Saturday, September 29, 2007

Siblings and so on

One of my massage school classmates told a story about herself during one of the ice-breaking activities we had when class first started. Volga said that throughout her entire childhood, her older sister told her that she (Volga) was adopted. Volga said she was totally convinced what her sister said was true, until her mother got so tired of this nonsense she dragged Volga out to meet the doctor who delivered her. She was fourteen before she realized she was actually related to the people who raised her.

Siblings are hell.

That story reminded me of one that Airy told me. (Airy was the woman who gave me my cat, Lyle). Airy said she grew up with four brothers and sisters and they were all pretty close in age. At the time of this event, they were all under the age of nine. Their mom was single, had three jobs, and thus had to come up with some innovative parenting shortcuts to eliminate some of the child-based drama in the household. For example:

One day Airy hatched a plan to get her older brother in trouble with Mom. Step one was to pick on him until he became enraged enough to chase her. Step two was to act scared and run into the kitchen where Mom was, and presumably Mom would come to Airy's rescue and yell at older brother or worse. In other words, Airy laid out some rope for older brother to hang himself with, and he grabbed it up with relish. He chased her into the kitchen and grabbed a steak knife to menace her with while shouting about his intent to kill her.

Here's where events took an unpredictable turn. Airy and brother were running circles around Mom when Mom grabbed Airy's arm and held it against the counter. "I've got her," Mom told brother. "Go ahead. If you cut her across this vein here along her arm, she'll bleed to death."

Brother stood as if he'd just been whacked with a baseball bat. Airy saw her life flash before her eyes.

"Hurry up," Mom said. "She's struggling and I won't be able to hold her much longer."

Brother started to cry. "But I don't want her to die," he wailed.

Airy, realizing she was going to live, started breathing again. They left Mom the hell alone for the rest of the day.

I've been slack with posting entries this month because of two things: I started massage school two weeks ago and began a wheat, dairy, and sugar-free diet at about the same time.

Everybody in my massage class is pretty cool, and I enjoy the classes, which right now include Anatomy I and Swedish Massage I. It's refreshing because it's such a departure from all of the things I've done in the past - which was get English degrees by reading and writing about abstract concepts, and working jobs which were all about thinking, talking, and/or writing. This is very visceral and non-abstract. We're learning the scientific names for body parts and practicing massage strokes on each other.

Since I can't afford health insurance yet and am concerned about maintaining my health so I won't need a doctor, I deemed it necessary to adhere to the recommendations of the allergist who identified the shitload of things I'm allergic to: wheat, dairy, yeast, beef, pork, and various weeds and molds. I decided to kick sugar, too. It feels like I'm fasting. There is almost nothing in the regular grocery store that I can eat because wheat and sugar are in almost everything. My allergies are better, but I'm tired a lot because I'm starving. I'm so tired of brown rice, salads, and dirty dishes.

I'm disappointed because the second series of Permaculture classes I need to take have been cancelled. Also because I haven't been able to engineer my own Permaculture-style garden. I had a small gardening project in a planter on our balcony, but when the building was pressure-washed recently, the planter was inundated with bleachy water. Most of the plants lived, but I don't think we'll be eating food grown in there again.

This is a boring entry but I feel the need to evaluate what I'm doing with this page and I figured I'd do it out loud, so to speak. Originally I planned to write all my entries about different themes in Permaculture and how they relate to my life, but I gave up on that before I started. I tried doing a theme-based web log once before and couldn't stick to it. I'm more productive with unstructured output, but on the other hand I think I cost myself readers by being so random.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

middle age is a strange country

I was examining the $1 sale rack at Gail's Consignments shop the other day, and a couple of other women were in there trying on clothes.
"Ooh! Wait til you see this!" said the woman in the dressing room. She presented herself shortly thereafter.
"Oh girl, you wrong," said her friend. "It's cute, but you wrong. That dress makes you look like a ho."
The woman in the dress protested, insisting that the dress would be the Platonic ideal of Saturday night outfits once accessorized correctly. (I'm paraphrasing.) I pretended I wasn't paying attention to their conversation, but then her friend looked over and asked me what I thought.

It was indeed a cute as hell dress and she looked great in it, but it was an example of a dilemma I feel caught on the horns of myself here lately. The dress, a sleek, sleeveless black chiffon affair, came to about mid-thigh. The woman wearing it, though she had a great figure and good legs, looked to be in her forties, and I suspected she was somebody who looks younger than she is. And I'm just not sure of what the cutoff age for short dresses is.

Ageing boomers on daytime talk shows will rave on about how fifty is the new thirty or some such shit, and how women should wear what they want at whatever age they are. I agree. But I also think many of the short skirted, over-made up women who are getting their age on look vain and silly. They look like they are hanging on to youth with bleeding fingernails. Ageing gracefully does not mean managing to pass as young, in my mind, so I gave all my short skirts to Goodwill. I'm just not comfortable in them anymore. I'm not a rock star, so it's not appropriate for my social milleu.

I told them I liked the dress, but I asked the wearer if she was sucking in her gut at all. She admitted she was. I advised her to find something more comfortable, because sucking in your gut gets old. But she turned to look at herself in the mirror, without holding her gut in, and I couldn't see any difference. That woman and that dress looked like they belonged together. She did not look like an oldster who was trying too hard. I really hated to hear her friend talk her out of buying it. But I understood that the clash of the woman's age with the dress caught my eye, and it would the eyes of others too. And those folks might run their mouths, and who wants to deal with that while trying to have fun on a Saturday night?

And isn't it interesting how it's much more tactful for a friend to say "That dress makes you look like a ho" than it is to say "You're too old for that look."

Middle age is a strange country.


Wyatt and I went to Chattanooga over Labor Day weekend. This drought has turned Fall Creek Falls into Fall Creek Dribble, as evidenced in the above photo.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

back lot death match

I was unsure of what ethical action was called for in this situation. I could hear the cicada stutter intermittently, and went to investigate. When I found it upside down in the monkey grass I tried to brush aside a strand, but shouted when said blade of grass turned to look at me with chilling praying mantis eyeballs that seemed to be saying "You're next."

I used a stick to put some distance between these insects, but then Rodrigo pointed out that I was depriving the praying mantis of lunch. I guess I unconsciously sided with the cicada because they aren't as creepy as mantises. But this one clearly wasn't long for the world anyway, since it couldn't fly or even crawl right side up, so what was the harm in leaving it to the mantis?

Rodrigo wanted to see what kind of gruesome action would continue between these two. He tried to pick up the mantis and get it interested in the cicada again, but the mantis was too upset about being interrupted and too slippery be put anywhere. I pictured it going for Rodrigo's eyes and was relieved when he got bored and went inside.

I came inside too and listened to the periodic death throes of the cicada for about an hour. Then I went outside to check on things and sure enough, the mantis was hanging upside down on a pot full of my dianthus flowers and feasting on the cicada's face. What bothered me was how long it was taking for the cicada to die. I asked myself questions like: Aren't we ethically bound to end suffering? What's the PETA position on insect life? Should I just stomp them both?

In the end I left them alone to their fates, though I can't say I didn't interfere. I sat out there in the hot ass sun for about 15 minutes trying to get Wyatt's new digital camera to focus on these guys, which it would do, but then go blurry when I took the photo. I used much profanity and took many frames trying to get this shot. I probably prolonged the cicada's suffering, I'm realizing just now, because the mantis kept stopping to look at me every time I moved.