Monthly Archives: January 2017

To A Woman

I always wrote poetry, at least occasionally. I wrote this piece over 15 years ago. I sent it around to a few publishers on a lark (MS magazine being one of them; I don’t remember where else). Nothing happened with it whatsoever. I read it again this morning. It’s different from anything else I’ve written. Unfortunately, I think it’s as relevant today – I mean I could have written it this week. If anything, things may be worse. 

 

To A Woman

You’re going to die you know
and it’s going to be horrible.

Did you get a pap smear?
Did you get a mammogram?
You’ll feel something cold.
It will just pinch a little.

Better get your calcium,
Don’t you want good bones?
Osteoporosis.
Weight-bearing exercise.
Get to a gym.

Eat your fiber.
Eat your broccoli.
I’ll bet you forgot your B12.

Heart disease kills most of you.
Have you exercised?
Eat fats, but not the wrong ones.
Looks like you need to brush up on nutrition.

Relax!
Don’t you know you should slow down?
Meditate, get some crystals, play music.
You’re too tense, take some herbs.

You’re going to die you know
and it’s going to be horrible.

What’s that suspicious lump?
Better watch that mole.
Got too much sun in the 70’s didn’t you?

Don’t let people walk on you.
Don’t be aggressive.
Get along for god’s sake.
What’s wrong with you?!

You’re not going to walk around like that are you?
Cover up that gray.
Get a nice set of implants.
Man those hips are wide.
Who’s going to love you.

Soy beans!
Magnesium!
No salt!
No sugar!

Are you laughing?
It’s good for you.
Smile!
Surely you can find something amusing.

You’re going to die you know
and it’s going to be horrible.

Lead poisoning, asbestos, carbon monoxide.
Ozone, global warming, nuclear destruction.
Don’t you know?!
It’s hard to believe you’ve come this far this naïve.

Cultivate great relationships!
Take a class!
Renew yourself!
Why are you watching TV?!

Take the stairs not the elevator.
Do subtle exercises at your desk.
Get up and walk around every 15 minutes.
You can do these things if you really want to.

The only thing stopping you is you.
Everyone can be a success.
You have the wrong attitude.

Put those chips down.
A second martini?
Candy? Are you out of your mind?!

You’re going to die you know
and it’s going to be horrible.

Men.
Don’t just wait for the ones that come to you.
Only wait for the ones that come to you.
Try lesbianism, you’re not a prude are you?

Be sexy, but don’t threaten anybody.
Be smart, but not too smart.
Don’t be funny.

Stand up straight.
Be proportioned.
Don’t be too heavy.
Don’t be too thin.

Be pretty.
But not so pretty the other girls don’t like you.
Not pretty?
Get a nose job, develop confidence, get a good hair cut.

Drink 8 glasses of water.
Take your multi.
Protein, carbs, iron, get them.
Not too much, not too little.

You’re going to die you know
and it’s going to be horrible.

Tumors.
They’re just waiting.
Liver, lungs, bone.
Throat, breast, brain.
Chemo, radiation, self-healing.
Better choose the right one.

Floss, brush, rinse.
32% of women over 70 have no teeth left.
Don’t forget your jaw is a bone!
Do you want to end up gumming your food?

Blood pressure.
Cholesterol.
HIV screening.
Bone density.
You’re getting all these checked aren’t you?

Retinol-A.
Alpha Hydroxy.
Moisturizer.
How about a skin peel?
You’re looking kind of haggard.

Be successful at work.
Don’t be too successful.
Ask for what you’re worth.
Don’t be a bitch.

You’re going to die you know
and it’s going to be horrible.

Be a good neighbor.
Go along to get along.
Don’t be disagreeable.
No one likes a boat-rocker.

A second cup of coffee?
Sour cream on your baked potato?
Buttered popcorn?
You haven’t heard a word have you?

Shave.
Wax.
Bleach.
Sugar.
Electrolysis.
Just hurts a little.

Stressed.
Depressed.
Unhappy.
Proxac.
Zoloft.
St. John’s Wort.

Take a hot bubble bath.
Try a new eye shadow.
Read a classic.
Take a walk.

You’re going to die you know
and it’s going to be horrible.

Look out!
Don’t go out alone.
Be careful who you talk to.
Don’t encourage anyone.
Danger is everywhere.

Did you lock your car?
Bolt your door?
Take self-defense?
Look confident?
But not challenging?

Don’t neglect your spirituality!
Church, yoga, inner peace.
Come on!
It’s important in this stressful world.

Life is short.
Don’t waste time.
Think you’ve got forever?
Well you don’t.

Investments, savings, IRAs, mutual funds.
Of course you have them.
You don’t want to be old, alone, and poor do you?
That’s what’ll happen.
Hung out to dry.

You’re going to die you know
and it’s going to be horrible.

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Things Men Have Said To Me (#28)

The recent term “alternative facts” regarding how many people attended the inauguration reminded me of something said to me long ago.

He was a new friend. I knew he got high but that’s not my thing. He was visiting one afternoon and we were having a discussion – I forget about what – and he said something questionable that I then challenged. He became somewhat indignant and offered a swift rejoinder.

HIM: “It’s a factual fact.

That’s when I realized he was stoned.

We didn’t stay friends but to this day I trot out his words when I think my words need that little extra emphasis.

I’m bringing sexy (or something like it) back

Like a lot of people I am less active in winter. I don’t belong to a gym – never have – so this means I have to find ways to keep moving, to keep exercising, usually outdoors. Long walks, bike rides and so on, suffice, but geez-o-flip, it’s COLD and WINDY and UNPLEASANT outside. Plus, it’s BORING out, nothing much to see. There are so many more interesting things to look at in nice weather, flowers and birds and people doing stuff.

I’m not sure why a mini trampoline or “rebounder” caught my eye on Amazon last month. Was I looking at hand weights and saw one advertised? I don’t know now. I didn’t understand them, let’s start there. A rebounder?? What was that? I’d never been on a trampoline, not in childhood, not as an adult. I’m pretty sure my parents would have considered trampolines dangerous and I never had the opportunity to bounce on one anywhere else, be it school or at a friend’s house.

I liked the idea of JUMPING just fine. What kid doesn’t have a go at jumping up and down on their bed until they get yelled at to stop?

As I am wont to do, I started reading customer reviews and doing research about the benefits of using a mini trampoline. There are even videos. Some people take “rebounding” VERY SERIOUSLY. I liked what I saw. Trampolines are considered easy on the joints, suitable for any age, and give a good aerobic workout, plus some other high-falutin’ claims about cleaning out your lymphatic system that you can surely read about if you decide to look into it yourself.

I don’t have room for exercise equipment beyond hand weights and pushup bars. There’s nowhere for a treadmill or rowing machine. Unless I got rid of my bed. Or the couch. Or the refrigerator. At just 3 feet across, the mini trampoline appealed for its “low profile.” I know all too well if you store something like this (as opposed to say, a chocolate cake or a massage chair) away where it’s inconvenient, it’s out of sight and  out of mind.

There are two types of mini trampolines, one with metal springs and another with bands. I opted to go with one with bands because it cost less and apparently ones with springs are noisy (and I want to be considerate of neighbors, even when they aren’t considerate of me AHEM). My thinking was if I spent around $20 on a low-end Stamina model and found I liked it, I could always upgrade down the line.

Balance is one of the things that begin to decline in middle age. I truly didn’t know how I’d be at jumping. One suggestion online was that you needn’t even have your feet leave the trampoline surface; you could just move in place and get some benefit. Some of the models come with “balance bars” that you can hang onto while jumping. I figured even if I wasn’t comfortable really jumping, any movement would be better than nothing.

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When I first tried my trampoline, I was tentative, afraid of falling through it even though I don’t weigh much. I told myself that even if it broke it probably wouldn’t break all at once and send me flying onto my face on the floor but in stages that I’d notice. The next day, when I put the radio on, and Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back” came on the radio, I had gotten over my tentativeness. I was jumping baby! Hop, hop, hop. It felt good. I was bustin’ some moves. Justin and I were bringing sexy back. “Them other boys don’t know how to act. YEAH!”

Is it fun? Yeah, yeah, it is, certainly as compared to other exercises. It’s suggested that you start with short intervals, gradually increasing your time. At this point I set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes and jump away. I mix it up, sometimes jumping up and down, sometimes running in place, or maybe doing little side steps. There are exercises online but I haven’t found the need to look them up yet. Right now, I know I’m getting an aerobic workout and doing something good for myself.

Finding a place to stow in when not in use was a challenge but I came up with this. I moved the couch/love seat out from the wall, leaving just enough room for the trampoline. The slight rearrangement made the living room seating area cozier and more intimate too. Who knew?

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I want to share one more winter thing I do each year to help make sure I don’t let my fitness levels slide too far off. A couple times a winter I try on my “keep me honest shorts” to make sure I can still get into them. It’s a lot easier to STAY in shape over winter than to try to get back there on the first nice day in spring when you want to wear shorts!

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Can’t hide in these “keep me honest shorts”

What older sisters should be

My sisters were all older but they didn’t do the things that I’ve become wise to (over the passing decades) that older sisters are supposed to do. They did not teach me how to put on makeup, or how to do dance steps, or tell me anything helpful about boys. They didn’t give me good advice, or show me how to knit, or teach me to read. They did not buffet me from the chaos and drama that infused our household, or model admirable character, or guide me in how to live successfully. It goes on like that.

But here’s the thing. When I’ll being fair and looking at the whole scene, I know nobody did all of that for them either; they could not embody for me what no one had embodied for them. Their strongest influence was our mother. It was up to her to show her older daughters how to lead her younger ones, whether by her own example or by instruction. She did not.

But here’s the bigger thing. My sisters loved me. I never doubted that. Whatever else they lacked, wherever they fell short in my eyes, they loved me. That love was something I hung my hat on for a long time. It was love I returned. It made so much difference. When I look back at the gaps and what my sisters were not, I make sure I remember that too.

Ideas from my organized (small) kitchen

I’ve been on a de-cluttering and organizing kick. I do both regularly but winter is a particularly good time to focus on home projects plus I was sick this past week and I think the slight fever spurred me to make changes (Good news: it was only a cold. Bad news: that’s because I already had the flu this winter. Boo, hiss.).

Today I want to show you the small, galley-style kitchen. My biggest challenge is finding storage space; for instance there is only ONE drawer and it’s for silverware. Over the years I’ve worked to make the kitchen  attractive and organized; most of these photos reflect fixes that have been in place a long time, but I did a couple things this last week. Lack of space means a lot of things stay out in the open; the trick is to have them out but still looking nice, not a cluttery mess. Of course, in a kitchen, it’s helpful to have certain items that you reach for often out where you can get them quickly anyway.

Now this makes me PROUD. See this below? It’s a mostly EMPTY SHELF.

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I am impressed with myself! There’s never been an empty shelf in the kitchen. At first I thought there’d been a mistake – whatever was supposed to go there must just be momentarily elsewhere. But no – I accounted for everything and STILL had an empty shelf! You just don’t know – storage is at a real premium here and an empty shelf means I’ve rid myself of enough stuff and/or got so organized it created extra space. Immediately I’ve begun to plot what could go there….  What new kitchen thingee could I get?

Within that cabinet, I used scrap wood to make the little shelf with coffee mugs at the back. It’s just 4″ deep so it doesn’t interfere with putting things in front of it. I like that it’s solid wood, not one of those flimsy wire shelves you can buy which would be too wide anyway. I was thinking of making another to put vitamin bottles at the back of another cabinet. Such a simple thing but it frees up a lot of cabinet space.

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In the kitchen my weakness is hanging onto potential storage containers, especially glass jars. See, I think glass jars are going obsolete. I’m worried about it. Plastic crap only? Noooo. I tended to squirrel away containers in a variety of places but no more. Here are my extra containers and glass jars, the ones I am allowing myself to keep for now, in one place. (The blue ones are mushroom containers. They seem like they could be USEFUL for something…) I can store them like this on an out-of-way shelf where it doesn’t show.

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I made the spice rack and cup holder below out of scrap wood and attached them to the bottom of the cabinets. I got the glass tiles for free from a Freecycler and made the backsplash. It’s a “busy” looking area but since it’s organized, it doesn’t look messy. If one of the hanging utensils hasn’t been used in awhile, I give it a quick wash or rinse before using it, same with the cups. The red cabinet knobs? I painted those and attached them to the doors which formerly had no knobs at all. I like red accents in a kitchen. To create more light inexpensively I added a slim plug-in under-cabinet light over the sink.

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Below is a close-up to show you the “kitchen cloth” that hangs on a chopstick – yep a plastic chopstick sitting in as a tiny dowel – that hangs from hooks.

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Formerly I had a long shelf over the window with storage type things on it. Appliances that didn’t get used often, a dutch oven, a box of untried recipes. It wasn’t very attractive. I always thought there just wasn’t space to have decorations in the kitchen – only room for “useful” stuff – but that area  seemed ideal for decorating. This week I found other places for those items, sawed down the shelf to fit only the 42″ over the window and brought in decorative pieces that had been elsewhere. I love it. I haven’t decided if the shelf should ultimately be white but for now this is fine.

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To the right of the over-the-window shelf is another scrap-wood project. I have always liked the look of food in glass jars, maybe just because I like being able to look at food. The top shelf holds peanut jars I hung onto (see? I was smart to start sitting on glass jars years ago!) that are excellent for storage. Yes, I eat a lot of peanuts. What’s good about this unit too is that it is high up on the wall in space that would otherwise go unused. Before this week the top of the unit was one of the spots I stuck unused glass jars but no more! It too holds decorative pieces. That Saltine can has been moved all around but now has its home.

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This is a little Ikea cabinet that came from a yard sale for $5. I painted the doors red, turned it UPSIDE DOWN and anchored it to the end of the existing cabinets.

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Look at all the stuff it holds!  One day I’d like to make a glass-doored cabinet to display my pretty bowls but for now they live in here. That’s a 1-cup measuring cup on the lowest shelf to give you a sense of size.

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This next shelf isn’t exciting but I am pleased with it nonetheless; it’s one I put in this past summer over the entry way to the kitchen (on the inside looking out). More glass jars! I use those two bigger-than-they-look jars ALL the time (to soak dry beans overnight, for soups, etc). Good place for lunch bags too. Again what’s great is this is space which would otherwise go unused. As you can imagine I regularly eye any unused space with a thought to what might go there.

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Finally, this is under-the-stairs. Pictured is one of those plant/flower holders people put on the outside of their homes. I found this one thrown out, painted it red, and hung it up here to hold kitchen towels. This is also where I keep brooms and buckets hanging from cup hooks.

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Remember kids, don’t throw rocks

When I was a girl I loved tennis. I just took to it. I haven’t played in a long time. I’m afraid that in order to play now I’d have to wrap so many body parts – wrists, elbows, knees – I’d look like a tennis-playing mummy. Anyway, when I was young I’d often go to the “backboard” to lobby a ball back and forth to myself. The backboard was actually a wall to the local swimming pool so that poorly lobbed balls went over the fence and into the pool. In season someone might throw the ball back to you, but for nine months out of the year if your ball went over that wall it was gone.

There was one time, I remember it as being nice weather, somewhere in the spring to early fall range, when I went to hit tennis balls against the backboard. Lying on the grass nearby was a man I knew as “Animal.” Animal – that was the name his pals called him – wasn’t any friend of mine or anything. He was a man for one thing (which could have meant he was 18 or 20 or 24 for all I know) and I only recognized him because the community was small and he was a loudmouth who was often out and about. Another kid had told me that Animal had killed somebody and “buried him at the lake.” The veracity of that tale seemed unlikely. Asleep in the grass, he wasn’t a loudmouth or killing anybody this day.

He was probably drunk and passed out. I’d seen people drinking and even drunk but I had no recollection of seeing anyone passed out before so I didn’t immediately understand that was what was amiss. I cannot tell you, scaredy-cat that I was, why I didn’t just leave and go home. Maybe I wanted to play tennis too badly. Maybe I wasn’t alarmed because he was quiet and not bothering anybody. I don’t know.

Two girls I knew, twin sisters, who were about 3 years younger than me, came along and decided it would be a good idea to start throwing rocks at Animal. I don’t know what possessed them. I think they were trying to wake him up. Or just having a little sport. Where they got the nerve I had no clue. I sure would have never thrown rocks at a grown man passed out in the grass. When they got bored, the sisters stopped and wandered off. It occurred to me then that I had best move along too because if Animal woke up he might think I was the one who’d been pelting him with rocks.

Short Thought 175 (bitches and assholes)

When I was younger and in conversation, and a man said of himself, “I can be a real asshole sometimes,” or a woman would volnteer that she could “be a real bitch sometimes,” I’d usually ask what they meant by that, looking for a little more explanation. I no longer ask anything. I just take them at their word – and worse.