Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Just Wondering...

Do you ever find yourself lost in a “what if” moment? Ordinarily, I live my life by the philosophy that nothing is destined, that life is a great big “choose your own adventure” book. Each choice moves you in a direction you might not otherwise have gone and opens up a whole new array of choices. I try to look at what ifs as choices made and move on. But every now and then, one gets the best of me.

I always support my philosophy with the story of my slacking off in my senior year of college. I spent most of the year tossing around the notion of finding a job instead of going to grad school right away, only to find out halfway through the summer just how unmarketable an English Lit degree really is. Virtually my only option was a regional state school that was not only still accepting grad applications but also offering an assistantship. To supplement the assistantship stipend, I applied for part time work in a million places and happened to get hired first at TGIFriday’s. Almost all of the important people in my life I met there. Those school and work decisions from seven years ago still affect the path I’m on today.

But just imagine: what if I’d been motivated my last year of college? What if I’d gone to Notre Dame or NYU or Brown? What if I’d been hired at Houlihans or the GAP? Where would I be now? Who would my friends be? Life would be undeniably different.

Lately I’ve been wondering about other what ifs. Deeper, aching what ifs. If nothing is destined, then it can’t really be true that someone else is living the life I was meant to have. But sometimes it feels that way. There was a time when I had everything I wanted. But, of course, it wasn’t enough. I wanted more. I wanted better. I said and did the stupid things that people do when they are never content. And now I’m left wondering, what if I’d said yes instead of no? What if I’d taken the risk? What if I had refused to walk away? Maybe I’d be living that life still wondering what else might have been, just like I am now. Maybe things would have turned out like I then believed they would, badly. Or maybe I’d be living the life I’ve always secretly wanted instead of writing about it.

Unfortunately there are no do-overs. Sometimes once a series of choices is made, you’re stuck in the present and might not ever return to a place where it’s possible to cancel out those old mistakes with better choices. Sometimes all the new, good choices in the world can’t make up for the opportunities that have already passed you by. Life doesn’t always come full circle. But, oh, how I wish, just this once, it could.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Yesterday someone called me an iconoclast.

Ordinarily, I would take this as a compliment. That was not, however, how it was meant. Here's how the conversation began:

"You carry a purse?"

"Um, yeah...why wouldn't I?"

"That just doesn't fit my perception of you. You seem like too much of an iconoclast to carry a purse."

Well, obviously we are dealing with someone who doesn't really understand the meaning of big words or work with a fully functional thought process. Surely even Joan of Arc, Mary Shelley, and the like all carried purses (or some other time period appropriate clutch). But I couldn't resist probing this a bit further, if only to mock this person mercilessly for his poor logic.
"And what are these perceptions that have led you to believe I am an iconoclast?"

"Well, I've just heard you talking."


"No concrete examples are coming to mind...I've heard you talk about politics and religion. You also seem like a feminist." (This also said like a dirty word).

"I'm liberal if that's what you mean."

"Not just that. Then I heard you mention liking the Flaming Lips, and you dress a certain way, so I added that to my little mental version of you."

"I'm not sure there's just one type of person who likes the Flaming Lips...wait, dress what way??"
"Plus you are a vegetarian and have tattoos" (more nasty words).

"So what you're saying is you work in stereotypes?"

"I just figured you'd be too unconventional to carry a purse. You don't do anything else normal people do."

Normal people? Here I rolled my eyes for about the tenth time of the conversation. It wasn't that these labels are not parts of my personality; they are. But there is an ample number of other parts, ones that carry purses apparently. I don't want to be different simply for the sake of being different. I just want to fully explore all the divergent parts of who I am. I don't like being boiled down to my lowest common denominator. But, do not ask me to elaborate on that metaphor, as my knowledge of math ends there.

I won't even pretend to be free of the desire to box people up. I had put this person in a box long ago; I just had the courtesy not to tell him about it. I have the dubious pleasure of working at the ESL center with this particular tutor, who volunteers there because he has a thing for Hispanic women and is usually trolling for numbers. I, therefore, stereotyped him icky. He also wears shiny black slip-on loafers with jeans and sports jackets. I stereotyped him a hipster douchebag. He throws out ridiculous opinions like, "I think instead of executing Saddam Hussein, we should reinstate him. He'd have shit back under control in a week." Stereotype: moron. He asked if we'd seen his cd case. We had...some Stevie Wonder's Greatest Hits going on. Here a convenient stereotype alludes me, but I visibly cringed.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I don't care what most people think of me. So this guy is way off base. Whatever. When I got thinking about it, I decided I was pissed because he was using these stereotypes in a derrogatory way. How dare you say feminist like it's something bad?! But all stereotypes at their core are to make the people doing the typing feel superior. I just used terms like hipster and moron because I imagine my style and intellect to be vastly superior to his. And vice versa obviously.

We all do it. Think about how much thought (or conscious lack thereof) you've put into your profile blurbs and pictures. You want to be perceived in a certain way and may have gone out of your way not to be perceived in other ways. Maybe that's my problem. I want to be perceived as someone who doesn't fit into neat little boxes. The beauty of personality is the facet and gradations. Classic literature and Cosmo on the same bookshelf. A business suit hanging in the closet next to worn out denim. Stilettos and running shoes. Cupcakes and carrot sticks. Theater and reality television. Sweet and tough. Sarcasm and compassion. The introverted extrovert. I don't like people assuming that just because I am one way I can't also be another.

But it's impossible to be all things to all people. Nobody sets out to be misunderstood, but it can't help but happen. The people who are important, the people who really know me get to see me in my entirety (lucky, lucky them ). And that's all that matters, I guess. The others, the people on the outside, will always see me (you, us) the way they want to, usually the way that makes them most comfortable with their view of themselves.

Maybe the very fact that I don't want to be what people think I am does make me an iconoclast. No italics.


An Open Letter to the Universe

**I wrote this a couple of months ago and still amused by it after the fact, I thought I'd post for our mutual enjoyment**

I read somewhere that putting what you want into words has a mystical power, that putting desires into the universe sometimes makes them materialize. I think this is probably more a case of finding what you want because you have articulated to yourself what you are looking for. Nonetheless, here's my wish list (laundry list, perhaps) for the great universal Build-a-BF.

Dear Universe,

I've been a very good girl this year. Ummm, actually no I haven't, but that's another story. How about giving me the goods anyway without all the strings attached, huh? Okay?

Alright, here's what I do not want: I'm tired of half-ass guys. I don't want to go on any more lousy dates with people I don't have anything in common with. I don't want any more guys who like me just enough for drunken making out but not enough for an actual date. I don't want to meet any more men who lack balls. And since you have such a funny sense of humor, I also don't want any more guys who should theoretically be a good match but with whom I have no chemistry. Got it?

Here's what I do want: I want confidence! No neediness. No petty jealousy. No clinging. No uncertainty. I want someone who takes chances. I want someone with the self-esteem to go for it instead of analyzing everything to death (I can do that enough for both of us promise). While I do enjoy being adored, I want someone who can deal with my intense need for personal space and who isn't bothered that some weekend nights will be non-negotiable girls' only nights.

All of that said, back to the adoration…I'm no diva (well, okay, maybe a little bit of one), but I need some motherfucking romance in my life. Send/bring a girl some flowers. A cute text, email, a handwritten note even (gasp). Seriously, I'm a sucker for that shit. Tell me my outfit is cool. Tell me I'm brilliant. Tell me I have a hot ass (make sure I indeed like you, otherwise that one might get you in trouble). Remember little facts about me and incorporate them, that way I think you were actually listening to me when I was talking. These things are not hard, they do not cost money (I have no ethical issues with accepting flowers stolen from your neighbor's flowerbed); what they do require is a little genuine interest. Therein lies the rub apparently.

Intelligence can also never be over-rated. I don't care if he has a degree or not. He can collect the garbage or perform brain surgery, but if he can't hold his own in a conversation, no deal. Liking to argue (in a good natured way) would also be helpful, making him less likely to get pissed when I try to pick a fun little debate just to spice things up. Push back when I give you a mental shove. Have hobbies, have opinions, be passionate about something. That's sexy as hell.

It would also be super cool if he "gets it." So few guys get it. I'm a complex creature (or would like to think that I am), so being gotten isn't a simple task. Personality similarities, shared interests, common ground—would these be so much to ask? Not all philosophies, values, politics need be the same, but mutual respect for those differences is required. Open-mindedness is a trait likely to work in his favor. Oh and no attempts to change me. Appreciation of me as I am is all-important.

Other various little wishes: A sense of humor, preferably sarcastic like me, please. I like a guy with a little athleticism (as long as this does not lead to camping). Creativity is a huge plus. Play something, make something, write something, and I'm in. Knowing the fine line between being confident and egotistical is essential. Good taste in music and movies. An acceptable fashion-sense or willingness to let me style him. Living in the same time zone would be nice, maybe even the same city? The desire to travel. Tolerant of my cat. Willing to try tofu, just once. Little or no discussion of or watching sports together. Lover of coffee. Someone who enjoys going out. Someone my friends don't hate. Someone who does not want to meet my family for a good long while. Someone I'm as into as he is into me.

And there you have it, universe. What can you do for me?

**Aside to readers: this is not your cue to check your contacts list for potential set-ups. We'll leave this one to chance!


An Ode to Mom

Sometimes I miss my Mom. Especially on days like early last week when I had the flu. Driving home from work, hunched over the steering wheel in a way that seemed least likely to make me puke all over the car, I dialed her work number. "Mommy, I'm sick," I whined. When I was little and sick, my mom would take the day off work to stay home with me, make me blue jell-o, and rub my tummy until I felt better. No matter how much anyone says they love you, there's no one else in the world who will do this for you in quite the same way. This particular day she gave her best flu-care advice over the phone; "Stop and get some Gatorade, take an Advil, take a nap, and then make whatever you vegetarians eat in lieu of chicken noodle soup." I did, and I'm all better now.

I think about my mom every time I give myself a manicure too. When I was a kid, I loved her hands. I liked the way her wedding ring looked and the shape of her nails. They were what I believed a grownup lady's hands looked like. And now, I realize mine look just like hers. We both have long fingers with wide knuckles and oval nails that break too easily. We have short, square palms with long life lines. Both of us have veins running across the tops of our hands, visible under our pale Irish skin. We have beautiful, delicate wrists that contrast with the curvy-ness of the rest of our bodies.

I'm proud of those hands as much for their functionality as their beauty. My mother is the most efficient, capable, hard working woman I know. She knows how to take care of the people she loves. She doesn't like to cook, but she does it with pride. Ours was not a Chips Ahoy house growing up. We had the real thing. Weeding the vegetable garden, the chore I hated most as a child, she taught me not to buy things that you could make yourself. It would taste better that way. It appalled her that we like mashed potatoes out of a box much better than the homemade kind because they were runnier. She taught me how to iron clothes (and how to get away without ironing things). She taught me that Saturdays are for cleaning the house, vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing the bathroom. She taught me that I should always balance my checkbook (a lesson that I observe in my own non-mathematical way) and how to count back change without using a calculator. She taught me to drive a car, all the while clutching the door handle.

When I was a spoiled teenager going to a private school on a scholarship supplemented by her work on the custodial staff, she taught me not to flinch from working hard for something I want and not to let other's opinion of what it meant to "have to work" bother me. "Working is nothing to be ashamed of, she told me. "Nothing in life is free." She also taught me that if I want something I should buy it myself. "You'll appreciate it more, if you bought it yourself." And I did. I earned and spent my own money on my love of fashion, going out, and even my education.

In all her practicality, my mother was a little bit of a softy. She cried when she read the poems I wrote for her on Mother's Day, and she's kept every single school craft project any of her children ever made. The Christmas tree I used to loathe for its gaudiness was loaded with our elementary school ornaments. Our baby albums are filled out in great detail, with letters from her to us that she wrote before we were born. In all those things, she's instilled in me a sentimentality for the artifacts of our daily lives, the symbols of the relationships we have with others. She taught me that the best gift we have to give is ourselves.

I like to say that everything I know about fashion and makeup, I taught myself. My mother grew up in the hippie era of fashion. To this day, except for special occasions, her approach to makeup is generally a little mascara and blush. I have been the one to teach her how to use spray wax and how to magically conceal our hereditary undereye circles. But actually she did teach me a few things. She tried to teach me that nice girls did not wear skirts that short or shirts that low-cut, but she also taught me not to hide in my clothes. She taught me to shop for a bargain and the art of the end of season clearance sales. She taught me to have good posture and that carrying yourself with confidence makes any outfit sexy. Most of all she taught me that I was beautiful. Even when I was a gangly teenager who wanted desperately to have boobs, even when I had a curvy body and wished I could have the angular one back, and everywhere in between, my mother has genuinely believed I looked perfect. In a world where everyone is judging you, it's nice to know that at least one person wouldn't change a thing about you, not even your back fat. And in her no-nonsense way, she made sure I knew that attitude is 99% of beauty; "That's a really ugly attitude you've got on, and you better change it pronto." Now I know enough pretty people with sucky attitudes to get exactly what she meant.

Some would call me independent. I learned this from Mom as well. She taught me not to rely on others, not because they couldn't be trusted but because I was strong enough in myself. I knew that wherever I went—a sleep over, away to college, traveling abroad—she and the rest of my family would be there when I got back. She taught me to seize opportunities, if you are on the right path for you, everything else will fall into place. Because of her, I never felt homesick, I never felt incapable. She made sure I knew from childhood onward that anything I wanted to do career-wise was a possibility. There was no class I couldn't pass with flying colors. There was no limit to what degree I could earn. She taught me that I shouldn't stop learning new things until I'm dead. She thinks I can do anything, and you know what, I can.

My mother has also been the person I confide in about guys and relationships. I haven't always liked her advice, but she's been right more often than not. She's not the kind of mother that believes no man is good enough for her daughter (that's my dad); whatever makes me happy makes her happy. But when happy turns sour, she's made me take a hard look at whether what I thought I wanted was so great after all. "Why would you want to be with someone who doesn't appreciate who you are?" "Well, he's obviously not mature enough to be in a relationship." And the last, my least favorite, "There will be other men. You won't always feel this way about him." But she was right—there are, and I don't. While my mother has taught me not to take any shit from guys, she's also a bit of a romantic. She and father have been married for over 30 years, and I'm even convinced that they still like each other a whole lot. She believes in things like the necessity of being swept off your feet, the existence of true love, and the value of committing yourself to someone special. If I ever believe in those things too, it will be because I've seen in her that they are possible.

My mother and I don't always agree. Sometimes I still roll my eyes at her. She's the conservative to my liberal, the country to my city, the old-fashioned to my contemporary. We don't always understand or fully appreciate where the other one is coming from. But now that I'm older when friends or family members say I remind them of my mom, I take it as a compliment. At the heart of who I am lie an idealism, determination, and compassion that grew out of watching her. There are a lot worse things I could become than my mother.


More than you think you are

I had a new thought the other day. New thoughts are sometimes few and far between, so I thought I'd share.

I had gone to the gym in the interest of keeping my new lifestyle goal (not a new year's resolution) to be healthier via amping up my cardio per week and losing some poundage. After I'd finished, I was looking around for a place to stretch out when I noticed that a yoga class was starting. I'd been to a couple of Bally's yoga classes before, so I thought this would be the perfect way to stretch out and relax at the end of a very long day.

It was a small late evening class with only about 5 other people participating. The very sneaky teacher had turned down the lights and put on some soft yoga music in the background. Even having to use one of the community yoga mats (ewww, germs) wasn't going to get me down. I was ready to chill. Not so much chilling...Before I knew it I was ten chaturangas (a push up with your elbows pointing straight back) into a power yoga class. Normally no big deal, but after an hour of running/eliptical training, too much! I found myself in downard facing dog (the resting part of the sun salutation sequence) with my arms visibly trembling, exerting everything I had left in me to keep from face planting into the mat.

In this exhaustion, I realized that I felt oh so alive. Somehow, feeling my body's frailty made the act it was doing more amazing. I'd felt similar thrills that combined both my physical limits and my ability to reach beyond them during other athletic moments: at the top of a climbing wall, shaking partly with fatigue, partly with adrenaline; at the end of a run where I went farther than I ever thought my unwilling legs could carry me; or back in college after three-a-day preseason practices, the feeling that I couldn't perform for one more minute but surprising myself by playing even harder.

Later, I wondered about the idea of finding our strength in weakness and what other areas of life this could apply to. I find it much harder to take risks emotionally than I do physically. Emotional risks, like telling someone how you really feel about them, confronting someone close to you, letting new people into your life, starting an ambitious program/project, applying for a job or promotion you don't think you can get, are the equivalent of working without a net. In physical activities, there are options if the weakness becomes too much. I could do child's pose, there is a trusted person holding the ropes, I could call a time out. But in real life, sometimes we have to make the leap without knowing for sure if we can make it to the other side. Some of us are lucky enough to have emotional safety nets in people who have our back no matter what and will scrape us off the pavement if we misjudge the jump. However, in the end, we have to be the ones to take the chance. We can calculate all we want, but it comes down to believing that despite how inadequate we might feel, there are depths of strength in us that we don't even know we have.

Here's to a year of taking more chances on others and on myself.


Nothing to see in this mailbox, I swear

Did anyone else see the news story yesterday that the fine print of some postal legistlation signed last month gives the government the right to read your mail without a warrant? Add that to the wire tapping and bank records and why don't we save a step and have a federal agent move in with every American family? Better to keep an eye on all of us first hand.

The wire tapping issue came up during the last semester I taught at SIUE and we discussed it as a class one evening. I was shocked (appalled even) that only one person in the entire class thought there was anything wrong with allowing the government to do things like this without a warrant. One girl said, "Well, if I'm not doing anything wrong, why would I care? They can listen to my phone calls if they want." What? Really??? Unfortunately, I know too many people who feel the same way as my student. And that apathy has translated into the whittling away of our most prized civil liberties.

Whatever happened to privacy, reasonable doubt, due process? It's an over used quote lately, but I think Ben Franklin said it best, "They that would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Moves like these in the name of "security" may or may not turn up valuable information, but there's a correct way to obtain that information when necessary. Through a judge and warrant order. The other popular argument, that time-constraints might make a warrant impossible if the information is to be obtained quickly, seems like a very rare scenario.

Who's to say the government would even be keeping an eye on real terrorists. Take the number of people who have been released from Gitmo after the powers that be realized, "Oops, you aren't a terrorist after all...our bad. Sucks that you've been imprisoned for three years." Something tells me the wire taps, bank records, and mail reading net would be cast even wider. Unchecked power in the government threatens even the culture of dissent that America was built on. "Agree, shut up, or face the consequences" isn't the kind of society I want to live in.

So what if I'm not really doing anything wrong? So what if all the governement would find out from checking my collective records is that I have an ungodly number of rollover minutes, barely have enough cash to finance my lifestyle let alone anti-government organizations, and get nothing more exciting than Victoria's Secret catalogues in the mail? Forgive me if based on its track record, I want a second opinion on what this administration deems a "good reason" to invade a citizen's privacy.


Goodbye 2006

The holidays are almost over (thank god); just New Year's Eve to go and then buh-bye old year, hello 2007. A clean slate. One more chance to do things right. Or if you like, to do things the same old way. I've been thinking a lot about "the same old way" tonight. I was lying on the floor in Corpse pose (the relaxation at the end of practice, for you non-yoga practitioners) unexplicably feeling a little sad. Actually it's not so unexplicable, rather I'm going to stop short of diary-esque details (kills you doesn't it?)... And while I was lying there on the floor feeling a little mopey, I had the strangest sense of deja vu. It occurred to me that I was feeling very much the same way as last year about this time. Caught in transition. Wanting things I couldn't have. Taking the things I did have for granted.

I was so determined that 2006 would symbolize great changes in my life. I quit one job and got another one. I tried the vegetarian thing. I moved into a new apartment without a roommate (unless you count Karma). I finally dated a bit (with dubious success). I resolved to exercise more. I made new friends. I got closer to some old ones. I attempted to become a better person in a variety of ways (also with dubious success). I repeated my mantra: Let. It. Go.
But the more things have changed, the more, deep down, things have stayed the same. There are also annoying people at my new job, and sometimes I'm bored out of my mind there too (thus all the surveys). Sometimes I crave a burger like nobody's business. I miss having a human roommate to bitch at for being too messy. I still have yet to meet anyone who makes my knees weak or my heart beat the way it did when I was 23. I stopped working out (but started again). Sometimes I'm more anti-social than outgoing with new people. I've been terrible about keeping in touch with some of those beloved old friends. And in any number of ways that I've tried to transcend the "self," at heart, I'm usually selfishly looking out for me and what I think will make me happy. And when it comes right down to it, there are some things I just don't want to let go of. I look at the past and still wish I could rewrite a prettier, fairytale ending for it and call it a life lived. So maybe I didn't change that much after all. I can't decide if that's a horrible thing, or an okay thing, or something in between.

So I'm not going to create any expectations for 2007. Call it copping out. Call it embracing mystery. I'm going to stop screaming for more or different and take what comes my way. I'm just going to go with it for once. Wish me luck.


When did it become okay?

On the weekend when I go out to run errands, as in going grocery shopping or doing laundry, my goal is to finish what I'm doing and get back to having fun or being lazy as soon as possible. I mind my own business. I bring the iPod to discourage conversation. I don't make eye contact. I do not dress up for these activities. Generally wardrobing includes a fleece pullover and yoga pants. Yet, in my neighborhood, no matter how awful I look when out doing errands, I still manage to draw unwanted attention from nasty men.

In the course of two hours at the neighborhood laundry, I experienced the two following come-ons. The first one was mildly first. I climb out of the car and wrestle my laundry basket from the trunk. Some random guy loitering in the middle of the parking lot watches this and proceeds to state the obvious; "You about to do some laundry?" "Tryin'," I answer. "You tryin' to get my number too?" I almost had to give the guy props...nice segue. "Nah, man, I'm full up on numbers. Thanks though," I reply. So I go get my laundry started and then come back outside to put my detergent bottle back in the trunk. By this time he has wandered back toward the Metro stop. But he has excellent eyesight apparently because the next thing I know he's yelling at me from the waiting area. "You change your mind, girl? That's a bangin' ass you got." Thanks guy, I and the other twenty people who heard that really appreciate that you appreciate my ass. Awesome. Asshole.

The rest of the laundry doing went fairly smoothly. So, an hour or so later, I emerge again with my basket of Gain-fresh, neatly folded laundry. 20 feet or so to my car and I can go back home and take a weekend afternoon nap. I'm not that lucky. "Damn, girl, where you from?" some guy shouts in my general direction. Rudeness two times in one day is more than I can handle. I roll my eyes (and those of you who know me know that I do this with particular contemptive flair). "What you too good to talk to me?" I'd frankly had enough, "Yeah, asshole, I am. When the fuck did it become alright to yell at women on the street. That method working out for you?" I'm very brave when it's daylight and there are lots of witnesses around. "You ain't gotta get mad." Too late, buddy.

Seriously, when did that become okay? I don't know you, you don't know me, but I'm supposed to swoon when you yell at me across the parking lot? I'm supposed to believe that my good looks are so inspiring that there's no other possible reaction (fleece pullovers are hott!)? Whatever happened to non-threatening flirtation like smiling and saying hi?

I've never understood this courtship method...what about whistling and yelling from cars? Really, guys, what do you think is going to happen? The girl is going to be so turned on by your ability to whistle that she's going to flag you down to get your number? This is particularly offensive when women are out running. Yeah, laugh it up, fellas. I'm out here sweating my ass off in shorts and a t-shirt just for your viewing pleasure. Woohoo, legs!!! Seriously, get a life.
My question is are there women who actually respond to this? Have these behaviors been reinforced by some woman somewhere signing up for a date with one of these morons?
Shouldn't repeated failure signal a need to change tactics? Unless you are President, you think the correct answer here is yes. I get a little up in arms about stuff like this because at its deepest level, I think agressive come-ons like this are just that, aggressive. Call it a "cultural difference" or whatever, but I don't buy that. Can't we all agree on a cross-cultural definition of general politeness? I can't just be "flattered" by random ass comments because from my perspective in this context of blattant objectification, I'm being verbally assaulted. And that's just not cool, regardless of the initial intention.

I don't know when the neighborhood shopping plaza became a pick-up joint, but I'm not having it. Let a girl do her laundry in peace!


Death of a Pessimist?

I've always sort of prided myself on my cynicism, held up my pessimism like a badge of honor. "It's not pessimism; it's realism." That's what a friend of mine always says when I call him on his bullshit. Isn't pessimism why I became a writer in the first place? So I could bitch about all the things I hate about the world and my life? I was going to blog today, not because I necessarily had anything valuable to say but because when things are slow at work, doing something creative for myself feels like a redemption of 8 hours at my desk.

Looking back at recent posts about how much I love my life makes even me a little nauseous, so I was wracking my brain for something edgy to discuss. Better yet, I wanted to write something fictional this time. Thinking I might cop out and post something I'd already written, I went through the files on my USB drive. There were a couple of short pieces that were still powerful to me in their anger and sadness. Fiction based on real life events…who am I kidding…line for line transcription of real life with the added lines of what I once wished I'd had the balls to say. But I couldn't post them in their hideous, post mortem honesty…because I don't feel that way anymore.

Somewhere along the way, the girl who was such a hard ass, who took joy in holding particular grudges, lost her grip on the past. Maybe it's that I don't have the energy for resentment. Maybe I'm genuinely too lazy to exert the force of indignation. I prefer to think of it as forgiveness.

I was reading a meditation the other day that said the only permanent thing in life is impermanence. I don't like that idea. All I (and most other people) want is for our happy moments (read: euphoric moments, not mildly contented ones) to last forever. But here's a piece of realism for you: continual euphoric happiness is completely unrealistic. Life is cyclical. Soaring highs. Abysmal lows. Some average stuff in between. I thrive on excitement. I hate the average stuff almost as much as the lows. At least the lows provide a little drama. Too bad, because I think the middle ground, which seems to make up the largest part of the cycle, is probably where daily happiness (yeah, the contented kind) exists.

The part of this that does make sense to me is that if I'm going to really enjoy every fleeting moment of where I am right now, I can't waste time and energy thinking angrily about how I may or may not have been wronged in the past (as though I'm perfect and everything was completely other people's faults). My new mantra: Let. It. Go.

I can't change 4 years ago. I can't change 3 months ago. I can't change 2 minutes ago. All I can do is move forward and create the kind of present that I want to live in. I can build better bridges in place of the ones I've burned. I can give the gift of seeing people for who they are today and not who they once were. I can try to appreciate the moments without trying to hang onto them after they're gone or spending all my time anticipating future ones.

So somewhere in all this forgiving and living, I've misplaced some of my cynicism. Making changes instead of bitching has softened my pessimism. I feel hopeful. I'm happy. And goddammit, that makes for very bad fiction. When was the last time you read a short story with a happy ending outside of a children's book?


I Love...

I miss writing in a journal. I stopped b/c I felt like all I did was whine and wallow. And I did…but I miss being able to look back at a year of my life and remember all the things that had happened to me, revel in the good and feel stronger b/c I made it through the bad. At the end of the year, I always seem to find myself looking back. Not in the cheesy, Hallmark way, not even always in a useful reflective way. 2006 went so fast. But overall it was a good year. Here are a few things I loved and hated about 2006.

Loved—going to April's New Years party w/ Mel (in her 5 minute "wild girl" phase).

Loved—the days of a job where I got a three week break in the winter (and summer too for that matter)…so what if it was technically unpaid?

Loved—Coffee Wednesdays w/ Shelley and Jamie when we were all on campus together.

Loved—movie nights w/ Neil.

Hated—going to the NADE conference w/ all those dowdy educators.

However, Loved—presenting w/ Jamie and "Chaz" and subsequently getting published.

Loved—our trip to NYC and our weekend of food (Kishore's homemade yogurt!), museums, walking in the freezing cold, Erin's 1 ½ hour getting ready routine, and dancing until the wee hours of the morning. Okay, some of those things sucked, but as a whole, it was a fab trip.

Loved (and feared)—introducing Chief and Karma…oh why can't they love each other???
Loved—Friday Girls' Nights w/ great food, too much wine, and even more digital pictures for the 'space.

A related love: stripper shoes and cowboy boots that caused such a sensation.

Loved—going w/ Shelley to SIUE's presentation of the Vagina Monologues, and I hope she reads one this year!

Hated—my students in the spring…seriously, the kids in the fall were so cool…I don't know what happened.

Loved—Saint Patrick's Day at the Scottish Arms w/ new friends and old.

Hated—that I had to work at 9 am the next morning.

Loved—my introduction to the Reeses Big Bite. Not all peanut butter is disgusting.

Loved—saying goodbye to a dead-end job at SIUE (and some of my more annoying coworkers) and moving on to a career w/ a future (ie, that pays me all year long).

Loved—depressing films at Frontenac...and the quote, "Seriously, can we see something where no one gets hung?"

Hated—not having an office next to Jamie anymore or seeing Shelley in the hallway at random.

Loved—belly dancing on Sundays.

Loved—visiting DC to hang out w/ Jeff and Butterstick.

Loved—evenings of drinks on the patio…any patio where we could people watch.

Hated—my brother moving away and having to move out of my fabulous old apartment.

Loved—that I had such good friends and family members (especially Rebekah) to help me move and let me stay w/ them when the air conditioner in my new apartment wasn't working!

Loved—summer pedicures.

Loved—getting a boss that took us on a shoe shopping trip during work hours!

Loved—yoga in the park, rock climbing, bike rides, and all those other summer sports.

Loved—margaritas by the pool, laying in the sun w/ spf 45 on, talking and laughing until we were almost melted.

Loved—going to Les Miserables w/ Elliott. Those were the best seats I've ever had…So good I was willing to drive through a tornado and sacrifice a strappy shoe to get there.

Loved—evening walks around the park, through the Loop, always farther than we'd meant to go.

Loved—how everyone had their birthday party at the Delmar Lounge.

Loved—Soulard Market in the summer time. Queen Anne cherries, fresh flowers, fruit tarts. A great place.

Loved—the Sunday night ritual…creative baking, movie watching, the Flava of Love, making fun of the poker boys, haha.

Loved—that some people found my blogs so incendiary that they dropped me from their subscription list.

Loved—fiction readings at Left Bank.

Loved—trying on giant diamonds in a jewelry store in Kirkwood.

Loved—waking up every morning to a big wet kiss from Karma. Seriously, I love that little animal.

Loved—learning to cook for real…finally. I've made things that turned out tasty!
Hated—the children in the daycare facility in the first floor of the building I live in (luckily, it closed down…and I didn't even have anything to do w/ it!)

Loved--waking up to fresh makers w/ a timer are the best invention since electricity.

Loved—Laredo's night w/ lots of margaritas and tequila.

Loved—Chihuly in the Garden….why do I forget my camera when it counts?

Loved—Amy's weekend trip to St. Louis.

Loved—my trip to Chicago (Gin Blossoms!)

Loved—my 2 am drive home listening to Dane Cook and Mitch Hedberg to keep myself awake.

Loved—that Barak Obama wrote me back (not a form letter either) when I wrote him an e-mail about closing slaughter houses.

Loved—my birthday party. Seriously, I have the best, most fun friends in the world. Totally outdid 2005.

Loved—my Christmas tree. I haven't put it up in 3 years, and I'd forgotten how beautiful it is.

Loved—my new furniture arrangement…finally, I like my apartment.

Loved—the new tattoo born out of Shelley's b-day present to me!

Loved—those gorgeous earrings (which have been complimented every time I've had them on) from Jamie.

Loved—that Mel (safely) had her kid last night…If her little boy is anything like her, he should be the world's coolest child. I'm so proud of her, and she's going to be a GREAT mom.

There are plenty more, but this will do for now! If you didn't specifically make the list, I love you too and you know it!



Points off for Incoherence

I have a new addiction aside from caffeine and shoes...and the hordes of other frivolities I can't live without: reading other people's blogs (places other than on here I mean).
It all started with reading the Glamour magazine dating blog. This chick Alyssa knows/meets more men than humanly possible, dates them all, writes about it, and asks readers to weigh in on daily polls about what she should do next. The draw there is obvious. Who wouldn't want to have the vicarious fun of fucking up someone else's dating life with capricious advice instead of her own for a change?

From there, I found out about this one called Greek Tragedy by a Stephanie Klein. She's also a writer who started out writing about life in NYC...although now she's gotten married, moved to Texas, and gotten pregnant. But somewhere between worrying about gestational diabetes and what kind of Rachel Ray side dishes to make for Thanksgiving, she has some really good observations and creative writing exercises she's done.

From her weblinks, I've discovered more blogs, mostly by women, writing about work, friends, relationships, creativity, politics, celebrities, and a million other things. I'm not sure why I like it so much, other than it seems like, as different as individual women are, whatever city we live in, whatever work we do, we spend time thinking about very similar things. Maybe that's comforting.

Anyway, it inspires me. Makes me want to write more often. However, I don't think I could be a daily blogger...does anyone really care what I did last night? In case you do, Karma and I watched Strictly Ballroom, after which I salsa-ed around the house for the rest of the night. Aren't you glad you asked? Sorry there are no pictures available.
What's weird is, just as soon as you think there's a deep interconnectedness between people and that we are all just here to build each other up, there's always someone to bring you back to reality. Mine was this morning. I went to Starbucks with a coworker that I usually avoid spending quality time with (but we were both on our way at the same time). She said she heard I had a birthday coming up and wanted to know how old I would be. She is a good 5-7 years older, so I didn't mind telling. Then in a seemingly unrelated question, she wanted to know if I had a boyfriend. When I told her no, this was her response, "You better work on that; women in their early 20s have all the power when it comes to dating. If you don't find someone before 30, you will regret it."

Find someone? Geez, forget coffee, let's buy cianide and end it all. In fairness, as I mentioned before, she's a little older than me and single too, so maybe it's been a bad dating month. But the situation as dire as all that? It was early and I was a little shocked, but I think I said something like, " Wow, I'll be sure to hook up with the wrong guy ASAP."
I'm not trying to be a bitch, I get her point. It is much easier to meet people (in sheer volume) when you are younger, college and all that. But whoever said it's quality not quanity that counts hit it on the head. If I wanted to choose from strings of men, I'd try the modern equivalent of the mail order bride catalogue, online dating. It totally works for others, but it's just not me. Is it wrong to prefer the organic method of meeting people through your friends and acquaintances, even if that limits the number of options? I don't know 100s of guys; I know a few gems. Good enough for me.

As for nearing the big 3-0, I'm really really okay with being 28 next week. I was thinking the other day about the difference between life now and when I was 22. Six years makes a big difference. I wouldn't go back even if I could, I don't think. Yes, perhaps I could make better decisions now, but where's the fun in that? I had a great time in my early 20s. Lots of love, laughter, and trouble. But truth be told, the 22-year-old me was a little bit of a dip and a lot of a drama queen. There's still plenty dippiness left (very little drama queen), but overall, in the past year or so, I've become much more secure in my life and my choices and sooooooo much happier than I was then. It's not a bad place to be for a change.

So welcome 28. I think it's going to be a good year.

Oh, and go read some blogs.


More Than a Book Review (This one is long but worth it)

I've always loved reading, and ever since the first middle school book report, I could think of nothing more exciting than sharing my excitement over something I'd read with others. Somethings never change. Recently on NPR, I caught the end of an interview with author Dr. Robin Meyers speaking about his new book Why the Christian Right Is Wrong. The very title caught my attention…I had some pretty clear opinions myself on why they were wrong and wondered what his might be. What piqued my interest was that Dr. Meyers is also a minister from the notoriously conservative state of Oklahoma. My curiosity had the best of me, and I was in Borders the next afternoon to pick up the book. As I read, I felt like he was pointing out many of the very inconsistencies between the teachings of Jesus and church practice that had caused me to distance myself from organized Christianity. In his words, which were carefully researched and documented from a well-rounded variety of sources, I found a voice that expressed it was possible to be a person of faith and a compassionate, ethical, logical human being as well. He carefully traces the rise of religious fundamentalism and its incorporation into American politics. The current administration's relationship with so-called Christianity has both eroded the separation of church and state and perverted a faith to give credence to its destructive agendas. As I worked through the book, I marked all the passages I wanted to remember to share with others, but in the end, I realized there were far too many. The only way to really understand the impact of this book is to read it. The book was based on a speech he delivered to students attending a peace rally at the University of Oklahoma, which you can read below. Following the speech, I've included a list of 14 Characteristics of Fascism that political scientist Lawrence Britt published after studying the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet, which Meyers reprinted in chapter 10. Enjoy:

What Are Moral Values
As some of you know, I am minister of Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City, an Open and Affirming, Peace and Justice church in northwest Oklahoma City, and professor of Rhetoric at Oklahoma City University. But you would most likely have encountered me on the pages of the Oklahoma Gazette, where I have been a columnist for six years, and hold the record for the most number of angry letters to the editor. Tonight, I join ranks of those who are angry, because I have watched as the faith I love has been taken over by fundamentalists who claim to speak for Jesus, but whose actions are anything but Christian. We've heard a lot lately about so-called "moral values" as having swung the election to President Bush. Well, I'm a great believer in moral values, but we need to have a discussion, all over this country, about exactly what constitutes a moral value -- I mean what are we talking about? Because we don't get to make them up as we go along, especially not if we are people of faith. We have an inherited tradition of what is right and wrong, and moral is as moral does. Let me give you just a few of the reasons why I take issue with those in power who claim moral values are on their side:

When you start a war on false pretenses, and then act as if your deceptions are justified because you are doing God's will, and that your critics are either unpatriotic or lacking in faith, there are some of us who have given our lives to teaching and preaching the faith who believe that this is not only not moral, but immoral.

When you live in a country that has established international rules for waging a just war, build the United Nations on your own soil to enforce them, and then arrogantly break the very rules you set down for the rest of the world, you are doing something immoral.

When you claim that Jesus is the Lord of your life, and yet fail to acknowledge that your policies ignore his essential teaching, or turn them on their head (you know, Sermon on the Mount stuff like that we must never return violence for violence and that those who live by the sword will die by the sword), you are doing something immoral.

When you act as if the lives of Iraqi civilians are not as important as the lives of American soldiers, and refuse to even count them, you are doing something immoral.

When you find a way to avoid combat in Vietnam, and then question the patriotism of someone who volunteered to fight, and came home a hero, you are doing something immoral.

When you ignore the fundamental teachings of the gospel, which says that the way the strong treat the weak is the ultimate ethical test, by giving tax breaks to the wealthiest among us so the strong will get stronger and the weak will get weaker, you are doing something immoral.

When you wink at the torture of prisoners, and deprive so-called "enemy combatants" of the rules of the Geneva convention, which your own country helped to establish and insists that other countries follow you are doing something immoral.

When you claim that the world can be divided up into the good guys and the evil doers, slice up your own nation into those who are with you, or with the terrorist -- and then launch a war which enriches your own friends and seizes control of the oil to which we are addicted, instead of helping us to kick the habit, you are doing something immoral.

When you fail to veto a single spending bill, but ask us to pay for a war with no exit strategy and no end in sight, creating an enormous deficit that hangs like a great millstone around the necks of our children, you are doing something immoral.

When you cause most of the rest of the world to hate a country that was once the most loved country in the world, and act like it doesn't matter what others think of us, only what God thinks of you, you have done something immoral.

When you use hatred of homosexuals as a wedge issue to turnout record numbers of evangelical voters, and use the Constitution as a tool of discrimination, you are doing something immoral.

When you favor the death penalty, and yet claim to be a follower of Jesus, who said an eye for an eye was the old way, not the way of the kingdom, you are doing something immoral.

When you dismantle countless environmental laws designed to protect the earth which is God's gift to us all, so that the corporations that bought you and paid for your favors will make higher profits while our children breathe dirty air and live in a toxic world, you have done something immoral. The earth belongs to the Lord, not Halliburton.

When you claim that our God is bigger than their God, and that our killing is righteous, while theirs is evil, we have begun to resemble the enemy we claim to be fighting, and that is immoral.
We have met the enemy, and the enemy is us.

When you tell people that you intend to run and govern as a "compassionate conservative," using the word which is the essence of all religious faith--compassion--and then show no compassion for anyone who disagrees with you, and no patience with those who cry to you for help, you are doing something immoral.

When you talk about Jesus constantly, who was a healer of the sick, but do nothing to make sure that anyone who is sick can go to see a doctor, even if she doesn't have a penny in her pocket, you are doing something immoral.

When you put judges on the bench who are racist, and will set women back a hundred years, and when you surround yourself with preachers who say gays ought to be killed, you are doing something immoral.

I'm tired of people thinking that because I'm a Christian I must be a supporter of President Bush, or that because I favor civil rights and gay rights I must not be a person of faith. I'm tired of people saying that I can't support the troops but oppose the war

I heard that when I was your age, when the Vietnam war was raging. We knew that that war was wrong, and you know that this war is wrong--the only question is how many people are going to die before these make-believe Christians are removed from power?

This country is bankrupt. The war is morally bankrupt. The claim of this administration to be Christian is bankrupt. And the only people who can turn things around are people like you--young people who are just beginning to wake up to what is happening to them. It's your country to take back. It is your faith to take back. It's your future to take back.

Don't be afraid to speak out. Don't back down when your friends begin to tell you that the cause is righteous and that the flag should be wrapped around the cross, while the rest of us keep our mouths shut. Real Christians take chances for peace. So do real Jews, and real Muslims, and real Hindus, and real Buddhists--so do all the faith traditions of the world at their heart believe one thing: life is precious.

Every human being is precious. Arrogance is the opposite of faith. Greed is the opposite of charity. And believing that one has never made a mistake is the mark of a deluded man, not a man of faith.

And war -- war is the greatest failure of the human race-- and thus the greatest failure of faith. There's an old rock and roll song, whose lyrics say it all: War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

And what is the dream of the prophets? That we should study war no more, that we should beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks. Who would Jesus bomb, indeed? How many wars does it take to know that too many people have died? What if they gave a war and nobody came? Maybe one day we will find out.

Time to march again my friends. Time to commit acts of civil disobedience. Time to sing, and to pray, and refuse to participate in the madness. My generation finally stopped a tragic war. You can too!

14 Characteristics of Fascism
1. Powerful and continuing nationalism
2. Disdain for the recognition of human rights
3. Identification of enemies and scapegoats as a unifying cause
4. Supremacy of the military
5. Rampant sexism
6. Controlled mass media
7. Obsession with national security
8. Religion and government intertwined
9. Protection of corporate power
10. Suppression of labor power
11. Disdain for intellectuals and the arts
12. Obsession with crime and punishment
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
14. Fraudulent elections.

Sound familiar at all? Even if you aren't religious, even if you are and took issue with his comments, I hope you'll at least take the time to think about why and maybe open the book and read the arguments before making an easy judgement. Something light next time, I promise!--perhaps a discussion on the Flava of Love?


It's amazing what you find out when you read the news

Yesterday on a local news website, I began reading an article about how I-44 was shut down near Sullivan, MO b/c of an accident involving a truck pulling a horse trailer carrying about 40 horses. There were pictures of the resuce workers herding the animals into makeshift corrals along the interstate. They were so adoreable; a real feel good story. The report then mentioned that several of the horses had been killed in the accident and several more had to be "put down" because of severe injuries. I had immediately wondered what kind of trailer was large enough to carry that many horses safely or comfortably and now wondered if this had contributed to the amount of injuries. Then I got to the end of the article to a single sentence stating that the horses were on their way to a slaughterhouse in Northern Illinois.

Then I remembered a report I vaguely heard on NPR while I was getting ready for work. The report discussed the push in the Illinois state congress to outlaw the slaughter of horses in the state and shut down the slaughterhouse in DeKalb, Illinois, which is supposedly 1 of only 4 of its kind in the US. In a slight twist on the old "glue factory" story, these slaughterhouses buy horses that no one wants--old horses, sick or lame horses, horses people no longer want to care for--and process them as meat to sell in Europe where in some countries equine meat is considered a delicacy.

The combination of these two news stories revolts me. Obviously, I am against the slaughter and exploitation of all animals, but horses?! As someone who used to ride recreationally, the idea of anyone allowing this to happen to their horse makes me ill. Even if you aren't a vegetarian or into animal rights, I think you can at least agree that butchering and consuming a "companion animal" is disgusting. Would you sell your aging family cat or dog to be packaged and sold for someone's dinner?

I can't honestly say where I stand on euthanizing animals either, but it seems to me that if a pet, and many if not most horse owners view their horses as pets, is old and suffering, there are FAR more humane ways to aleviate that suffering than making a buck and sending them off to a brutal slaughterhouse.

I was gratified to read in this morning's news that the Humane Society was taking legal action to gain custody of the remaining 26 animals it helped rescue yesterday so they could be adopted out and allowed to live out their days in caring homes. So if successful, that saves these 26 horses, but many others aren't going to be so lucky. I usually prefer just to bitch and rarely write my congress person, but this will be an exception. This is just another case of exploitation of nature for human luxury and profit. You might argue that there are more serious problems in the world right now--war, poverty, hunger--and this is true. But we should stand up for the rights and fair treatment of all those who can't speak for or help themselves. Animals included! It all comes down to practicing compassion for all living things.


Things To Do

Awhile back in Glamour some other equally credible and literary magazine, I read about an article about a woman who died in the World Trade Center. Although, I get sick of the mileage the press gets out of that tragedy, the content of the article about how after her death her family found a her list of 100 Goals to Accomplish in My Lifetime inspired me to make my own list. Some of them are silly, some are serious, some I might accomplish tomorrow and some not for years, but here they are...I look forward to crossing them off one by one.

100 Things to Do (in no particular order)

1. (Attempt to) Repay my parents for all the things they've given me and done for me.

2. Actively be more outgoing and expand my circle of friends.

3. Become a yoga instructor.

4. And then open a yoga studio/vegan cafe on the beach somewhere.

5. Visit India.

6. Research my family's history.

7. Buy my own house/condo.

8. Finish reading Ulysses.

9. Go to the ballet.

10. Learn to speak Spanish.

11. Be a better friend.

12. Donate more $ to charities I believe in.

13. Write/publish a novel.

14. Learn more about art so I can speak intelligently about it.

15. Take more dance classes (belly, ballroom, latin, all of them)!

16. Seek to define my spiritual beliefs and practice them more regularly.

17. See (if not necessarily climb) Mt. Everest.

18. Teach English abroad for a year.

19. Get a PhD in contemporary literature by women.

20. Take a meditation course.

21. (re-)Join a competitive volleyball league.

22. Learn more about Jazz music.

23. Audition for a local theater production (I should be Roxie Heart, or Beatrice, get the point).

24. Read more non-fiction.

25. Mentor underpriveleged girls.

26. Work to be a truly healthy/fit person.

27. Become a talented, creative cook.

28. Advocate/volunteer for an organization that defends women's rights around the world.

29. Adopt another pet.

30. Go white water rafting.

31. Pose for professional, artsy photos.

32. Go on an exotic beach vacation w/ my best friends.

33. Get Lasik.

34. Stand up for who I am and what I believe even when others oppose.

35. Drink more water...thought I was going to say alcohol didn't you.

36. Tour Europe with a significant other.

37. Go to more music shows.

38. Spend more quality time with my siblings.

39. Have better posture.

40. Learn to play guitar.

41. Become a senior managing editor or new manuscript recruiter for a major publishing house.

42. Vote for a qualified female candidate for President of the United States.

43. Make my living space (no matter how small), cozy and "my own."

44. Take a return trip to Ireland.

45. Live in NYC.

46. Learn to respect the views of others even when I don't agree (at all).

47. Fall in love for more than a minute...

48. Buy myself a right-hand diamond ring.

49. Visit Japan.

50. Meet Sarah Jessica Parker.

51. Volunteer for a political campaign.

52. Learn to sew so I can deconstruct/reconstruct things I buy in stores and make them personal.

53. Be more forgiving.

54. Be an extra on a movie/tv show (I would be great as Jack's new love interest on Lost!).

55. Give a fiction reading.

56. Give up my caffiene addiction.

57. Stop caring if I'm tan (Say NO to skin cancer...).

58. Participate in a demonstration/protest.

59. Work at NPR.

60. Undermine racism, sexism, and all those other -isms whenever I can.

61. Adopt a child (some day).

62. Stop gossiping.

63. Take a pottery-making class.

64. Own (or even try on) a pair of Manolos!

65. Organize my closet (and keep it that way).

66. Throw a top-notch dinner party.

67. Compete in a ballroom dance competition.

68. Be less neurotic...relax!

69. Live in Chicago.

70. Go vegan.

71. Continue "decorating" my body with art.

72. Donate my organs and then my body to science after death.

73. Go to therapy (if for no other reason than the experience).

74. Write/make a documentary.

75. Eat dark chocolate in Switzerland.

76. Learn more about wine.

77. Meet Hilary Clinton.

78. Be more adventurous, be it in my entree selection or my life choices.

79. Visit Dracula's castle in Austria (or is it Hungary?).

80. Learn to drive a stick shift.

81. Meet my relative who lives in Scotland.

82. Buy a real bedroom set and other adult furniture.

83. Win a hand (or 20) of blackjack in Vegas.

84. Indulge without constantly feeling guilty.

85. Communicate telepathically.

86. Be less pointlessly vain.

87. Appreciate the beauty of wherever I'm living (ie, Forest Park).

88. Learn to speak Japanese.

89. Elope.

90. Go skiing.

91. Be less cynical.

92. Watch all those classic films I've never seen.

93. Appreciate my body for what it is and stop torturing it to be something it won't.

94. See a kangaroo in the wild.

95. Go to the opera.

96. Be more flexible, physically and in the abstract sense.

97. Go sky diving.

98. Retire in close proximity to the beach--Bonus points if it's abroad.

99. Spend less time on MySpace.

100. Live honestly.


A Memory

Sometimes it feels like life develops a theme. The same questions arising from seemingly unconnected daily events--a conversation, a song, a dream, an email, a horoscope, a magazine article--tiny things that as they add up make you search out the heart of who you are. It's hard to put the experience into words and even harder to extrapolate some kind of coherent meaning from it. But here goes...

Perhaps it began with a piece of environmental art, or at least this was the first instance that struck me. It was a cloudy, cool day in early June, one day into my mini-vacation to DC, and I was feeling the lethargy of that one hour jet lag. I was at a park on the Gwynn Falls Trail in Baltimore for the kick-off celebration of the Art on the Trail Festival. Before I arrived, I'd pictured a city park with lots of benches, maybe a playground, and definitely a coffee shop nearby where I could get my fix first. Instead, when I finally found the park tucked far back on the curving, wooded backroads of suburban Baltimore, I discovered the park was more of the recreation variety with a stone pavillion, picnic tables, and apparently somewhere a path to this elusive trail, but not a coffee shop in sight. The art festival wasn't what I expected either. Instead of the arts and crafts fair I'd envisioned, it was an environmental art exhibition by local artists who had used the natural surroundings as a backdrop or actually to create art.

Some of it was strange to say the least: CDs hanging by strings of varying lengths from low limbs in a oak grove, a tree-like sculpture made of popcicle sticks attached to a dead tree stump. What stood out to me was an eight-foot green banner with white lettering anchored by stones and floating in the stream that ran through the park. It read: "What You Are Looking for Is Lost." The tour group moved on, but I couldn't tear myself away. I sat on the stones and stared hard so I'd remember the setting. I tried to no avail to take a picture with my camera phone. Finally I jotted down the words on the back of an old receipt in my purse and prepared to leave.
But later, walking by the harbor, eating a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich at a dive diner, sorting through vintage records at a local music store, sipping a vodka and cranberry in a hip, noisy DC bar, laying in bed trying to stay awake all night to savor the last few moments of the trip, on an almost missed flight home, and for days and weeks after, the words played like a refrain in my head and made me wonder.

Aside from the obvious environmental statement, what was the larger implication? Is all lost? Are all the things I really want beyond my reach? For all my general cynicism about life, I couldn't believe that was true. The world may be a mess, but everything will work out for me won't it?! Attempting to comfort myself by cataloguing all the things that were not in fact lost, led me to the blinding question: What am I looking for anyway? What do I want? Only things I can't have? What about love, happiness, contentment--are these things floating further from me on a current too rapid for me to swim? Never, of course not, I told myself, even as I've watched concrete examples of those larger goals drift away from me.

Since then, whether I'm subconsciously looking or not, those words have arisen in a thousand other ways and set me on the conscious search for the "what" that I don't want to inadvertantly lose. What things, ideas, people are worth throwing myself into the current for, and when it comes down to it, do I have the courage to take the metaphorical plunge?

Hmmm...well, The End? More later, perhaps.


Making and Breaking the Rules

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of rules. They are fine for others, I suppose, but when they directly inhibit me, no thank you. After seeing the book The Rules mentioned on Sex and the City, I glanced through it one day in the book store. It seemed so old-fashioned and ridiculous to impose those kinds of rules on our social interactions with men. At the time it confirmed my negative feelings about the "rules" of dating. Until recently. I realized that all of us, whether we've sat down to analyze it or not, have our own set of dating guidelines, ones that make perfect sense to us and more often than not baffle those around us.

About two weeks ago, I went out with some friends and acquaintances where I made a new acquaintance who asked for my phone number at the end of the evening. I usually don't give out my number to near strangers, but this one was unusually cute and despite his slightly goofy demeanor seemed sincere. The kicker is that I actually sort of hoped he'd call. 72 hours, the time I arbitrarily set as the appropriate amount of time between meeting and calling (not over eager, not so long I forgot who you are), came and went. When the next Saturday--day 7--rolled around, I officially wrote him off. No hard feelings; people ask for numbers they ultimately decide against using all the time. Fast forward three more days to day 10, Tuesday night. A strange phone number appears on the caller ID, so I screen as per usual. A voice mail registers. It's from Mr. 10 Days Ago. He wants to get together. He makes NO mention of how much time has passed. He leaves his number for me to call him back if I'm interested. The End.

I am stunned by this latest development! It just isn't done. Who does he think he is? (Who do I think I am?...someone who gets called in 72 hours, apparently). Doesn't he know how this stuff works? Is he dating-challenged? While I was debating the to call or not to call back issue, I started thinking about all the games people play, if not to openly manipulate others, then to keep them firmly in line. There are rules for how soon to call, whether or not to answer, when to return call, what to wear if you go out, where to go, when to hook up, how to act if he forgets your birthday, etc, etc. The games go on and on and on.

I'm not writing in favor of obliterating the rules. As much as I'd love to advocate transparency and forthrightness, it's never going to happen on a grand scale. I might be forthright, but how do I know you are, or for that matter, how do you know my forthrightness isn't an act? All games have rules, even if it's only so we can cheat them later on. And dating is a game isn't it, at least in the opening stages of the match? Is it one competitor scoping out another, looking for a worthy contender for our affections, or at the very least, someone worthy of three hours of our time on a Friday night? Why don't we call the very next morning after we meet someone interesting? Because then the other person would know we are crazy about them and might even be turned off by the overzealous way we've played our hand. I'm just postulating here, but the very nature of the game it seems is to keep the other player intrigued and a little off balance.

So who wins you ask? Well, if the two become a couple, probably no one. It's a truce where both players eventually shake hands and say "Well played, well played." They've met their match. If the two stop seeing each other after a few dates, one player must have found the other wanting in some respect. He/she just couldn't keep up, couldn't meet the demands of the game. Cynical? Maybe. But the beauty of the game and its splendidly confusing rules is that it's not static; the rules can be changed, bent, or broken at a moment's notice and reinvent the entire playing field. We are drawn to the excitement of the challenge, the hunt, the gamble--all the elements that early romance is built on. I love the game and hate it, sometimes simultaneously.

Where will my interpretation of the rules take me in this case? I'm not calling back for at least 24 hours.


When conversations become blogs...

I was talking to an old friend the other night about her boyfriend problems. A long story short, she made him aware of something about the relationship that troubled her, only to have him respond negatively. "I made myself vulnerable, and what did I get? Confrontation!" she complained. It got me thinking about the nature of vulnerability and when in life we learn the possibility of being hurt by it in our relationships. Why is sharing ourselves, opening up if you will, so difficult even in long standing relationships?

It seems as though we share the positive things easily--the things that make us happy, what provides pleasure--even when those things are silly. It's mildly embarrassing that I can't get enough of cheesy dance movies, but that's a cute quirk at worst. No one has stopped calling me because of my obsession. But what about the negative? What we struggle to keep back are the negative feelings--what causes hurt, sadness, self-consciousness. Surely there are people who have never experienced a great degree of this in their relationships, those unselfconscious souls who share energetically with those they are close to. But honestly, I know about two of those people.

The rest of us live much more guardedly. Are we all jaded cynics or is defense of our soft-spots just the way life has to be? Isn't that what the whole concept of love is built on--the idea that somewhere out there is another soul who will love us no matter how twisted or weird we are, that they will be just as strange, and we'll live out our lives together in the equilibrium of mutual oddity?

What my friend and I decided was the worst of it was that theres really no way around vulnerability. In the bonding process at the beginning of a relationship (or even friendships), we have to share with each other. We start small with the superficial; "I like to eat giant bowls of chocolate chip ice cream while I watch horror movies," or "I once cracked my head open during a bicycle accident when I was 10." But sooner or later, usually before the direction or potential longevity of the relationship is clear, we have to begin stripping ourselves. Think about how exciting it is to be on the receiving end of this experience; it's a tease, it's seductive, we can't wait to find out the next thing about this person. And the fear is similar I think to literally taking one's clothes off, losing all the camouflage. No one wants to stand (either literally or metaphorically) before the object of his/her desire , exposed to whatever degree and have him/her say, "Ewww!"

But it's a risk we all take eventually if we want to grow together. The older we get, the more and more difficult it becomes. Psychologists often say that we learn our first model of relationships in our families--what we can/cant do, say or feel and the consequences of breaking those expectations. Maybe repeated phrases like, "Nobody likes a whiner" keep us from sharing legitimate frustrations with future partners. And then there are phrases that most women can relate to: "Nice girls dont..." Just fill in the blanks and think of all the pieces of ourselves that we've held back at the risk of seeming "un-lady-like." Not to discriminate, males are under just as much pressure. What about all those social norms about providing, being competitive, or not crying? Millions follow these roles at their own expense. Even the enlightened among us at some point struggle with the norms weve been taught. I've heard versions of the following from almost all my friends at one time or another: "Does she think I'm too sensitive?" "Does he think I'm a freak because I want sex more often than he does?" "Is she turned off because I make less money than she does?" "Will he date me if he finds out I'm a feminist?" And the examples could go on and on.

And if we fear these differences enough, we will hide them and hide behind our defenses to avoid being called out or rejected because of them. We've all had these techniques reinforced by past relationships that didn't work out. From the superficial--"Well, I LOVE camping, so obviously this will never work out"--to more hurtful proclamations of our supposed deficiencies--"You're too obsessed with work," "You don't share your feelings enough," "You just dont excite me anymore"--leaving that person thinking, "Great, I'm not outdoorsy enough, I'm not relaxed enough, I'm too shy, I'm too fat/thin/old, etc."

We carry these insecurities right along with us into our future relationships and do our best to conceal them, afraid that if it gets out that we don't like baseball or are slow to bond with our partners friends that he/she will kick us to the curb. By doing that, we are limiting the relationship because we are really imposing limitations on what we believe the other person is capable of. By never giving him/her the chance to truly know us, we are missing out. And then we wonder fruitlessly why our relationships are so superficial, or we blame the other person for not caring enough.

I'm not advocating sharing with wild abandon on the first date or even the third--"Hi, nice to meet you! I fear spiders and abandonment. What are you going to order for dinner?" But when the partner is worthy, we can start sharing in good faith. How do we determine the worthy? That's the trick; we don't really know, but as the give and take continues and the trust builds, we can begin letting go of more and more.

I don't know about you, but in new relationships (or friendships), I've come to recognize the ingrained fears that arise, not because of anything this person has done but because of past experience. The true issue, the real potential for personal growth comes when after we hit the wall of our own pre-formed limits, we can identify that the person in question has not been the one responsible for offending our vulnerability and we can go beyond ourselves and give that person a fresh opportunity to know us.

My friend Mel (a wise, wise woman) once said, 99% of relationships end in breakup, as we only marry (or long-term commit) to about 1% of the people we date. That said, theres no guarantee of success when we share ourselves; just because we share our deepest fear with someone doesnt mean he/she will be there in ten years or even ten minutes. But if the possible goal of human existence is to know god, know others and know ourselves, and ironically, we grow in each category by practicing the other two, then isn't the potential worth the risk? Isn't the experience of the journey greater than the ending? Rather than seeing vulnerability as weakness, can't we see it as a tool of flexibility to become more and more ourselves whatever the nature of our relationships? It's a growth process into balance...I won't become transparent with my loved ones over night. But this is a theme that has recurred in conversations I've had recently, and I'm genuinely interested learning how to present my true self and knowing others for who they really are as well.



I've been thinking (both surprising and frightening, I know)...Why is changing so often looked on as being a negative thing?

The thoughts began in class on Monday. I was showing a couple of episodes of the Morgan Spurlock documentary 30 Days that aired on FX last summer. He and other participants spend 30 days in the life of another culture, often cultures that the participant has strong feelings about. In one episode, a Midwestern farm boy goes to live in Castro district San Francisco with a gay roommate. In another a Christian man from Virginia spends 30 days with a Muslim family from Michigan. Neither man changed drastically (in my opinion). Both got to experience first hand what it was like to be the minority or an outsider in the community. They got to know the value of individuals over group labels and stereotypes.

What surprised me was the reaction from the class. "How is he going to go live with a gay guy for 30 days and suddenly change his views on homosexuality," one student said. "That's pretty wishy-washy, if you ask me." Another student piped up, "Yeah, I would never change my mind about what I've been taught growing up." I cringed inwardly (and probably outwardly too). I can't think of anything more frightening than the inability to shift our view points in the face of new, compelling information and experience. Where does this difference in perspective come from? Why do some people look at the mutability of ideas as a personality flaw while others see adapting to new information as a sign of maturity?

The same topic was covered briefly in a book I just finished reading, The Road Less Traveled. The author, M. Scott Peck discussed how growing as whole individuals is a primary goal of human existence and that to do so requires self-discipline. One of those disciplines is the willingness to undergo the discomfort or outright pain of a continually growing and shifting map of reality (what we ourselves know to be true). He believes that the refusal to evolve our beliefs as we gain new insights results in a stunted growth process and at worst actual neurosis. I have to admit I agree.

I won't pretend changing one's mind or situation is simple or comfortable. It's not. I've found myself mired in unproductive or painful patterns of thinking or acting that I knew were harmful but continued because they were more comfortable than change. Especially when change involved conflict. If a way of thinking or acting isn't productive, I want to have the strength to walk away from it regardless of what others think. I never want to shrug my shoulders in defeat and say, "I guess that's just who I am." This kind of process probably takes a lifetime...or two or three.

However, when I've made changes in my perceptions or lifestyle, I've never asked others to make those changes with me. I have no illusions that what is right for me is always right for someone else, but it seems that those people who are adverse to change see change in others as a silent attack on themselves. For example, and this is a minor one, when I became a vegetarian, many of my friends and family reacted as though my not eating meat was somehow a personal affront. One friend in particular said, "You've become this totally different person who I don't even feel like I know any more." And this is obviously a negative thing.
But to me it isn't. Yes, there are a few core values that positive growth won't compromise: honesty, searching for truth, learning, loving and caring for others. Beyond that I hope to always be evolving and growing mentally, emotionally and spiritually. My approach to making those core values more and more a part of my life might shift, slightly or radically. Thus friendship takes effort. I won't be the person you knew last year; hopefully I'll be a better one, and a better friend or family member because of it. I want my true friends and family to stay connected and be there to experience each other's growth and appreciate and support the "new" who that we are on a daily basis.

It's not for me to judge the change in others. I won't look at a friend who has made a fresh committment to be a better person and say, "We'll see if she goes back to her old ways in a week or so." It doesn't even matter if I deem the change of opinion or lifestyle "important" or "valuable." It doesn't matter if I even fully understand their motivations or reasoning. All I can be is an encouragement to the growth process. And I know the people who are closest to me would do (and have done) the same for me.


Feminist Manifesto...Read at your own risk

So last night, I was at a friend's house, the television was on, it was the final episode of that god-awful reality show the Bachelor. We were drinking and chatting and suddenly I looked up to see one of the women on the show (my "favorite" in the five seconds I'd seen of it) sobbing in the back of the limo after having been rejected. This is what she said, "The good girls always win. I'm just not the girl you take home to mom. I told him I didn't 'need' him but that I certainly wanted him to be in my life...I shouldn't have said that."

I was appalled, first that we were viewing what should have been someone else's private grief billed as entertainment and then that she felt like she had to be something she wasn't to "win" this guy (who seemed like an indecisive moron--in the five seconds i saw). Then we all started talking...Is that true? Are we all supposed to morph from wonderfully unique and interesting individuals into the suburban soccer moms and mini-van dads when we turn 30? What does it mean to be a "good girl" anyway? Does it mean wide-eyed agreement with everything that comes out the guy's mouth and passing it off as my own beliefs? And what about this "needing vs. wanting" bit? If I am a strong individual who enjoys her life and is capable of doing so regardless of her romantic situation, do I have to stroke the male ego and say that "need" him, "can't live without him"? Isn't it more honest to say that I "want" someone in my life? Then I'm making a choice to love and include someone as opposed to being forced to be with him b/c I'm too incomplete to function on my own.

So obviously "reality" tv isn't real life, but as we talked, we came up with many more examples that supported the above views than non-traditional couples. I haven't actually stopped thinking about it yet (thus the writing about it). If that's what relationships are really like, televised or not, that's pathetic...the (small) part of me that is an optomist would like to believe that there are men in the world who appreciate a woman who knows who she is and what she wants and is willing to stand up for her own beliefs and opinions. With that woman, a man could have a partner in life as opposed to a little adoring wife. Loving doesn't mean losing myself in the other person to the point that I could not fuction alone. Being devoted doesn't mean that I won't call the other person out when I think he's wrong. In my opinion, a good relationship always has push and pull that balances out into something like harmony. If someone doesn't challenge me, what's the point of being with him? I guess that's the flip side; some people want to only be petted and comforted and have no willingness to grow or experience new things, and for them, the kind of person I described above would be vicious and intimidating.

So enough rambling...It takes all kinds of people to make couples, and as long as they are happy with their situations, that's super. But here's hoping that there are at least a few of the open-minded, independent male variety left!




Travel is not good for me...If I'm stuck behind the same desk, drinking at the same pubs, staring blankly at the same landmarks, the wild desire to throw a few clothes (okay a lot of clothes) into a suitcase and hop the first plane to anywhere else subsides to a liveable level. But if perchance, I get out...there's almost no going back to routine.

What is strange is that I remember thinking at several different points on the trip that the things I saw and felt were similar to the things I already knew: I laughed, I pouted, I drank too much caffine, I felt nervous, I deprived myself of sleep...all the things I do here. The side streets in New York could just as easily have been in Chicago. The drivers in Philly were as rude and clueless as those in St. Louis. The icy wind bit at my cheeks and nose there just as it did when I walked across the airport parking lot on the way home.

I am the same person no matter where I go. People are people all over the world. Even the landscapes don't change that much. What's exciting is the prospect that it might be, that I'll be a new and better version of myself, that I'll meet new people who change my life, that I'll see something unimaginably beautiful or unique. I want to experience life like a child at the petting zoo--I want to see, touch, smell, taste, hear everything for myself.

Then a trip becomes an adventure, an exploration. One bus ride crawling through rush hour traffic is not the same as another, Every face stands out from the hundreds around it. French fries at a Chelsea McDonalds somehow taste saltier and more satisfying than ever before.
Back home again, sliding between the crisp, familiar sheets of my very own bed, turning on the fan to drown out the street noise and whispering good night to the kitten curled up on my pillow, I know I'm not the same as when I left. I am filled with the exhilleration of new experience. I crave change...always desiring to evolve, to see the world expand a few more degrees even if it is in my own backyard, in some heretofore unexplored corner of the park or a shop in whose window I've never peered.

The seed of wander-lust has been replanted...what it will grow into, I can only imagine.


Feedback for Brainstorming

Okay...Here's the deal. Every spring the College of Arts and Sciences hosts a colloquium w/ a particular theme (obviously) and years past, I've made a practice of submitting a proposal. This year's theme is "Thinking about Religion". So, I've been tossing around some ideas. Just wanted some feedback...Is this a direction worth heading? Is it too broad? Too cliche? Would love to hear what you all think.

The very general catagory for my paper would be "Feminism and Religion: Can the Two Coexist?"

My research question would be something like this: "Through the eyes of female participants, to what extent does (insert religion--still haven't decided on one--might use several) either empower or suppress women devotees through its doctrines, and how does this affect women's views of the religion and themselves as females?"

Importance of the Question: "Celebration of spirituality is an important part of many people's lives, including women, but even modern religion often cotinues to detract from feminine empowerment while reaffirming the patriarchy in obvious or subtle ways, leading women with strong feelings about independence to either reject religion or continue to participate although they feel the religion fails to reflect their true values."

Some things I still have to clarify are: 1. What will my definition of "feminism" be for the purpose of the paper, and is this even something that is possible to put a concise and agreed upon definition to? 2. Decide on a particular religion (or decide to use several), and research extensively or pick ones I am qualified to speak about. 3. Perhaps search for female writers (fiction or non-fiction) who participate in a religion and write about their impressions of themselves as empowered women in relationship to their religion. 4. Is the problem a question of the definition of "feminism," or is the more traditionally minded woman simply more likely to embrace religion? 5. How do these problems change across religions?

I have a couple of approaches in mind: I could use literature (both fiction and non-fiction), I could interview real women and/or do a survey, or I could do a mixture of both....
Anyway, this is what I've come up w/ so far w/out having done any actual research. Comments are welcome and appreciated!!!


For your reading pleasure

Since I don't actually write much in the way of poetry anymore, i thought you all might enjoy a little Anne Sexton for a Friday.

The Black Art--Anne Sexton
A woman who writes feels too much,
those trances and portents!
As if cycles and children and islands
weren't enough; as if mourners and gossips
and vegetables were never enough.
She thinks she can warn the stars.
A writer is essentially a spy.
Dear love, I am that girl.

A man who writes knows too much,
such spells and fetiches!
As if erections and congresses and products
weren't enough; as if machines and galleons
and wars were never enough.
With used furniture he makes a tree.
A writer is essentially a crook.
Dear love, you are that man.
Never loving ourselves,
hating even our shoes and our hats,
we love each other, precious, precious.
Our hands are light blue and gentle.
Our eyes are full of terrible confessions.
But when we marry,
the children leave in disgust.
There is too much food and no one left over
to eat up all the weird abundance.


Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner

Tonight...oh tonight is my very last dance class. For those of you who haven't heard me rave about dance class in person, my friend Jamie and I convinced our awesome and oh so open-minded male friends Hugh and Neil to take Latin Ballroom dance classes with us at SIUE's leisure learning center. Now, I'll be honest...I can shake my stuff on a crowded dance floor after a few cocktails, but I have never in my life attempted choreographed dancing. This has not stopped me from being obssessed with dance and watching many an hour of cheezy dance flick wondering if I'll ever get the chance to do a flying lift at the end of season talent show at a 50's family resort (Dirty Dancing reference, kids, come on).

So at first I sucked it up. Fortunately my partner has all the style and grace of Diego Luna (only less Latin), and together we counted out our quick, quick, slows (or hmhm, hmhm, hmhm, as he usually says) and have become quite the performers. We can do the box step (and the rhumba) like nobody's business.

Our teacher is another story...Ms. Magenta we call her b/c she almost always wears a magenta pants suit. And yes, this is because she is also approximately 80; I swear that's not an exaggeration. But the lady can move, let me tell you. She also watches like a hawk and corrects mistaken steps incessantly. I thought we were gone-ers when by the end of the first class she had informed my partner that he should put a R and a L on his shoes to help him keep things straight and told me, "What's the matter with you? Can't you think backwards?" when I couldn't quite get the step.

I usually quit things I suck at: basketball, journalism, martial arts...some relationships probably even fall into this category...but even though I'm sure I looked like a fool most of the six weeks, I've kept going, and my very indulgent partner has tried to make me look as elegant as is possible. I'd have to say I'm pretty proud of all four of us. Our "professional" debut will be at Viva in a couple of weeks.

I'm so sad that it's all ending many groups of friends get together every week at the same time without a reason like dance class? I'm definitely going to miss making up our own dance moves when we couldn't keep up, analyzing everything on the car ride home with Jamie, and the ocassional after party at Chewy's or Blue Hill. The next enstallment of self-improvement--Belly dancing....maybe.


Happy Rosa Parks Day

So today is the anniversary of Rosa Parks decision not to give up her bus seat to a white man. And, unlike most people tell the story, I recently learned that she did not refuse to get up because she was too tired after having worked all day. In an interview with NPR that she gave several months before her death, she said that she was indeed tired but desire for social change more than weariness kept her from getting up. And a small decision, a small stand for change, fueled a much large movement for change. It's amazing! It gives me hope that social change of all types is still possible if people take the time to do their part. Not to rant, but it's been on my mind for awhile, especially in the classes I teach: there is so very little concept of social justice left in the average person's mind. My students seem to think that the world works a certain way and that there's nothing they can do about it so why try.

You don't even have to be an African-American to appreciate what Parks did. As a woman, I appreciate that she didn't leave the work of civil rights to men or politicians or anyone else; she saw what needed to be done and got involved. She was a true example of feminism, which oddly enough is another topic that keeps coming up lately (and I swear I'm not the one always bringing it up). Most people, women included, seem to have a pretty misguided or shallow view of feminism. Feminism is not about hating men. Feminism is not about wearing socks and Birks and not shaving. Feminism is not about telling a woman what she must do with her future. Equality and the opportunity to choose from any number of options is the name of the game. Can we really hate the group we want to become equal with? Don't hate the man; hate the ingrained cultural ideas about women that have been passed on for millinea. And you can wear whatever you want as long as it's for yourself...I'll be honest--I like a good lip gloss and enjoy having shaven legs :) And unlike a good friend of mine thinks, as a feminist, I'm not condemning a woman's choice to be a stay-at-home mother if she so chooses. That's what the modern feminist movement was all about--giving women options. As long as an individual gives back to the world in some way...And we've come full circle back to having a social conscience.

I'm not sure this blog would pass as completely coherent, but those are some of the issues that have been on my mind the last few days. I'll sit back now and wait for the controversy I'm sure will ensue.