Friday, January 24, 2020

The Framers Can’t Protect Us from Ourselves

As the farce that is the Republican-controlled Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump unfolds, I find myself turning toward the coming Democratic primary elections as a sort of tonic against the madness that is this trial.  It’s not that I don’t support the impeachment: I emphatically do and could happily add a half dozen more charges to the list.  But I can already see the writing on the wall:  the Republican Senators plan to carry water for their president and this entire process is going to be play acting of the very worst sort.

It’s not that the players lack seriousness.  The Democratic House managers believe the president should convicted and removed.  The Republican Senators are determined to protect their man.  And so we all go through the motions, in the process making a sham of the Constitution.

The resilience of the American experiment is thus being tested.  Watching that process unfold is disturbing and scary.  In his closing remarks on Thursday evening, House impeachment manager Adam Schiff’s emotional conclusion pointed out the fact that the Constitution demands we make decisions between right and wrong.  Then he made the most important point: “The Framers can’t protect us from ourselves.”

It boils down to just that.  We have our republic.  Can we protect and keep it?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Your Weekly Amaryllis - Week Three

This little stem is really getting after the work of blooming into a flower.  Winter sunlight is my ally in this task and it’s been a fairly sunny Winter so far.

By the time a flower appears, February will be underway and I will have started plotting my transition to Spring.  For me, Winter’s chill feels anticipatory: a chance to tuck under a cozy blanket and  daydream about the blooming seasons to come.  The amaryllis is my ally in this expectant season, a reminder of the warmth and light that is steadily making its way forward.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Real Life Texts with T: Water edition

The backstory:  Between the broken dishwasher (the water pump failed) and the kitchen leak from the upstairs shower, water and I have been struggling in 2020.  I came to school today and was here less than an hour when a student reported water leaking in the girls bathroom.  This led to a text exchange with T.

Me:  There is a toilet leaking in the girl’s bathroom.  Pretty much everywhere I go there is a water problem.  WTF?

T:  Water always wins - ask the Grand Canyon.


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Home Improvement: 2020 Shower edition

The morning after our new dishwasher made its triumphant way into the kitchen, T was taking a shower before work and I was helping myself to an extra cup of coffee when I felt a drip from the kitchen ceiling.  Unexpected water is never good.  A glance overhead confirmed that initial reaction.  There was a leak from the shower overhead.

The upstairs bathroom is directly above the kitchen and I am sorry to report that water in this location isn’t new.  The last time it leaked, in 2010, a whole new bathroom was installed.  

A plumber and tile installer confirm the problem: some loose tiles in the upstairs shower.  They’ve been re-grouted before but that repair is term-limited and it’s likely a new tile job is in our future.  In the meantime, T engineered a temporary hold to prevent continued dripping: a shower curtain against the wall, held in place by some duct tape.

This will get us through the next few weeks and buy some time for big decisions.  It’s not elegant but it will do the trick.  Stay tuned, because 2020 is looking like another year in my home improvement saga.

Friday, January 17, 2020

The Courage to Live in My Own Body

Though I can’t remember a time when I felt as if it was acceptable to like my body, I can remember the moment that I first began to dislike my body.  

I was 9.  

It seems especially fitting that I can’t really remember liking my body.  For a long, long time, that is where things stood: I didn’t like my body, assumed others felt the same, and actively worked to get to a place where my body was worthy of being liked, or at least that is what I told myself.  Honestly, it was just a series of attempts to change my body so that I could hate it less.

But hate it less was the goal; liking my body seemed downright impossible.

I know the origins of the dislike and they are deep-seated.  Of greater importance to me is the way the dislike played out.  For most of my life, I’ve seen everything via an internal lens of weight.  To the outside world I present a picture of confidence and sass.  It is my protective armor; a fake-it-til-you-make-it strategy that helped me to step forward in the world.  At various times, that outside attitude did reflect my internal landscape.  But never for very long.

Internally, the dialogue was often painfully critical.  I avoided mirrors and photos; I assumed that entire categories of clothing were off-limits for me because of my body.  I could (and can!) look at other people and see a whole person whom I value and see as beautiful because they are human and I value them as a person.  But that was rarely the case when I looked at myself.  Then, all I could see was a catalog of disappointments.  

Pregnancy, and healthcare by an amazing midwife, did help me for a while.  I delivered a healthy baby and vowed to make sure I didn’t pass on my body hate to him.  But that was the goal: not to actually like my body but to make sure my son didn’t hate his.

I devoured books about a healthy body image and, for the most part, I think I was a success on the body image front when it comes to my son.  But when it came to me, the dysfunction seemed like it had become a part of my DNA.

A few years ago, when a podiatrist was treating my exercise-induced heel pain, he pointed out the high arches and narrow heels of my feet and asked if it was hard for me to find shoes that fit comfortably.  I replied yes and mentioned my weight and he looked at me and said, “no…..I’m talking about your high arches and narrow heel.”  For the first time in my life, I realized that my feet are just odd, not a function of my weight.  

I was 44.

I know that shaming people about their bodies is wrong and dangerous.  I also know that it happens all the time.  In the last year I have begun to pay attention to women associated with the body positivity movement.  I like and admire them and their work.  I see them as amazing human beings with bodies that fuel their outspoken presence in a world that rarely welcomes women who step outside the limits of constrained social norms for female bodies.  When I feel like I am part of something hopeful for women.  That is a significant transition for me, one that is the outcome of years of hard work to undo the impressions first made on 9 year old me.

It doesn’t always come easy and these days I suspect that it never will.  But honesty demands that we value all of our bodies for what they do for us.  It means giving myself permission to eat alone in public and wear the clothing I like.  To wear a swimsuit.  It means being willing to be in photos and not flinching from them (okay, this remains a challenge). It means making a concerted effort to like my self without apology.   To take up space and feel and believe that I deserve to do so.  

And so I do.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Your Weekly Amaryllis - Week Two

Sitting amongst the plants in a southern facing window has been a good arrangement for the amaryllis, which is coming along nicely.

Some years, it takes more than a few weeks for progress to show itself and I end up fretting abut the plant on a daily basis.  This year’s amaryllis bulb has quite kindly gotten after the job at hand so that my frets are at a minimum.  That’s happy!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Spring Fantasies

Last week I earnestly explained to T that January is nice because it’s almost Spring.  She looked at me as if I had lost my last bit of sense, pointed out that we were less than a month off the Winter solstice, pulled her toque lower on her ears, slipped on her curse of a coat (it weighs 15 pounds, no joke) and slunk outside in Winter boots.  She didn’t even take the time to truly consider my assertion that Spring starts on March 1st.

Or consider that I have my eye on a pale pink sweater which I will wear in Spring.

It’s the time of year when I begin to think about Spring and realize again that it is the season that I love the best.   Admittedly, I am early to the party….it’s January, after all.  But I don’t feel limits because of January.  Over the weekend, we had unexpectedly warm weather and I left the house in flip flops…’s like Mother Nature wants me to daydream about Spring.  

And so I do.  I cheer on my amaryllis.  I’ve collected seed catalogs so I can make plans about what to plant in my garden.  On-line, I visit pink sweaters and flower stickers.  I day dream about Easter decorations.  In a few weeks, daffodil bouquets will turn up in the grocery store.

I am ready.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Real Life Texts with KO: Moving House edition

The backstory: My sister and her husband have sold their house and are moving into a temporary residence while their new home is built.  That meant that last Wednesday they loaded up 18 years worth of life well-lived.  I texted her early in the morning to wish her good luck.  I heard back from her at 8:45 am California time.

KO:  I’ve already had my fill of moving.  Ready to tap out.

Me:  Hmmmm.  If the van is emptied, you may tap out for now.

KO:  Van is not emptied and also I think your standards are unreasonable.

Me: Well we can debate my standards after the van is emptied.

KO: God damn no flexibility on your part.

Me:  Well that seems harsh.  But true, as it turns out.

KO:  I wanted to tell up to fuck off so I thought my sentiment was a nice compromise.

Me:  Oh yeah, great work on the compromise.  Sorry about the day.  Treat yourself to tacos for lunch.

The move is complete and KO is celebrating a birthday weekend.  She’s one of the funniest and most determined people I know, a woman who gets up and does what needs doing, takes a nap, and then gets after it again.  Embrace the day, birthday girl, and know you are loved.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Wait, There is Photo Evidence

I think we can all agree that this uneven blind

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Our Posh Lifestyle

For Christmas, T and I received new wood window blinds for our bedroom.  These are both prettier to look at and much easier to use than the sad blinds that proceeded them.  So sad, apparently, that I made no picture of them.  All you get are the pretty new blinds. 

Window blind technology has made some real leaps in the years since I last acquired blinds and these go up and down easily, without the unpleasant yanking-on-a-string process that always found me losing my mind because the blinds were not even.  And how could I survive looking at such a window every day?  I could not and thus, the window blind battle was enjoined.

I never won.

From our perch on the Princess and the Pea bed we are quite pleased with the view and the tidy line of even window blinds.  They feel quite posh.