Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Attack of the lavender bits.

I had the weirdest experience in the shower last night. You see, I order my shower/face/bath soap from this great little company in Spangle, WA. Their soaps are all super-fatted with veggie oils, all natural, flavored with herbs they grow in their own garden and essential oils, no animal products/testing/cruelty, no synthetic chemicals/scents/dyes etc., etc. The soap is...amazing. Transcendant, even. Their mint julep soap is to die for. I could eat it. My husband likes the stuff, too, in case this is all too girly for you. Let me know if you want this lady's contact info. Anyway, I tried out their lavender soap last night for the first time. You know how natural/homemade soap is made into loaves and the bars are hacked off in slices? Well, it looked like the lavender soap was made into a loaf and then scads of lavender - blossoms? pods? nuggets? - were sprinkled on top of it, so that when the bars were cut one of the long ends of the bar was covered in lavender...bits. I took the bar out of the wrapping and some of the bits fell off and I had my first moment of "um, weird" - I mean, there was this lovely purple bar with one end covered in what looked like little purply-gray bugs. Ew. But I shrugged and turned on the water. And then, what had vaguely resembled bugs came to life under the water. The shower stream made the lavender bits positively SEETHE in my hand and they started streaming off the bar of soap and down my arms, torso and legs in little buggy formations. AIEEEEEE!! It looked like I was covered in little gray...THINGS that were moving and [pant, pant, pant]...just a visceral response to a weird inanimate coincidence (small bits given life by shower spray), but my brain was still going "They're all OVER me! Gettem off, gettem off, GETTEM OFF!!" I honestly wouldn't have been surprised at that point if they had started biting.

I did firmly clamp down with my rational brain (what there is of it) and didn't do anything really dumb like yelp in horror and run screaming out of the shower, but I did quickly put the bar on the floor of the bathtub (so as to let the bits flow down the drain without using my body as a conduit) and rinsed off in a big damned hurry. And used her cinnamon soap for the rest of my personal cleansing experience. Ramon later took pity on me and scraped the rest of the bits off the end of the soap, so now I can lather up in purply, lavender-scented goodness without the fear of looking down and seeing small, moving things marching down my arms.

This lady's soap is the best I've used (hence my getting it shipped across the state), so I don't want to give people the wrong idea, but I am going to have a talk with her about putting bits of things in her soap. Especially bug-colored and -shaped ones. My imagination's just way too vivid to deal with such fine distinctions between moving tiny bits and real bugs.


Monday, June 20, 2005

Ode to Kale

Today marks my third year of being a vegetarian. I thought I'd reminisce about the whys and hows of it all. Vegetarianism isn't that interesting of a topic to put on a blog, but I'll try to be funny, at least. Or at least make fun of myself enough to keep you occupied.

The most amusing thing to think about is how my attitude about not eating meat has changed over these last years. I used to swear off meat because I wanted to do my part for oppressed animals everywhere. Well, I'm still a veggie because of that, but now it seems that I just eschew meat out of habit. I rarely think of why I'm not eating it. You can't think about crippled calves or featherless chickens every time you don't buy a red, plastic-wrapped, mushy package. You'd go mad. I don't push my shopping cart past the meat section and think "can't eat any of that..." When people would try to hand me a smoked sausage sample in the supermarket during my first few months as a veggie, I'd put my hands up in the "defend" position, sail past and say "No thanks, I'm a VEGETARIAN". It used to give poor Ramon fits. I browbeat the salesladies at Bath & Body Works because they couldn't guarantee that their products were entirely cruelty-free. Those first few months I'd walk around all day thinking "I'm a vegeTARian. I'm a vegeTARian." I would read every label, agonize (AGONIZE - I even wrote Miss Manners about it, though she never wrote me back) over what I should tell people having me over for a meal - should I tell them a few days before I eat with them that I don't eat meat, or should I just pick it out of my food when I get there and risk freaking them out? I would look at all sorts of food (fried chicken, my dad's steaks, marshmallows, Jell-O, cheese puffs - they contain rennet), smile sadly, wisely, and say: I shall never eat these foods again. I kept close tabs on my hair (would it thin out?), my nails (don't those little white stripes mean protein deficiency?) and my iron levels when I went to give blood. I carefully ate a whole grain AND a legume at every meal, to ensure the consumption of all 14 amino acids at the same time. This is unnecessary, by the way. I calmly waited for my body to magically begin to melt away. Later - a year later - I learned that there is actually a weight gain associated with becoming a vegetarian, of which I partook. Yes. I partook. Oh, the humanity.

Anyway, now I'm a bit blasé about the whole thing, really, I mean who isn't a vegetarian nowadays? Tofurky and Morningstar Farms and even Boca and Gardenburger make things so easy on us herbivores. Tofurky has a bratwurst that's to die for. Earth Balance has a no-trans-fat, non-dairy butter that tastes better than butter. Tofutti has ice cream sandwiches that my omnivore husband likes better than dairy ice cream, and their "Better Than Cream Cheese" tastes...better than cream cheese. IF you can eat it for 3 weeks to get used to it and never, ever eat dairy cream cheese again. I love tofu paté dip. I haven't found a restaurant yet where I can't convince the serving staff to bring me steamed veggies over rice - even Red Lobster, people. And wait staff in restaurants are always nicer if you don't peer at them from behind the menu, arch an eyebrow (okay, both. I can't arch ONE eyebrow) and ask primly, "are ANY of these soups vegeTARian?" I swear I used to do that, then feel oppressed for my righteousness when they worked me over.

NOW, the hard-core thing to do is to be VEGAN. Vegetarians are SO 2001, but VEGANS, walking around looking slender and mystical, are where it's at now. Hoo. I'm not there yet. Better for now to be a pudgy vegetarian who still gets to eat ice cream or a fried egg sandwich if she likes. I'd LIKE to go vegan, since the reason I gave up meat was to stop animals being hurt for my sake and animals used for dairy and eggs are just as mal-treated as meat animals. Or so I've heard. And who am I kidding? I'd love to be slender and mystical.

One thing I refuse to do is preach to people about giving up meat (disregard the former paragraph). I'll tell people why I don't eat meat MYSELF, but I've never gotten on someone's case for remaining omnivorous. I refuse to have dealings with PETA. I don't hand out copies of "Meet Your Meat", though I don't think PETA's bad (just self-righteous and incredibly annoying) or that the disturbing images they tout are made up. Hell, I won't even watch their DVDs or look at their brochures. You're preachin' to the choir, there, friends. I just think the information's out there and people who eat meat are following their path and I'm following mine. Sure, I'd love a world where lambies and little bunnies and cows all walked the earth freely without fear of meeting their fate in an abbattoir, but I don't think browbeating someone with a forkful of steak lifted halfway to their mouth is the answer. Just like I think confronting an overweight person sipping on a shake in McDonald's ain't gonna help them any. And smacking the rodeo queen in the face with a tofu cream pie was just wrong.

Anyway, my protein intake is great (wish I could control my caloric intake a little better, but that's neither here nor there) , my iron levels are still higher than the average woman's (sorry, Aly), my hair looks just fine, thank you, and my conscience...would be a lot clearer if I gave up eggs, milk, honey, wool, silk and the odd pair of leather shoes. Eep. It's a journey, just like everything else, I guess. I miss meat, just like I'll miss eggs and dairy and the rest when I give them up someday. But I'm still glad that I gave it up. I don't even begrudge the Universe that last 15 pounds I gained. Too bad french fries are still OK for me to eat...

Happy nibbling, little bunnies.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Terri Schiavo's Autopsy Report

I read today that the autopsy report performed on Terri Schiavo (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8225637/) did indeed prove that she was brain-damaged beyond all hope of recovery. I was glad, in a way, not just because I was on the right-to-die side during the debate in the days before her death. I was glad that Michael Schiavo, not a perfect person by any means but well-meaning, I think, was right in carrying out her wishes. I was glad that the judges who ordered her feeding tube removed hadn't mistakenly ordered the death of someone who could have lived as a conscious being again with proper treatment. And, yes, I'll admit that I was glad that the plans of the far-freakin'-nutso-religious-right (I'm not talking about politically conservative Americans here, friends, I'm talking about the real crazies waaaaaay over there on the right side of the spectrum who want to make America into a scary theocracy) were thwarted once by the judges and then again by the autopsy report.

Perhaps I should not have been party to the whole media mess that turned one family's battle into an ugly national brawl. If you've come here and slapped your forehead and gone "Oh, NO. Not another Terri Schiavo blog!!!" then I'm sincerely sorry. I sure didn't like hearing about it, but I followed it and am now commenting because I feared at that time that the larger issue was going to be exploited by the government and the already mentioned religious groups. I feared that yet another of our rights as individuals was going to be carved away under the guise of protecting those who can't protect themselves. Anyway...my family's having a Living Will party where we'll wine and dine a notary public and then sign and stamp and solemnly swear this summer and I guess that's one good thing that came out of the Schiavo family's difficulties.

I was so glad to find out today that what happened was the right thing for Terri, but I did and still do feel such sorrow for her parents, siblings, and husband. I hope so much that the media frenzy (which I admittedly monitored) will now die away. I pray that her family members, all of them, can now rest. Regain some sense of normalcy. Forgive themselves, if need be, forgive each other, and find peace. I'm so glad Terri's at rest.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

Ramon and I, being the stodgy mofos we are, did not go and see Star Wars III the first, second or even third week after its opening. We most certainly did not wait in line for hours with a crowd full of Sand Persons wearing burlap robes and toilet paper tubes taped to their eye sockets or women with cinnamon buns on their ears crying "Don't just stand there - try and brace it with something!" to see the first showing at midnight. This is not a criticism of fans who like to dress up, by the way. I think they're great, and one of my favorite people on earth has lately confessed to having had a Yoda costume in her possession until recently, so that's all right then.

We did all that 7 or 8 years ago when the original 3 episodes were re-released to theaters. We and our college cronies played cards by the hour in the lines to get to the first showing, raising our fists to the sky and screaming through tears when the first chord of the theme song blasted our eardrums, ushering in the beloved yellow words. I dunno, maybe we blew our wad then.

Don't get me wrong. I'm no cranky genX-er bemoaning the fact that the original 3 were the only true Star Wars and the next 3 are not. I'm not savvy enough to bitch and moan about CG overkill and I didn't hate Jar-Jar Binks much at all (I did want to kill that dreadful child who played Anakin in The Phantom Menace - "Now this is pod racing!!!" - grrrr). You won't hear me screaming "Greedo shot first!!!" ever. The dialogue was a little more...regrettable in Episodes I and II than in the original 3, and I don't know if they picked Hayden Christensen to play yet another sulky, whiny Skywalker on purpose (he was perfect for it, as was Mark Hamill before him) or if it was just a fortuitous accident, but overall I enjoyed watching episodes I and II quite a lot. True, I'll never say that they give me the same feeling as the original 3, but that's to be expected. 16 years have passed between Return of the Jedi and Phantom Menace - technology's different, George Lucas, bless him, is different, and I'm 12 years older than the first time I saw the original 3 (I was 18. Strict parents. Don't ask). But to recap, I'm a huge fan of the orginal 3 and the newer 2 are a great pleasure to watch.

However. The third one is my favorite of the prequels. [Not of all 6 - don't press me to pick THE favorite of all of the Star Wars movies. My head would explode.] I loved the action, loved watching Yoda lay the smackdown on more than one person, Hayden Christensen got better the more evil he became, and Padme's hair and clothing were up to their usual standard. The biggest complaint I have about the movie was the fact that [begin feminist rant] Padme Amidala, despite having been one of Naboo's greatest and youngest queens, then a wise senator for...I don't know...years? Months? and being considerably older than Anakin spent almost all of the movie following her tortured young husband around with wifely concern furrowing her brow and saying insipid things like "tell me, Annie" and "I wish we were back on Naboo in the lake country, just the two of us" and "Obi-Wan will help us". No leadership, no wisdom, no independent thought. The only time you see her (if memory serves me) acting in any capacity other than pregant wife is in a brief Senate gathering where she gets one moderately good quote; "So this is how freedom dies. To thunderous applause." [OK. Feminist rant over.] But for the rest, oh, how I loved the wookies, loved watching the sad grandeur as the Jedi died one by one, loved as always the scenery and big, fast, sparkly ships. And I adored that enormous lizardy-thing that Obi-Wan rode whilst sniffing around for General Greivous on that one planet.

One question: is my timeline all screwed up? For some reason I thought that from the beginning of the Emperor's reign (when Luke Skywalker is 0 years old) to the beginning of the end of the Empire (when Luke's - what - 18 at the oldest?) maybe, MAYBE 18-20 years have passed. And yet Obi-Wan goes from being mid-thirties at the oldest to something like a 70-year-old man. Is this just a casting snafu? I mean, Alec Guinness was perfect for an older Obi-Wan and in my opinion Ewan McGregor was likewise perfect for Obi-Wan's younger self, so is that sort of inaccurate and the way things turned out and we're all OK with it (which I am, most certainly)? Or am I indeed grossly mistaken about peoples' ages? I know this question has probably been asked a million times on the Internet and apologize if I'm wearying the hide-bound fans, but any insight would be appreciated.

Anyway, that's my first take on Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars in general. As far as true fans go I'm woefully ignorant, I confess, and anyone who says "big, sparkly ships" in an Episode III review should in all fairness be shot, but I'm in love with Star Wars, all of it, so my place in geek heaven, albeit a humble one, is assured. I hope.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

My husband's website.

Behold. The Ramon is on the web and you may now experience his depth and brilliance for yourselves. Stop by. See him. Know him. Love him.



Tuesday, June 07, 2005

On Turning 30.

Right Now: I'm waiting for Ramon to come home and listening with pleasure to "Passion: Music for The Last Temptation of Christ" by Peter Gabriel.

* WARNING - those of you who have already crossed this terrifying threshold will no doubt find the following entry full of banalities, ideas that have been thought up and chewed over an infinite number of times since the beginning of history, and many thoughts that seem deep but are not really upon reflection. I can't help it - I'm not that smart, don't think of myself as terribly deep (an imprecise and rather arbitrary descriptor anyway), and was a woefully indifferent student in school and college, so I'm not that well-educated either. That said, I do like being me and like thinking my thoughts, so since this is after all my blog, I'll write them down and let the demons howl.

So. I turned 30 two weeks ago tomorrow. This birthday was preceded by about 3 years of worry (fear of aging), frustration (that my Youth was very nearly wasted and I hadn't done any of the things I was supposed to before I turned 30), and not a small amount of anticipation - mostly the firm belief in the assurance that I couldn't help but become a kinder, wiser and more circumspect human being with the onset of years. This last event (Becoming Better) I have anticipated with a feverish desperation for a great deal of time - ever since I realized that I was blundering around hurting people's feelings with my (supposedly witty) sarcasm, making people feel uncomfortable trumpeting my beliefs, embarrassing my loved ones with my abrasive behavior and generally not, as my good friend Aly puts it, building true community with my words and actions.

I realize that no one visits my blog to hear me list off a bunch of complaints about myself, so let me say that a lot's going RIGHT with me. I love being me. However, I could no longer escape three facts as age 30 drew nearer and I began to seriously reflect on my life and my self up to this point: 1. I want to make people around me feel loved, respected, and comfortable and for the most part the social habits I'd formed were accomplishing exactly the reverse; 2. I want to live authentically but again hadn't formed habits that made me feel I was well along that road; and 3. I want to Do Things with the potential I carry within me, but once bloody again hadn't formed any habits that made me at all effective in steering my own life and development in any good directions. One major problem that I've entered therapy to deal with is a general lack of belief in myself. I've spent so many years being blinded by stupid things that I don't like about myself (I'm too fat, not beautiful enough, not smart enough, my motives are all bullocks, I'm a selfish, lazy person, etc.) that I haven't been able to see what's really wrong. Just habits. Habits that make me unhappy and ineffective. Not practicing skills that will make me content, loving, skillful, triumphant.

So, when it came time to really turn 30 - in the last 6 months or so - I started to really concentrate on my habit-forming. Since my birthday's coming and going, I've been ever more conscious of the small things I do that reinforce either that which makes me unhappy and ineffective and unhealthy (mentally and physically) or the things that make me into a more complete, fulfilled and actualized woman.

OK, I'm starting to bore myself.

For your amusement, I'll make a list.

Things I Was Supposed to do Before Turning 30: 1. Bring my weight down from 215 to about 150 or so - this has not happened. I'm not as sad as you might think about this since my ideas of beauty are changing and I have a husband who...uh...wants me bad. Real bad. All the time. I won't lie - I'd love to be little and firm and drive men and women around me into a fever of lust, and I'd at least like to be healthy which is why I haven't given up. But the desperate unhappiness I used to feel whilst looking in the mirror is gone. 2. Find True Love - this one I'm proud of. Ramon's the light of my life - my lover, companion, playmate, helper, sibling (rural Kentucky moment) and friend. I've worked hard to become a spouse that loves him as well as he deserves. And he's just hot. 3. Become a successful and popular recording artist - don't make me laugh. God. OK, I'm a singer, and I'll say a good one, but the idea of doing it for money day and night is not an appealing one for me. The sacrifice to become Great and Recognized is not one I'm currently willing to make. Every so often I get the urge to stand in front of large audiences and pour out my soul and receive blinding accolades, but for the most part my little job and little life with Ramon make me too happy to describe. And I have peace that if I someday can't NOT sing for a living any more, I'll get to it and it'll happen or not happen. Don't mistake me, though. I fully intend to reach my full potential as a musician. Right now I'm learning to play the guitar and I will drag it wherever I go and drive people crazy singing, singing, singing and you WILL like it. Oh, yes. But I no longer find my identity solely as a Singer. That habit was truly eating me alive.

One more thing - losing my innate arrogance has helped me a lot. I mean, not that it's totally gone...but for some reason I was walking around thinking a lot of myself and therapy has helped me see that though I'm a wonderful woman and deserving of love and happiness, I'm not anything much. And as the Hermit said to Bree in C.S. Lewis' "The Horse and His Boy", "It doesn't follow that you'll be anyone very special in Narnia. But as long as you know you're nobody very special, you'll be a very decent sort of Horse, on the whole..." My deep need to make fun of people is slowly tapering off. It seems odd that someone like me, growing up with a rather low opinion of myself, should also grow up arrogant, bullying and feeling pretty superior to people in general. But the more I truly love the person I am, treating myself gently and courteously and with respect, the more I find myself treating others the same way. And the more I see of my REAL shortcomings, as opposed to the false ones (fat, etc. - see list above), the more compassionately I deal with other people when their faults come to light.

So, Ash, you asked a simple question and got a long-ass blog entry in reply. To recap in a nutshell: turning 30 had great import for me because I decided to give it great import. I promised myself on May 25 to believe in me, to believe in my new attempts to form myself into someone better, to believe in the nobility of my motives in implementing change. I promised myself to live more authentically, to love people better, to let myself fail and fail again and earn no cruelty in my own response to my failure. And the thought of Time Passing, instead of frightening me, gave me hope. In Diane Reeves' words "I believe that God and Time are synonymous." And as time heals all wounds, time also makes hearts kinder, minds wiser in those who seek it. Though time pulls down all things, time is also required to build things up. Now that I'm 30 I've decided trust myself. Trust Time. Trust God.

My husband Ramon 6-04

Me on the Seattle-Bremerton ferry 4-05.

Monday, June 06, 2005

First blog entry.

How exciting. I decided that since I turned 30 a few weeks ago, I assumed a mantle of wisdom and responsibility that the world must be privy to. The universe will hear the silent thunderclap of my profoundest thoughts.

Can't think of anything to write this moment, though, so I'll have a good think and come back...