Monday, November 25, 2013

Never Going Back to Texas

I texted my brother recently, asking for a photo of our mother's headstone. I will never see it otherwise, I said, because I am not going back to Texas ever.

I was overcome by sorrow at the thought of never being there again. Sorrow because there is no reason to go.

I remembered how after my mother's death, my daughter and I sat out on my mother's deck late at night. We talked some, heart to heart, but also just sat together quietly, listening to mysterious birds and watching the clouds and the moon. I wished I could have those moments again, the deck nestled in among the trees my mother loved, the balmy air, my daughter's soft voice. And I wish I could have had more time with my mother.

On a five minute walk I composed a little poem.

Can we go back to Texas, Mama,
and sit on the deck 
at midnight
and listen to the nightbirds' sleepy warbling,
and feel the sticky air turn soft
and balmy?
Can we go back to Texas, Mama,
and watch the clouds 
float over the face of the moon,
and sip our wine,
and rest in peaceful companionship
in the silent spaces
between our words?
Can we go back to Texas, Mama, 
when we are together again
both gone away,
gone away?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Over the Hill and frumpy, but comfy

I think I have reached the summit of The Hill. How do I know? It's the jeans.

Every night I come home from work and immediately strip off my jeans with their annoying zippers and buttons and seams and nagging waistbands. And I slip on slacks made of stretchy elastic stuff. No zipper. No button. Sometimes I go all out and just grab some sloppy, but oh-so-comfy sweatpants.

All my life I've noticed the little old ladies wearing their stretch slacks and thought, "that's when I'll know I'm old, when I start wearing stretchy, frumpy clothes rather than trendy clothes." Well, to be truthful, I've never been trendy, I'm always 3 or 4 steps behind fashion-wise, but there is a part of me that always believed I'd never give up my blue jeans - the rebellious flag of my youth.

Here's the truth about blue jeans. As much as I love them, as much as I feel they reflect who I am (child of the sixties and seventies, counter-culture, hippie-wannabe, even though everybody wears blue jeans, I'll bet even Rush Limbaugh wears blue jeans), blue jeans have those really uncomfortable thick seams that go up the legs, and down the center of the seat. And lately the waistbands always feel too tight (because my waist is getting too thick, I know, I know). They're just not comfortable. And in cold weather, blue jeans are cold, they absorb the chill and then slap my skin with it. And in hot weather they don't breathe. I, who love hot weather, cannot stand to wear blue jeans on a hot, sticky Iowa summer day. And I cannot take a nap in blue jeans, because of the tight waistband, thick, uncomfortable seam thing. And when you're at the summit of The Hill, you never know when you might need a nap, and you've got to be prepared in comfy pajama-like trousers.

So at the end of a work day, I peel the blue jeans off and slide my aging, thickening body into the bliss of stretch pants. So I am at the top of that proverbial hill, just at the top, not over it yet, not quite yet.

I'll know when I'm over the hill when I opt out of blue jeans for work wear, and start coming to work in stretch slacks.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Me too, Mom

I was talking to my mother on the phone last night, my mother who is 82 years old, a great-grandmother, brain-damaged and crippled from a devastating stroke in 2007.

"I'm a cougar," she informed me. "Do you know what a cougar is?"

"Umm, yeah," I said.

"I like young men in tight blue jeans," she said, "I don't have any use for old men in baggy pants."

Sometimes my mom just rocks.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Rape by Any Other Name

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet..." Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet
Recently my daughter overheard some junior high kids talking. One boy asked another, "If you have sex with a prostitute without her consent, is it rape, or is it shoplifting?"

Snicker snicker snicker.

It's supposed to be funny, right? Maybe I just don't have a sense of humor, but as a person of the female persuasion, and the mother of three daughters, I rarely find jokes about rape funny. Particularly when they come out of the mouths of 14 year old boys and my 14 year old daughter seems to think the boys are being clever. Maybe I should lighten up, because in a way, the word play is clever.

But then I heard a segment on NPR about date rape. A young woman went drinking with some friends and during the evening, when she was fairly well drunk, another drunken friend, a young man, raped her. Troubled about this encounter, she confided in her female friends, and her friends,
her friends!, laughed at her. For the next year she became the butt of their jokes. When they drank together, they warned her, "better watch out, if you get drunk you might assault yourself again." The meaning being that if you're drunk, you deserve whatever happens to you. If you're drunk, you can't really get raped, especially not by a friend who is also drunk. Right? But if it's not rape what is it? A mistake? A confusion of communication? So the guy gets his jollies, and the girl gets the pain, but that's okay, because she was drunk?
Unfortunately for this circle of friends, another young woman was raped under the same circumstances. This time it didn't seem so funny to any of them, and they reported it to the police. Let's hope the police officers were more enlightened.

We've come a long way baby - all the way back to the beginning of the struggle.

So let me say it now: Sex without consent is rape.

Doesn't matter if the woman is a prostitute (or the boy or the man is a prostitute). Even if you pay the prostitute first, if she changes her mind and says, "No" and you proceed anyway, it's rape.

Sex with a person who is too drunk, or drugged, to give consent is rape.

Sex without consent with a person who is your otherwise sexy, flirtatious girlfriend or wife is rape.

Sex with a child, even if the child gives consent, is rape.

If you are part of a culture that allows slavery, sex with your slave is rape, even if your slave gives consent.

Rape. It's an ugly word for an ugly act. Rape by any other name, a drunken mistake, a misunderstanding, a service paid for, a marital right, an owner's prerogative, an "I couldn't help myself," is still ugly, still traumatic, still painful, still heartbreaking and still rape.

I have three daughters, and I also have two sons. I hope, I hope, I hope that I have taught all my children about respect for themselves and for others. I hope I have educated all of them to understand when to say "no" and when to respect someone else's "no". I hope they know how to protect themselves and how to protect others. And I hope that none of them ever thinks that rape is something to laugh about.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Feminine Mistake

Common mistakes that women make:

Mistaking romance for love.

Choosing romance over love.

Choosing current boyfriend over long time girlfriends.

Doing all the housework herself.

Hating her body, or certain parts of her body.

Letting a man manage her money.

Letting a man support her.

Not trying on clothes before buying them.

Especially not trying on bras before buying them.

Allowing herself to be guilted into situations (read: committees) for which she has no time, energy or enthusiasm.

Forgetting to remove tampon before intimate relations.

Wearing white pants during her fertile years.

Believing any claims about tampons or pads (or diapers!) being leak proof.

Not making sure that
all of the sticky side of the pad is firmly secured to her panty and facing away from her tender nether regions.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Give me a head with hair

Okay, so I'm not quite finished with Twilight.There is just one more teeny hurtin' thing that bugs me. The hair. The big poufy hair.

I watched Twilight with my daughters, the 13 year old who loves it, and the 19 year old who calls it "Toilet". About a third of the way through the movie, I had to say it out loud: "I hate his hair." Nineteen year old daughter, said, " I know!"

Just what bright hair stylist decided that Edward's hair was supposed to look like Little Iodine??


My thirteen year old daughter has become enthralled with Twilight, the novel by Stephenie Meyers. She adores the movie, too, and thinks Robert Pattinson in the character of Edward the hunky vampire, is a dish. (She wouldn't use or understand that word, but I like it).

So... in the interest of understanding my darling daughter's infatuation with the series of novels and the movie and the character, I read Twilight, and watched the movie with her. I recently finished the second book in the series, New Moon, and am on the waiting list at the library for the third book. So I didn't hate it, or think it was stupid or ridiculous.

(Please note that if I had hated the book, or was bored by it, I would not have finished it, and certainly wouldn't have read the sequel.) I did find it engaging. I understand why young girls find it so appealing. I would have loved it when I was a teenager. The writing is not great, but the story is rich with romance and danger and heroism and melodrama.

The most interesting thing to me about the story, is the portrayal of Edward. Okay, so he's a vampire - this is not an new idea, there are plenty of novels featuring vampires. But Edward is a vampire with a romantic heart. (Huge sigh.)
He is immensely concerned about not hurting this fragile human girl, Bella. (Huge sigh.) He loves her, but he can't have his cake and eat her too. (If he eats her, he will kill her.) What to do , what to do....

So Edward is torn. He is a tender, loving, adoring, protective, beautiful (Meyer makes sure we understand how beautiful Edward is by having Bella point this out to the reader about a bazillion times), dangerous, mysterious, communicative, silent vampire. And the most believable part of that description is: vampire.

Girlfriends, I wasted a lot of my life and hurt a lot of people, including some perfectly nice men, with my foolish desires to fall in love with a man who was tender, loving, adoring, protective, beautiful, dangerous, mysterious, communicative, and silent all at the same time.
And like, Bella, I wanted to be entirely consumed by the love of this man. Heck, why not expect him to be a bloodsucking Superman too?

I don't know at what point I got fantasy confused with reality in my little head.
It took me until the "twilight" of my own life, or late afternoon at least, to learn the difference. I want my daughter to enjoy her fantasy novels, but I hope she knows that they are just fantasies, and while fantasy is fun, it can't compare to the joy of real life and real love with a real person.

Here's a joke:
Why is it difficult to find men who are sensitive, caring and good- looking?

They already have boyfriends.