Monday, January 25, 2010

Modesty Lost - Cleavage Gained

The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her.
Marcelene Cox

Last weekend, I ended up in a large dressing room of a major department store with four of my bunco bitch friends. The search for a mother of the groom dress had begun. I've been told for months that I cannot take on this endeavor by myself. That I'm not qualified. Okay, so fashion sense isn't my forte. Doesn't hurt my feelings. I can take it. Besides, I've never enjoyed shopping unless it involved books, plants, or food. I'm aware that the idea of going through racks and changing clothes again and again exhausts me.

But my friends don't share that groove. They have another and I ended up stuck in it.

There I be. Dresses lined up before me. Linda checking the quality of the material. All of them chastising me because I hadn't worn the proper undergarment accouterments for fitting purposes. (I didn't mention I thought I had.) Even the saleswoman suggested to me that next time I wear different underwear. My friends proudly told her they had already kicked my butt on that topic.

"Try this one. That doesn't work. Nope, take it off. Suck it in. Bigger size, please." I felt like a VERY LARGE dress up doll.

They were having entirely too much fun. And then, those friends of mine all agreed with the saleswoman that the lingerie lady needed to join the party. That I needed a decent bra. That the underwear can make the clothes.

Mind you, I could live very happily in the jungle--naked. No restrictions on this body of mine. Granted that would have been a much prettier site back in my youth, but,

so it goes. When in comfort mode, which for me is 80% of the time, I ain't got no bra on. For most of my life this didn't matter because I didn't have anything to put in one. When in college, my roommates put a tube top on me and kept telling me to turn around - laughing their sorry asses off.

At mammogram time (if you've had the opportunity to experience this phenonmenon) I always chuckled to myself when the technician told me to set my boob on the tray. Uh, you mean my nipple? Oh, those were the good old days.

Track ahead to the weekend, where I bared my body and allowed myself to be strapped into several contraptions designed to lift me up and smooth me out. Along with the apple shape I've attained the past few years, a substantial amount to load in those bra cups has sprung also.

"Move 'em around," my peanut gallery shouted. Again, my ignorance set in. How was I to know there was a set system for this procedure? No, can't just clip it in front, swirl around until centered, and pull up the straps. You have to attach, swirl, lean over and give those babies a good shake. Pick them up with your hands and move them around in there. Set those girls in place. Who thinks up these things?

Apparently everyone except me. One more maneuver to add to my daily repertoire. Bend over, shake and rattle before rolling. Make sure my girls are comfortable in there and presto, chango? Instant cleavage. Amazing. Will learning never cease?

Of course we had to eat and drink after that excursion. I was a tad spent.

As to what the dress looks like? You'll just have to wait for the wedding.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Milestone for the Humbled Midlife Jobhunter

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
Marcel Proust

I found it rather poignant to have noticed at this late hour that I have 100 posts and 150 followers. How cool is that. I should be in bed but as with most of my late nights, I find the most interesting people out there in this world. For that, I am grateful.

When I began this blog, I had no idea where it might lead or even why I started it. Set it up rather casually, however, I no longer take it casually. I have met the most incredible people, all with their own stories, proclivities, talents, insights, challenges, hope, and expertise. What a fine group of people you are. I thank you for the opportunity to join in your words and lives.

Please click on all lines and phrases below to take a most incredible journey through life, living, eating, and possibly finding camaraderie in a difficult world. I know I have missed many of you due to the late hour. Gladly there are more milestones to come for recognition. Meanwhile, click on the underlined sentence fragment to get to the site.

from Istanbul, allowing us to tour a fascinating part of the world,

in England letting us live the life of a farmer with a most intelligent wife

an 84 year old women in Green Bay, Wisconsin writing her heart about life and past

moms living through the changes with kids,

and even more kids and jobhunter as well,

book readers, more book readers, lions on the porch

missing person searches with the occasional glimpse of the dad in love with his kids

comics, scorpions, and guy stuff in Arizona

just an all and out liar, and a lovely friend

a writer that offers a mix of ideas and adds the Indian culture

one women who can lose weight, that I envy,

a devoted grandmother and wife who shares tales of her past and present

a serious memoirist

a Gumbo Writer and a

talented writer and fellow night owl

One finding a way to make to the world a better place

a studier of the writing craft

one who may not want to be on her own, but now is, in the cold,
and doing well.

one who finds footprints in the snow

one whose incredible photographs and dedication to other writers is most welcome

poets through back doors

the hatching writer

a broad with a smart mouth

a writer honing the craft and discovering the publishing world

soul searchers on the road

one who feed us and lets us party ala Mardi Gras and gumbo

rebels with causes

a tart with a sense of humor

one who teaches Up North, there, and makes us laugh with her insights

one who teaches, raise kids, and reaches out
from an island

I've tired out on the evening and have missed many of you, but thank you for making this blog experience most interesting. I am impressed with this opportunity and the resurgence of people needing and "listening" to people.

How can a year and 100 posts have passed so quickly? Onward we march. May the force be with us!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Art of My Essays - Part One

I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of.
Michel de Montaigne

Twenty years ago, a new friend and I took on the editorship of our neighborhood newsletter. Probably doesn't sound like that big of a deal, but this was an eight-page monthly newsletter with a circulation of 1500. My friend, Rebekah, and I were new stay-at-home moms in a new neighborhood, seeking sanity.

The publication consisted of advertisements from mainly neighborhood residents - the insurance salesmen, Tupperware ladies, real estate agents, and home painters. Articles included happenings with the sewer company, neighborhood association news, Yard of the Month, and the pool schedule. Rebekah and I handled all aspects of the process from collecting and writing the news, advertising, copy editing, distributing, etc. We used the newsletter as a welcome outlet while our lives took on this new role of never-a-break motherhood. Rebekah brought the journalism experience and I can't tell you what I had to offer at the time other than being a sucker for getting out of the house. (Eliminating my salary put more than a few chinks in our lifestyle.)

By the time we, and then co-editor, Lynda, finished this volunteer job years later, the paper had grown to 16 pages and a circulation of 2200. We had a volunteer staff of 15 people, monthly meetings, and the Austin American Statesman was calling us for news. The superintendent of schools wanted our publication on his desk as soon as it came off the press.

But all that glory did have its bumps along the way. At deadline, Page 5 always had a hole. A big one. A few months after we began, in an effort to bring some feature writing and articles of interest, I wrote a short essay on buying a new refrigerator. Had a tad of humor to it, I think, and was received well. Sample lines from a few of the eventual 40 or so Page 5 fillers:

On children: What is it about our species that wants children so desperately and then delights in their absence?

We put our kids to bed between 7:30 and 8. People ask why they go down so early. I reply that they need their rest, but the little voice in the back of my mind says 'Be honest, tell 'em you can't stand them anymore.'

The other day while I was trying to remember my oldest child's name so I could yell at him...

On housework and homemaking: I don't have particular days set up to do laundry. When my kids come downstairs and say, "Mom, we're out of underwear," I know it's time to do laundry.

I've heard that the key to a neat home is to have a place for everything and to put things back in their place. I do that. I have a place for everything--on the counter.

Ok, so I didn't become the ultimate homemaker. My neighbor, also a stay-at-home mom, gets up every morning and irons a shirt for her husband, fixes him breakfast, and probably kisses him goodbye at the door. At my house, as my husband irons his own shirt using the bathroom light as his guide, I wake up, ask him to not make so much noise, then roll over and go back to sleep.

On pregnancy: The Ode to the Nine Month Pregnant Woman - She lies on the couch listening to her children destroying something in the garage and thinks, 'Boy, there was a day when I would have cared what was going on out there.'

Who cares if her kids eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and dinner? She fed them, didn't she?

On my husband: I don't know about the man in your house, but in my house when my husband is sick, the whole world comes to a standstill. He usually makes sure that he has worn himself down as much as he can before he decides to call a doctor or stay home.

My husband has never refused to handle a diaper change or a throw-up cleanup. He has made tremendous progress from the days when changing the cat box gagged him.

On getting crap for writing form Christmas letters: What they don't realize is that after you hand write 50 letters, they are all pretty much the same anyway. And those at the end of the alphabet usually get profound letters stating "How are you? We are fine. Jacob talks, Jordan walks, Bob works, and we still have the cat. Merry Christmas."

Okay, so some of you blogger friends who have followed me for a while are thinking not much has changed in twenty years. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

As to the reason for this trip back in time? One of the groups I joined in the writing salon, She, has been discussing the definition of the personal essay. It reminded me as to how I came about writing essays as never did I expect to do so. When I did this newsletter, even after five years and over 40 essays, I had no idea that's what I wrote. But I liked it.

One of my mentors? Erma Bombeck. Through her daily columns, she taught me how to survive the life mine had become. We had a difference in styles. She had a better sense of humor and a more vivid imagination. For her kid's lunches, she made pork chop sandwiches with the bone still in the meat. I paid for school lunches.

After the smoke of motherhood cleared somewhat due to my youngest beginning school and I had a moment to myself, I consumed all 770 pages of The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate. There, and in several writing classes, I discovered why I loved this form of expression. The discovery of self. The universal, yet personal nature of its works. My actions, my thoughts, my life, on any given day, put into words so even I could understand them.

Of course, this makes it sound like I have it all figured out. Wouldn't that be nice.

to be continued...

Photo courtesy of Beth at Idea Gal

Monday, January 11, 2010

You Say Tomato, He Says Tomauto, I Say Dead, Dead, Dead

When one of my plants dies, I die a little inside, too.
Linda Solegato

I know I won't gather much sympathy from this post. That living in Zone 8 brings me a mild winter with a temp dip below 32 an occasional occurrence. That the majority of the country looks like frozen tundra and even the orange groves are at risk this evening. But I do want some advice, as I so want to grow tomatoes.

You may recall this photo from last summer when the temps surpassed 100 for weeks in a row. Where trying to keep my plants alive became the name of the game. With no hope for the fruit to set when the temp rises above 90, I had missed the window by a few weeks. My plants succumbed to dry, shriveled, ugly, ugly death. Note to self - For summer crop, plant earlier - like March.

In October, I purchased new seedlings from the store. Fresh hope. Varied varieties named Early Girl, Brandywine, Celebrity, Yellow Pear. Planted three in the garden, three in pots. Experimenting.
Results: Cold weather blows in and although plants grow large and the fruit sets, even colder weather visits bringing vicious, frigid winds. Note to Self - For winter crop, plant earlier - like September 1.

Nothing sadder than seeing a thriving plant, die, die, die. A green thumb does not live at my house when it comes to tomatoes. I know people who just stick tomato plants in the ground and they produce so much the planter can't figure out what to do with them all. I want a harvest like that. Perhaps in more things that just tomato growing.This is the big harvest for the season. With the Arctic blast coming at us like a steam engine, I covered the plants for days. Unfortunately, 16 degrees is the limit. I gave in and picked all they wrote. Think I'll eat those baby plum tomatoes tomorrow.

Meanwhile - there are sad hearts around my house tonight. The Green Bay Packer game didn't leave us in good moods. Had to go eat Mexican food to feel better. We love the Pack. Until next year.

And that there in my dining room? That's the Fragrant Liar. Click here to visit her most informational blogsite. Don't go, however, if you don't like to laugh.

My computer is operating way too slow. Signing off for now.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Onward! Launch Time has Arrived

Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are.

Bernice Johnson Reagon

I'm lolling about in the confines of a very warm bed. My husband awoke me hours ago with a cup of coffee, yet it has begun to rain and the drops on the tin roof provide a rhythm that makes being under the covers much too inviting. Besides, getting up means all that Christmas mess needs my assistance to attain its resting place for another year. Also the piles of paperwork hidden in vast recesses from visiting company's view need pulling out for assessment of any urgency long put off. Laundry, grocery shopping, life brought up to date to begin the new year, awaits me.

Before I head into that routine however, I require a more defined reminder of my desired accomplishments for this year - the writing I want to pursue, the perfect resume I want to design for that jobhunt, the time with my youngest son I want to treasure before he leaves to begin his very own life next fall.

Seems overwhelming as I list these items, and I'm tempted to put away the pages of my journal and close the cover of my laptop. Snuggling under the covers for one more nap sounds most inviting. But instead I stick with it for what the practice of writing brings me. By putting my fears, my needs, my work into tangible words, I leave not only a plan on the page, but some of the anxiety as well.

By getting it down, the multitude of ideas and tasks floating like electrons and protons and neutrons around my brain have an opportunity to slow and settle, making then easier to distribute into a plan. The protons line up with the electrons to offer cause and effect. The neutrons float freely to be plucked as needed for reminders as to why any of this is done at all. For me, the tightening of the circular option gives me pause to prepare for the forward movement. A chance to take that needed breath and say, "Oh well," before pushing on into the subjective unknown of forward movement. Hopefully, I take some form of directions with me.

The new year begins. With weddings, graduations, empty nests, uncertainty before me, this will be a year filled with new roads. Possibly many unpaved and filled with ruts to dodge. I hope all my previous map reading helps me stay on a road - most of the time. Or else have the means to handle the detours and diversions with a steady heart and patient mind.



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