ikea!

No pics for this post. After looking at the governmental website about how to lodge complaints with or about companies, and discovering that Ikea does a great job of keeping the consumer from finding out where their upper management people are exactly, I have no choice but trying to blanket the Web with my complaints about the horrible mattress we purchased. Twitter will be filled with my boring tweets about Ikea's non-existent customer service and the bad night's sleep (or lack of it) I'm getting. I keep thinking about how lovely the bed was I laid down on in their Stoughton, Massachusetts store. Oh, how I longed to get home and snuggle up in it! The joke is on me. I'd be just as comfortable on the floor with a yoga pad purchased at some dollar store. Ikea, shame on you!

Monday, April 27, 2009

I don't want to be known only for kvetching (the submarine post)

One unexpected pleasure of my vacation was a visit to a submarine. Dick and I spent a night in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and after a quick drive through the city, packed with tourists on such a fine day, we just had to get away. He said, "Let's go see a submarine." Now, I figured he meant that there was a submarine in port somewhere. It is Portsmouth, after all.

But I was wrong. There's a museum all about (and containing) the U.S.S. Albacore, once the Navy's test submarine, pictured above, at its launch in 1953.

When we arrived, all I saw was the not-so-big black hull of the old submarine. It looked so low-tech. But it was interesting, for I immediately saw its resemblance to the backs of the whales we had seen the previous day when we were out on the ocean. Even though this particular submarine is named after a tuna, I'm guessing that the first person who dreamed up the idea of a submarine was indeed thinking of whales. They dive, as submarines do, and can stay submerged for a long time. Here, I'm writing about a subject that I know absolutely nothing of, so if you want to know more, click on the word museum above.

I know just about as much about whales, come to think of it. But what's even more amazing to me is the lack of knowledge that exists about whales. No one knows what the average life span of a whale is! Nor do they know where whales give birth to their calves. The lack of knowledge about whales is very surprising to me. The ocean, it seems, holds more mystery than the vastness of space. Just why that is so is something else that I'm ignorant of, but I'm very curious about just why there is such a paltry amount of information to be gleaned.

Anyway, I came here to write about the U.S.S. Albacore, or really, just about how much I enjoyed my little hour-long journey inside of it. It was a blast. I've been to the best museums in the world, but this little miss-it-if-you-blink place was a gem. If you think you may be on the New Hampshire coast some time, give it a visit. If you're a curious person, especially one who likes to touch things, you'll love it.

The first thing one sees when entering the submarine is the bunks. I promised in an earlier post that I'd have my own pictures, and so here is one of me, comtemplating how it might feel to spend 4-5 months sleeping in one of these small bunks, surrounded by 50 fellow cooped-up naval seamen:

Being only five feet tall would be a major advantage. I was pretty comfortable. However, halfway through the submarine, we met a Navy man who was over six feet tall, and he had served on (or is it "in"?) a submarine. He said he was shorter and thinner in those days, and it had been difficult. He said he hit his head a lot, but he loved it (and I don't think he was talking about hitting his head). "The married guys were very cranky", said he, "They'd be missing their wives for the first three weeks. Then they'd be happy in the last week, thinking of being home again. Submarines ain't for married guys!" He was fascinated by the fact that this particular submarine had no weapons. "What's a submarine for?" he asked.

I can't give you details, but this submarine was built mostly to study how to build a better submarine. The weapons? They have no bearing on that, evidentally.

I felt like a kid in a candy shop. Sorry for the cliche, but it fits. I was giddy with excitement. There were so many dials and little rooms, boxes, drawers, the fabled periscope, and more cables and wires than you can possibly imagine. What I liked to imagine was how life was and what everything was for, for I really had never given submarines much thought before. I once had a neighbor, who was born in the 1910's, and he had told me that submarines were far more fascinating to him as a kid than the invention of the airplane. I found that astonishing. After my visit to the Albacore, I could see why. And then again, there's that whole mystery of the ocean thing, which now I know is quite literally true.

Small things caught my eye:

Yes, I know it's only a bunch of drawers. But what did they originally hold? It doesn't really matter, I suppose. Oddly, I've always been fascinated by little drawers. The more the merrier.

One reason why I was enjoying the Albacore so much is that there was nobody on guard. The person in charge of the museum sat in a little building a short walk away from the actual submarine. Visitors were totally free to touch and linger to their heart's content. And even though it was a small vessel, the one hour we spent inside could have been far longer. Afterwards, I'd wished I'd brought a book, one about submarine life, and sat in a bunk all day living the life of a sailor on his day off. I don't even know if they ever did get a day off, now that I think of it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

There really is a middle of nowhere

Chale, Middle of Nowhere, Shorwell, Isle of Wight, UK. Huh, I thought it would be where I live.

You can't see it on this map. Of course not! It's in the middle of nowhere. But really, it's to the left of everywhere else (um, that would be west), somewhere on the bright red line of Military Road, aka A3055.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

But what if she couldn't sing?

Of Susan Boyle, here. Thank you, Maria, for leaving that link in the comments section. It was too good to be left hiding there.

When I saw the YouTube video, I was angry as hell as I watched the audience smirk, laugh, and roll their eyes at Susan Boyle. I had no idea why I was sent this horrible link. I've seen more than enough mockery to last a lifetime.

I wish the audience had bowed their heads in shame instead of giving Ms. Boyle a standing ovation. But what I wish even more is that shows like these were now permanently eliminated from television. We've not learned one thing from being forced into seeing that Ms. Boyle is "beautiful inside."

Every single person deserves to be treated as if they were, regardless of whether they have talent or not.

The above link says this all a lot better than I can, especially as I'm trying to be terse (which I'm not good at). Go read it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I can't type but. . .

. . .there's still plenty of interesting things to read (what an understatement!) So, I'll be linking to other sites. The "tea party" phenomenon is fascinating, though I do find it disturbing. I'd love to write more. Photos from tax day here.

I've seen many bumper stickers around these parts: "Obama - the beginning of a new error."

"Talented ugly person baffles world"

Huffington Post, here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Not typing is. . .

. . . not fun. I am typing super slow and it's awful. It makes me realize that my thinking is fast. I never realized that before. Now I must stop.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm falling apart

I've been advised to give typing a break for about two weeks. If I must, I should use the "hunt and peck" technique, which is not conducive to me writing well. See? It already shows! Why? My thumbs hurt. They hurt a lot. I've got "de Quervain's tenosynovitis." No, I can't have carpal tunnel like everyone else - I must have something that sounds exotic. It is not a rare problem for typists, knitters, and people who play racquet sports, but somehow it hasn't gotten the press that good ol' carpal tunnel has. Too bad, for it's painful and could be avoided if people knew about it. Those of you with laptops - take it off the table if you're going to typing for a long time! Put it in your lap, or get yourself a separate keyboard. I just ordered one.

This was a dry entry, but it's also a preemptive apology. I will be trying not to blog for a while. I must follow doctor's order in order not to develop a permanent condition. We hope we've caught this in time!

Image note: I may have been studying medical transcription, but I've never heard of the Thenar Snuffbox until now. Have you?

Friday, April 10, 2009

There is a season. . . (a time for tears)

This evening, I was walking around without my shoes on, which my doctor told me not to do. Part of my foot is numb, and when I was standing on something that was about to make me lose my balance, I did not know it, so I fell down. I didn't hurt myself, but the fact that it happened woke me up to the seriousness of my foot problem. You'd think that the constant doctor visits, physical therapy sessions, and the introduction of orthotic shoes and compression socks would have done the trick, but it had not. Nor did the pain. I'm used to pain. No, I had to fall down.

I was truly taken by surprise. It's not like I haven't fallen down before. Of course I have. I'm rather clumsy, and I have double vision, so falling down or knocking into things is nothing new.

So, really, I'm not sure why this little fall hit me so hard. Perhaps it was because I had just watched the film "Elegy" (based on Philip Roth's novel "The Dying Animal"). The subject of aging, and sickness, and the relationship between the two, is the theme of the movie, or at least a major element. And, no, it is not an uplifting film.

But I did not come here to write about movies. As I had written about crying before, just this week, I wondered to myself, "Am I depressed and not seeing it?" The answer is "No."

In fact, I believe that it is because I am not depressed that I am crying more freely than usual. I am finally, finally, getting over my fear of crying. I used to think that if I started to cry, I would not stop. Of course, there was never a shred of evidence that this was in fact so, for I'd cried many a time, and my generally dry eyes were proof that I was laboring under a delusion. But delusions are delusions, and thus, they don't wither under the bright light of fact.

It feels good to cry when I'm sad. I've never felt that before. It makes sense to shed a tear when one's heart is heavy, or when one is afraid. Holding it in, keeping a stiff upper lip; those things lead to one's emotions leaking out all over the place, and in manners unwanted.

Unfortunately, I don't think those around me appreciate my new-found freedom. Crying is for two-year-olds and the unstable. But I've written about this before. There's no need to repeat myself.

Last week, someone I knew, but had not known long, committed suicide. Oddly, I did shed a tear for her. I have noticed that I am apt to take my time reacting to such overtly emotional events. Or, it may just be that I feel an intellectual sort of sadness, for I barely knew the woman. Still, it is a great tragedy that this person was in such hell that she had to take her life. She was not only in emotional pain, but physical pain. The last time I saw her, she asked me, in a tiny little voice, "Is it really possible to be happy and hurt at the same time?" I answered, "Yes."

I heard that the last thing she had done before she took her life was to inquire about public housing. She was turned away. I do not know why, but I'm guessing she is was probably like the many people who fall through the cracks; too functional to get help and too dysfunctional to make it without any. So, it may be that I'm more angry than sad about this event. Every few months more services for those in need are cut.

People are killing each other, and themselves. We're in hard times. That is something, indeed, to cry about.

What can we do? I am not sure. But this I am sure of - we can at least be more emotionally available to others. Some folks buy guns because they think we're headed for a real dog-eat-dog time. No. No. No! This is not the time to shut down or just look out for our own. It's time to fling open our doors and become communities once again.

Painting note: I found this image, the right panel of "Resurrection of Christ" (1520-22) by Titian, and thought it was perfect for this post, and how odd, for it is Easter on Sunday.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Looking one's age

I come from a family where everyone looked younger than their years. Both my parents were considerably older than my friends' parents, but they didn't look it. I remember my father saying how he wasn't going to buy his daily lunchtime sandwiches at a particular deli any more, for he had said something to the man who owned the place about his calling him "young man." It turned out the the fellow was considerably younger than my father, and when he learned that, he was visibly bothered. I'd had the same thing happen to me. When I was a tattooist, I always knew the age of the people I tattooed. They had to sign a release form for the State of Maine, and this had their age on it. There was many a time that I was shocked at how young someone was. In walks someone who I'd peg to be in their 60's and it turns out they are 36. I wouldn't say anything, of course, but when you're chatting with someone, cultural references can often be a dead giveaway for one's age. A silly example is the countless times I've been asked if I liked "the Brady Bunch." Well, I was just a little too old to watch the Brady Bunch. I remember the first time I saw a TV show in color! It was the Flintstones.

So, I've had the awkwardness of women acting a bit jealous, or even angry, when they discover I'm older than they are. I don't crow about how young I look, for honestly, I don't think I do look younger than my age. I see the fine lines around my mouth and the sagging skin that's under my clothing. But besides the physical cues, I'm not given to dressing like an older person. I pretty much dress the same as I've always done, minus the latex and leather that I sometimes liked to fool around with. That, well, I'm too old for that. You can argue, but maybe I've just lost interest. I have taken to wearing some markers of middle age, like shawls, but the truth is, I've always liked shawls. And now, of course, I'm wearing orthopedic shoes, but up here in Maine, they don't look that different than the shoes most people wear. This isn't the style capitol of the U.S.A., not by a long shot.

I didn't do anything to look young. As I wrote, it's just genes. In fact, I could look much younger than I do, if I had lived a cleaner life. Those fine lines around my mouth are probably from years of smoking cigarettes, for I don't remember my mother having any, even at the age of 60 (though she did smoke until she was in her late 30's). I have deep dark circles and bags under my eyes, but a person who is in constant pain usually does. Still, I have a "baby face", though weathered as it is, still gives the impression of youth. The porcelain skin that once was the one thing I loved about the way I look is now gone. I'm fine with that. I do not mind aging. I do mind looking sick and tired.

I came to blog only because there's a wonderful series of articles and a great slideshow on Newsweek's website. The slideshow is called "Youth in a Jar: A century of beauty ads that make outrageous promises." It's worth checking out just for the great old advertising alone. There's a good article entitled "Generation Diva: How our beauty obsession is changing our kids." And lastly, there's a shocking bit of information on how much the average woman, teenager, and child spends on beauty products. No, I was wrong; there's more. Former child-model, Cara Philips has a slide show in which she points the lens of a camera on the cosmetic surgery industry. I haven't looked at that yet, but I'm sure it's fascinating.

The main article, "Generation Diva", while good, leaves much to be desired. Of course, it's only Newsweek, and the kind of in-depth analysis I'm looking for is not to be found within its pages or its website. Susie Orbach, who wrote "Fat is a Feminist Issue", has just put out a new book entitled "Bodies." It's going on my must-read list right now. Here's an excerpt from a review:"Orbach delves into the touchy subject of commercial exploitation of “the body” and explores how modern culture is eroding individual appreciation of the unaltered human form."

Sounds good to me.

I think back to over twenty years ago, when a young woman I knew told me that she was still a virgin at the age of 20, much to her embarassment. She was not afraid of sex, nor was she uninterested. She was afraid that no man could stand to see the acne scars on her chest and back. I told her that no man worth having sex with would notice those scars. I told her that not only was she beautiful and interesting, but that, generally speaking, men didn't notice these "imperfections" that women were so fixated upon. Well, sadly, that was over 20 years ago. I'm afraid that times have changed much over these two decades. Photoshop and plastic surgery have ushered in the age of physical perfectionism. I wonder, is it possible to put this evil genie back in the bottle? I am not sure.

Thankfully, we are not all so shallow. Not yet.

Photo note: The beauty standard of the geisha is rigid. Yet, I am not offended. Why is that? Perhaps it is because it is meant to be artifice. For more extraordinary photographs of geisha, go here.

Addendum: After looking at photos of geisha, I realize that the other reason I am not "offended" by this version of the beauty standard is that I find the aesthetics luscious, gorgeous, and compelling. I can not say that about the American beauty standard. The supposed beauty of tan girls with big boobs, small hips, long wavy blond hair, and horsey features does nothing for me. In fact, it bores me. Please, give me strange looks! The geisha are ethereal, other-worldly. The girl next door is not.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I finally have a writing block (sort of)

I'm having trouble thinking up things I want to blog about. I've written this before, and was sent many good suggestions. But, where are they? I should spend a bit of time searching for them. I remember saying, "Great suggestion! I'll do it!" So, I will. I promise.

Lately, though, I've been feeling like a lousy writer. Don't bother to leave a comment telling me that I'm not. I know I'm not. It's just the way I'm feeling. I do believe in the aphorism "feelings aren't facts", and I'm glad I do, for it saves me a lot of grief.

Facebook, I have to admit, is eating up a lot of my blogging time. I just joined a few weeks ago, and I'm in the honeymoon period. It's been more fun that I could ever have imagined re-meeting old friends from childhood. My childhood is a time and place that I've tried to run away from, so it's wonderful to discover that I have some good memories and that the people I was friends with have grown up to be such interesting adults. The only downside to the conversations I've had with these old friends is my constantly answering "No" to any question that starts with the words "Do you remember when?"

I actually love the silliness of Facebook. Oh, I'm sure there's a serious side, but I'm not seeing it. I've been enjoying designing quizzes for friends to take. They all seem terribly narcissistic, with titles like "How well do you know me" and "How alike are we?", but I'm learning more about the people taking the tests (since I see the answers) than they do about me. It's a hoot!

If someone would give me a job writing quizzes, I'd be delighted. Hello? Anyone hear that?!

So, maybe my writing creativity is being eaten up by quiz writing. I dunno.

I do need some new perfumes to write about. But I'm afraid that no scents will compare to the ones I love dearly. But I can still live in hope. After all, one of favorites came out in 2008 (Goutal's Encens Flamboyant). But, it's a long shot that anything new and exciting will be produced. I know there's plenty of perfume geniuses out there, but how new can anything be? It might be time for me to explore Christopher Brosius' I Hate Perfume a bit more. He is the embodiment of creativity. But, I don't really like wearing his scents. I like sniffing them. "Forest Floor" is a fascinating scent, but I don't want to smell of dirt and mushrooms. Well, sometimes I do, actually, but that's the beautiful scent of having just worked in the garden.

I see that this post is getting longish, and the title says I have a writing block. I do. This is not a coherent post - it's just me rambling about what just happens to be on my mind at this moment.

Now that I am aware of that, I'm stopping. You didn't come here to read my diary. And if you happen to remember what fantastic idea you had for me, one to which I said "Great! I'll write about that ASAP!!", please remind me. I'm lazy.

Painting note: Arshile Gorky. Diary of a Seducer, 1945. Oil on canvas, 126.7 x 157.5 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.© 2007 Estate of Arshile Gorky/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

I don't care much for this painting. The reason I posted it? I googled "diary" and it came up. So, I figured I'd put up an image that I wasn't wild for, and see if anyone else likes it. Do you? If so, I'd like to know what about it moves you.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Do I have a Web addiction?

I was sitting quietly, reading a book, and enjoying it immensely. Or so I thought. My laptop is always near at hand, and I felt as if it was calling out, "Open me! C'mon, let's get on line!"

This is hyperbole, of course, but there was a pull, and it was strong. I closed my book, put it down, and as I was lifting the laptop up, I asked myself just what it was that I was thinking. I was thinking, "Remember how nice it was, a few months ago, when you didn't look at a computer for ten days" Well, those ten days were spent in the company of other people, and besides, there was no internet access. Okay, there was internet access, but I would have had to leave our hotel room and go sit in a bar by myself. What kind of resort was this, anyway? It's 2009!

I'm glad for that, really. As I said, it was nice not being online all the time. Sure, I missed it as first, but after a while I did not, and it was wonderful actually having a conversation with someone in person. If I had a thought, I didn't grab my laptop to blog about it. I either kept it to myself or had a real live chat. And the desire to look up every single factoid that I couldn't put my finger on started to recede after a few days.

Well, that was a few months ago. These days are different.

I live in the middle of nowhere. There's no public space, no walks along the avenues, and a walk along the road would bring me nothing but mud up to my knees and near-misses with trucks. There's the woods, of course, but I'm writing about being with others (though you may have thought this was about Web addiction), not my love of the outdoors. Hah, now that I think of it, I had promised my Aunt that I'd take a look at the "eagle-cam." Now, I don't need to walk outside to see anything. That's a scary thought.

There is a connection between what I'm starting to see as a case of addiction to getting on line and my isolation. Of course there is. I'm glad for the internet, very glad, but I sometimes wonder if I'd have moved far from this isolating place if I didn't have the damned Web. It's certainly possible. I have the illusion of being with others. Facebook, which I've recently joined, has provided me with chats and silly quizzes and all sorts of total nonsense that I've been enjoying. The fact that I like this stuff bothers me. What has happened to my reading, my knitting, and my meditation? Little by little, my computer life has taken over. I do my schoolwork online, most of my socializing online, and now, most of my reading online. No, the computer won't knit for me (though it could, I'm sure) and it can't go to the bathroom for me (and I hope it never does).

I put that book down because I had a desire to converse with someone, and for me, writing this blog is a conversation. I normally don't think much to myself, as odd as that sounds, so putting fingers to keyboard (as once did "putting pen to paper") gets the thoughts rolling.

Odd, how meditation has slowed my thoughts down to a crawl, or to near nothing. I often wonder if that is indeed okay, or even normal, but it's of no matter. I am happier this way. A racing mind is one that serves me no good. It's racing a bit tonight, as you can probably tell, for I'm having trouble sticking to the topic (addiction). I just want to ramble.

It's a substitute for conversation, as I have already written. This life is not good for me. It may be good for my writing, but it's good for nothing else. No, I take that back. It's good for introspection, and for facing my demons, which are mostly at bay. But, when that's over, what's left? I have come to discover I am a social creature, and living in the countryside no longer suits me. The company of others - well, I crave it.

I could go to the General Store, but ever since they put up (and took down) the Obama with Hitler mustache photograph I'm wary of entering. My neighbors are no longer home much. My friends are scattered far and wide.

Please don't mistake this for me posting about how sorry I feel for myself. It's not that. I'm just trying to unravel just why and how I've come to this, this siamese twin relationship I have with my laptop. Until tonight, I really didn't understand what was happening. And the thing of it is, I'm not going to do anything with this realization. What can I do? Up and leave?

Well, that's too big a kettle of fish to fry, or boil, or whatever one does with that cliche. And with that, I end this post, this mess of a post, and I'll probably log onto Facebook, or check my e-mail, or find someone to chat with, or, perhaps, I'll go to sleep. Last night, I stayed up until 4:00am surfing the Web. It did my health no good.

I'll stop now.

Painting note: "Luncheon of the Boating Party", Renoir, 1880-81
I find this painting a bit garish, but I could use a bit of that kind of living.

Friday, April 3, 2009


Note: This was written last night at around 10:30pm.

I just had a good cry. There was a time, not too long ago, when I wouldn't or couldn't cry and call it good. That's not to say I haven't had good cries before. I've cried for joy and gratitude, but when I've cried out of pain or sorrow, no, it was never, ever, what you would call good.

I had a long and hard day. It started with a bang, literally, when my new alarm clock woke me with the loudest alarm I've ever heard. I know I jumped off the bed. Luckily, I didn't hit the floor. I was tempted to sleep for ten more minutes, but the idea of hitting the snooze button on that thing was more than I could bare. Now, that's an alarm clock that really gets one out of bed. But, that kind of masochist I am not, so it's going back to it's place on a store shelf.

The test I had at the hospital, the one I jokingly mentioned in an earlier post, was really rather stressful. For nearly two hours, I was zapped with electricity to determine how fast nerve impulses traveled in the lower half of my body. At first, every time I was zapped, my whole body would twitch, but I finally let myself breathe into it and relax. It didn't really hurt, but it was shocking, quite literally. I told myself that nothing bad was happening, for it wasn't, and chatted with the doctor. He excused himself for thinking out loud ("It helps me process"), so I encouraged him to speak louder, since I am studying medical transcription. As it turns out, my peroneal nerve is not conducting properly. A few exams ago, I spelled the word "peroneal" wrong (perineal), which is a common mistake. I'll never make it again.

I had other things to do today, and I won't go into every detail, but by 1:30 I felt wrung out and ready to drop. I hate catch phrases, I really do, but today was a good day to listen to something I learned in a twelve-step meeting a long time ago. HALT. This means pay attention to when you're hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. I think I should change it to SHALT, because sick should be on that list, but SHALT sounds rather encouraging.

Perhaps I should make my own acronym. How about SCHRUPIP (sick, crazy, hungry, resentful, upset, pissed off, and in pain)? It's almost impossible to say and if one tries, sounds rather like pronouncing the word "stupid" with a mouth full of marbles. I think I'll keep this one.

But I did cry tonight because I was Overwhelmed, Overtired, in Pain, and Sad, which leaps to OOPS. That makes a lot of sense. If I'm all of the above, "oops" is bound to follow, as I'm likely to do or say something I'd rather wished I hadn't. I could be as simple as continuing to go, go, go, and become even more overtired (which I did do yesterday) and injuring myself 'cause I'm being sloppy. Or, more usually, I'll get angry over something tiny, and blow-up, which leads to lots of crying and hurt feelings. That, thank goodness, hasn't happened in ages. I do believe I've learned my lesson.

So, back to good cries. We're pretty much told not to cry in this society. Women who cry are overemotional. Men who cry are wusses. It's okay to cry at weddings, funerals, and while watching sappy movies. Crying for joy is sometimes okay, but if you do it frequently, you are certainly suspect. Crying in public is completely out of the question, and people who are prone to doing so tend to stay in their homes for fear of looking like crazy people.

When I spent a few months living at the Kripalu Center, there was a lot of crying going on. Emotional displays were considered normal, and it was a freeing (and eye opening) experience. There were some days that I tired of the lack of stoicism, and the constant sharing of feelings. I can be a total ass (in my head, most of the time.) I have a macho streak, and I could play with that when I was a tattooist, saying to people I knew who were having trouble with the pain, "Suck it up, you wuss!" Maybe I've got a touch of dominatrix in me. That is certainly a possibility.

A touch of machismo or domination aside, I do wish showing our emotions wasn't such a taboo in this society. If you're not bubbly and chipper if you're a woman, or steady-as-he-goes if you're a man (and you're not queer) you are in a bit of trouble. Stuffing one's feelings is pretty much mandatory. No wonder so many people have chronic health problems, and secret mental health ones.

Crying - Roy Orbison (duet with k.d. lang)

Painting note: Henry Fuseli, "Loneliness at Daybreak", 1794-96.

A few good links

This seems almost incestuous, but check out Smells Like Boi's "clumsily written love letter" to one of my favorite scents, Annick Goutal's Encens Flamboyant.

Please read this post at Now Smell This, on the impending death of perfumery.

Photo note: Lately, I've been rather taken with a bit of bling. I may even purchase a pair of eyeglass frames that have a few rhinestones on them. And, I've been wearing a gold link watch. I wonder if I should start worrying about myself.

Addendum: And don't forget, if you want a fix of pure fluff, check out my other blog, Just Looking.

The big red bounce

Every once in a while, I check Google analytics, to see how many people visit this blog. I know there's about ten people who visit regularly, and there's three or four of you who comment (thank you). But right now, I'm thinking about all the people who visit so briefly that they create what is called a "100% bounce rate." You've probably done that 100% bounce yourself, and didn't know it. It's when you land on a page you don't want to be on, or instantly dislike, and immediately navigate away. Click. Click. Bounce away!

I don't have a 100% bounce rate for the site. Of course not. Some people stay and read. Again, thank you. But for the people who wind up on this site because they have googled "why you shouldn't get a tattoo" and land here, they all leave right away. All of them.

They don't land on arbitrary pages. They land on posts about tattoos. But, they must see something they don't like. I am not exaggerating when I say that all of them leave right away. It's been consistent for as long as I've had analytics, and I find it fascinating.

I suspect it's not that they see something they don't like. It's that they don't see what they like. There is a difference.

Have you ever looked at a typical tattoo website? First of all, there's got to be skulls. Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against skulls. I have a big skull tattooed on the back of my right leg. I actually had forgotten about that when I had a test at the hospital today. The person who was putting the electrodes on my legs had a jolly good time and a bit of a scare when I flipped on to my belly. The Tibetan skull on the back of my leg is a bit frightening, at least to most people.

I didn't mean to start writing about my hospital tests or my own tattoos. But, if there was a big, scary skull on this page, maybe one of those people googling the word "tattoo" would stay for more than a split second. I wonder if there are any pictures of skulls on any of the hundreds of posts I have. I think not.

The typical tattoo site has banner ads galore, stuff that moves, and bling! Yeah, lots of red, too.

Text? Fuggetuhboutit.

And maybe some music, too.

*WARNING: The following song offended or creeped out every single person who ever listened to it in my former tattoo shop. If you listen to it, please tell me why.*

F*** Frankie - Marilyn Manson

Photo note: Marilyn Manson, with tattoos, of course. I don't know what is wrong with me. I find Marilyn Manson very attractive.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ch ch ch changes

I've eliminated the tags on my posts. I'm not going to go back and hand delete the old ones, but if you look in the sidebar, the list of tags is gone. According to Google analytics, no one was using this feature. Besides, I've had a hard time tagging my posts. If you want to find something, just use the search blog feature.

I was going to write that the first person who correctly identified the song lyrics to this post will win a prize, but I still owe one person a gift from a past "contest." Besides, doesn't everyone know where "ch ch ch changes" comes from?

This leads me to something I've been thinking about. I've been listening to more music on the radio lately. Until last month, I listened only to NPR talk radio while in the car. I've been doing a lot of driving, and have discovered that listening to loud music is good for me and keeps me alert. I wanted to hear new stuff, so I thought that the radio would be good.

Now, I don't know what other states are like, but here in Maine, rock radio seems to have an awful lot of old music on it. I am nearly astounded at how often ZZ Top, AC/DC, and Led Zeppelin are played. Where's the new music? It is rare that I hear something I haven't heard before, and I am completely not plugged into what's current. Sure, there's new music on pop radio, but what about rock? There is plenty of new music! Unfortunately, there's no college station that makes it way up to where I live.

Photo note: David Bowie in 1974. Did everyone look awful in the 70's?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Payback for believing the hype

My face is pink and raw. It looks pretty nice, but feels terrible. This is what I get for believing the hype. Some magazine I was leafing through in a doctor's office had an article in which it was stated that Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream was "as good as the 200 dollar face creams." Now that I've used this horrible product, I can say with confidence that the 200 dollar face creams are junk. That article didn't actually say that the expensive stuff did anything, now that I think of it. It only said the cheaper stuff was just as good.

My skin is dry, and of course, it's sagging. I'm middle-aged, so that's normal (unless you live in Hollywood). There's nothing wrong with wanting to moisturize it, but I was starting to believe that putting some fancy schmancy product on my face would make the lines and sagging disappear. Here's some ad copy straight out of O Magazine:

"Clinically proven to make skin more luminous, going deep to nourish from the inside out."

It's not a pill, so what does "inside out" mean? And please tell me, how does one clinically prove that skin is more luminous?

"Think about it. In one month, you'll look younger than you do today."

I've got better things to think about, thank you.

"88% felt smoother skin. 66% were measurably more relaxed after inhaling the Night Health aroma."

Wow. That product not only makes one's skin smoother, but eliminates the need for tranquilizers!

"Rough elbows can find happiness."

Y'know, my elbows are rough, but they haven't told me they were feeling down lately. Should I have a talk with them?

Ooh, the next one really must be true, 'cause the word "patent" is in it:

"This exclusive anti-aging breakthrough from France uses patent-pending Protient technology to stimluate micro-tightening within the skin's surface in as little as 20 minutes."


Oh dear. I just discovered that it wasn't an article I read but an ad. It had seeped into my subconscious like a worm in a computer system, destroying all sensible and rational thought as it did its nastiness, convincing me that I had read something other than pure ad copy. Here it is:

"Achieve a firmer, lifted look without taking drastic measures! At under $30, it creamed 32 of the world's most expensive creams. (Even the one costing, gasp, $700.)"

I think it was the parenthetical statement that convinced my brain that I had read an article. Very sneaky, Olay! I also want to point out that parenthetical statements should be embedded in a sentence and are not themselves sentences. But who cares? The bad writing did it's job well. Luckily for me, I bought this dreck* at a drugstore and can get my money back.

My face is burning. Even my eyes sting. And the kicker is, I washed this dreck off my face about two hours ago. And no, there was nothing wrong with my soap. This "product" is overly scented, doesn't moisturize, but sits on the skin getting stickier as the day goes by, causes the skin to become dirty (because it's so sticky), seems to prevent the skin from breathing properly, so that one's face sweats slightly, and. . .well, that's about all. It's enough, isn't it?

What I can't understand is that some people swear by this stuff. This proves a few things: 1. Skin is highly variable. 2. People are suckers.

I was a sucker, too. I probably still am, for I'm going to try to find a good facial moisturizer. There really wasn't anything "wrong" with my skin. It's just old. I should look my age. I'm proud to have made it this far and learned life's lessons on the way. But, for some reason, not believing the beauty product hype is a lesson I still haven't learned. I genuinely thought that technology may have advanced things recently. I mean, some of these products have government patents and such. There's even a new word for this stuff - cosmeceuticals.**

Painting note: Portrait of Lucrezia Panchiatichi by Bronzino in 1545. I had a boring photograph of a composite face up here until a few moments ago, but I felt it was high time for a new painting. The only reason I used the composite was to direct you to a website about some German beauty studies and research.

*Dreck: Yiddish for shit. Ever seen Dreft laundry soap? I have no idea if this is true, but, my mother told me that when the product was first introduced, it's name was Dreck, not Dreft. They had to pull it off the shelves when they discovered what the word meant. Someone needed to do a bit more research, don't you think?

**Otherwise known as the new and improved dreck.

The other shoe

Yesterday's post generated much good cheer. I had thought when I was writing it, "What if I get depressed again?" I put the thought aside. It doesn't matter if I get depressed again. If I do, it doesn't take away anything from the way I feel today. I feel great, in spite of my aching back, feet, and extreme tiredness.

My house smells divine. Dick is making maple syrup from the trees behind our house. Today is the third day of boiling the sap, and I'd venture to guess that there isn't a corner of the house that doesn't smell sweet and yummy. But, for all I know, my cat might deposit a big smelly poop in her litter box.

So many times, when things are going well, we wonder "When is the other shoe going to drop?" Especially for people who have depression, we tend to worry whether our good moods are too good to be true. When we do this, we do ourselves a disservice. The moment is what it is. If we're hanging out in the future during the present, we're not cherishing it.

A woman once asked me if I worried about whether I'd go into a psychiatric unit again. She worried about it a lot. Why should I even think about it? If I need to, I will. If I don't, I won't.

Believe me, I'm not telling anyone to take up the slogan "Don't worry - be happy", but. . .

. . .maybe that is what I'm doing. Uh oh. I once thought, "I'd like to shoot the guy who wrote those lyrics." Hey, people change.

Image note: More Audubon. This time, American Goldfinches. It has nothing to do with the post, but I see many of them out the window, and I never tire of Audubon's gorgeous prints.