My Public Service Announcement for the Day

I have figured something out about blow driers. You know how when you go to the hairdresser and they blow out your hair and it has this amazing texture? I figured out today that it is the blow drier. Blow driers have these nets that catch the dust from the air circulating through them. The dustier they get, the worse the blowing. Apparently, the worse the blowing, the worse the texture of your hair too, because mine was looking and feeling seriously shabby. Today I couldn’t stand that it was taking me twice as long as it should to blow dry, and I got the clue that I hadn’t cleaned the dust thing in months and months, so I cleaned it. Voila! Not only did my hair dry quickly again, but my hair had that texture I get at the hairdresser, a texture I have been only intermittently able to achieve at home. Well, duh. It’s the blow drier. Now I know and if you’re reading this, so do you. Clean the lint trap on your blow drier, experience a new level of great hair texture at home.

Maldives Girl to Get 100 Lashes for Pre-Marital Rape

This story is simply horrifying. We have got to rebalance the imbalance between the masculine and feminine in this world.

See this story here.

Maldives girl to get 100 lashes for pre-marital sex

By Olivia Lang
BBC News

A 15-year-old rape victim has been sentenced to 100 lashes for engaging in premarital sex, court officials said.

The charges against the girl were brought against her last year after police investigated accusations that her stepfather had raped her and killed their baby. He is still to face trial.

Prosecutors said her conviction did not relate to the rape case.

Amnesty International condemned the punishment as “cruel, degrading and inhumane”.

The government said it did not agree with the punishment and that it would look into changing the law.

Baby death

Zaima Nasheed, a spokesperson for the juvenile court, said the girl was also ordered to remain under house arrest at a children’s home for eight months.

She defended the punishment, saying the girl had willingly committed an act outside of the law.

Officials said she would receive the punishment when she turns 18, unless she requested it earlier.

The case was sent for prosecution after police were called to investigate a dead baby buried on the island of Feydhoo in Shaviyani Atoll, in the north of the country.

Her stepfather was accused of raping her and impregnating her before killing the baby. The girl’s mother also faces charges for failing to report the abuse to the authorities.

The legal system of the Maldives, an Islamic archipelago with a population of some 400,000, has elements of Islamic law (Sharia) as well as English common law.

Ahmed Faiz, a researcher with Amnesty International, said flogging was “cruel, degrading and inhumane” and urged the authorities to abolish it.

“We are very surprised that the government is not doing anything to stop this punishment – to remove it altogether from the statute books.”

“This is not the only case. It is happening frequently – only last month there was another girl who was sexually abused and sentenced to lashes.”

He said he did not know when the punishment was last carried out as people were not willing to discuss it openly.

These Breasts were Made for Feeding

This article was published on Huffington Post and can be seen here. If you like it, buzz it up and feel free to share, with proper accreditation of course.

These Breasts were Made for Feeding

~ by Lara M. Gardner

Time magazine recently ran a cover story about long-term breastfeeding. It depicted a cover photo of a woman standing and staring into the distance, a three-year-old boy standing on a chair in front of her, attached to her breast. Needless to say, the photo and article caused an uproar. Some people thought it was obscene. Others, myself included, thought it was misleading, to say the least.

It doesn’t surprise me that breastfeeding and breastfeeding to an age that more naturally suits biology has come to the fore in the public consciousness. It fits right in with the resurrection of the right-wing war on women, statements by politicians that women should never have been able to vote, laws that force women to share their sex lives with employers, and basically anything that says women cannot and should not be able to determine anything about themselves, and most especially their sexuality or anything related to their bodies (unless they are getting their breasts cut off because they have cancer, then it is okay).

All this furor over women breastfeeding children beyond an age our culture has deemed appropriate (corporate profits aside) belies a greater underlying issue. Ultimately, any discussion of breastfeeding as obscene is part of this American cultural hostility against women. Our culture would like to maintain that women’s bodies are property and should be available at all times as sexual playthings. Seeing the female body as life-giving and nurturing (i.e., breastfeeding) is a far more powerful message, and certainly not something that can be owned and controlled.

The Time photo is offensive precisely because it is obscene, but it is not obscene because the young child in it is breastfeeding. Rather, it is obscene because it has taken something that is nurturing (and arguably scientifically best for children and women), and turned it into something salacious and indecent.  Nothing about the photo is in any way representative of breastfeeding as it is. It seeks to make breastfeeding seem suggestive and forbidden, something tawdry that should be stopped before it gets out of control, something that should be hidden under a blanket.  No matter that breasts are flaunted as sexual playthings in advertising and on magazine covers. In the latter context, breasts are kept in their place. It is the former that touches a nerve because it suggests that breasts might have another, more fundamental purpose, one that doesn’t involve breasts as property or women as objects.

Perhaps the editors of Time intended for the photo to inflame and kickstart further discussion about women’s bodies and women’s place in our culture. Perhaps they understood that breastfeeding is something so fundamental to being a woman, something as life-giving as the birth process itself, that it should be acceptable in our culture, without question and without blankets. Perhaps they wanted to make it loud and clear just how ridiculous it is to claim this act is obscene. Maybe they weren’t just trying to sell magazines. I doubt it, but it is possible.

(In the interests of full disclosure, this article was written while my 2 1/2 year old daughter nursed in my lap.)

My Eyes Cannot See

I am learning that my eyes cannot see.  I have for so long had one view of how my body should look, that undoing that view requires changing my eyes.  They simply cannot see me physically for how I am, or see that how I am is how I should be.

Nearly 13 years ago, after the birth of my first daughter, I gradually realized how much I had wrapped up who I am into how I look.  When suddenly I did not look as I had, I had to adapt. I didn’t like it, but I had no choice. I weighed more than I ever had in my life.  It was still below average, but I felt huge, and I realized that I had to accept it because no matter what I did, I did not lose those last 15 post-baby pounds.  Considering I had always been below-average thin, it wasn’t such a bad thing.  Just different.

When my daughter was four, she was in a baby ballet pageant with a bunch of other toddlers and small children.  They looked like adorable little sausages in their fluffy costumes and wings. I thought they were precious.

Watching them dance on stage, my mom leaned over and whispered, “I can’t believe they would let all those little fatties dance in those tight outfits.”  The words were a slap. I realized in that moment that I had been hearing similar statements my entire life.  My looks had been commented on and dissected for as long as I could remember.  Still weighing 15 pounds more than I had pre-baby, it was an eye opener, further realization that my eyes had been wearing the wrong glasses for my entire life.

Within another year I was back at pre-baby weight. It took nearly 4 years, and ultimately I shed the final pounds when I stopped breastfeeding my daughter at age four and a half.  I was satisfied with this.  I figured I had learned the lesson those four plus years of being bigger than I was used to.  I also thought my eyes could see, that I had learned with a different prescription.  I was learning so much more about life, and unlearning so much other early conditioning, the body image adjustments were simply part of all of it.

Since gradually understanding this, I have noticed that both my parents are still completely fixated on looks and the body. I have wondered what happened to them in their upbringing that this is how they think.  They are raising my brother’s daughter.  She is nearly 5 and somewhat clumsy.  In terms of western ideals of beauty, she is not excessively beautiful or not.  She is an average looking little girl, based on this definition.  Personally, I think she’s darling. Her impish personality shines through in all she does.  However, when my parents visit us, they compare her looks to those of my daughters.  “Isabel is so dainty.  She has such “feminine” features, just like you had and Milla has.  Sara isn’t like that.  Sara is a clod.  She’s so much like her mother.”  Comparisons, comparisons, all based on looks. It’s constant.  During an entire visit I will hear how beautiful Isabel is over and over.  I notice and it feels strange.  I try to direct the conversation elsewhere.  I know my parents.  If I object, they’ll clam up and not visit for a long time and it will be because I was “too critical.” So to keep the peace, I don’t say anything and remember that their visits are infrequent. They will not have the influence on my children that was had on me. But not poor Sara.

In any case, here I am again, post baby at two and a half years. I have begun working with a personal trainer.  I’m struggling to bring my weight back down to that pre-baby level.  It’s not working.  I’m getting a lot stronger, but I’m not getting thinner.  I am still breastfeeding and this may be part of it, but yesterday when working on one of the many moves I struggle through in personal training (oh, it is so much more work at this age than 20), I finally allowed myself to look into the wall of mirrors and see what it is I saw.  I have avoided these mirrors.  When I’m facing them for whatever reason, I will not look at me.  I do not want to see how I look.

Yesterday, I looked.  I realized that the looking was completely uncomfortable, but I forced myself to keep looking.  I realized that my hips are slightly wider than I want them to be, that my breasts are saggier.  I kept looking away, but then told myself, NO.  I looked again.  I stared. I examined my body completely.  I criticized the self there.  Too big, too big, too big, I thought.

Last night and since, I have been thinking about that.  If I saw a woman with the body that I have, I would not think she was too big. I would think she is fine.  Why the double standard for myself?  I simply can’t see physical body as it is.  I then concluded that my eyes cannot see.  They have never been able to see.  It’s another layer of early conditioning I will need to undo.  Our culture makes it much more difficult. My upbringing makes it more difficult. I’m not sure what the result will be for me, but I want to change my eyes so I no longer believe that someone with my shape who is not overweight, is getting physically stronger all over, and is still actually quite athletic is just fine, and that no matter what I weigh, no matter what I look like, it doesn’t really change who I am.

More Pithy Observation

Why is it that so many people think that for a woman to be self-actualized and equal — in the workplace, in the home, in her sexuality — she has to act like a man? I don’t see how sleeping with a bunch of men and ignoring them later makes me any stronger or wiser. I don’t see how shattering the glass ceiling by working ridiculous hours and ignoring my children gives me any sort of independence. I don’t see how ignoring household chores and letting my children care for themselves before they really understand who they are offers me freedom. So often what is held up as equality isn’t equal at all, it’s reduction of the female self to an outdated patriarchal view of how the world ought to operate. And I’m simply not on board with it.

That’s all.

Blue Valentine

I started watching Blue Valentine at the theater, but Isabel would not stay asleep and so I had to leave, but I wasn’t disappointed to be walking out.  The thing was depressing and I could not get into it.  I wanted to see what happened though, so a few weeks later I began watching again on video at the point I had left off, but stopped because I simply could not get into it.  Finally tonight I decided to finish it so I could get rid of the video.  I’m glad that I did.

Blue Valentine certainly captures the beginning and the end of a bad relationship.  It brings back memories.  Funny, they caught  the things in the beginning that would go wrong later.  Not all of the relationships in my life that have ended started in such a way that the ending could have been predicted, but the ones that have certainly seemed obvious in hindsight.  The performances in Blue Valentine, especially that of Michelle Williams, captured that feeling of the beginning of a relationship you know is bad for you.  You could tell that deep down she knew it wasn’t the best choice, yet she kept on anyway, living in magical thinking while simultaneously knowing she was headed for disaster.  In my case, in the relationship that most closely mirrors that in the film, I knew.  I knew and kept on anyway, compelled by some force within myself to try and make it work.  At times I felt like I was living two lives, one experiencing and one watching mute and helpless as the train headed straight for the ravine with no tracks.

The woman in Blue Valentine seemed to know too.  There were moments of pause before she smiled and responded to Mr. Disaster.  She had that same silence about her that I did in the beginning.  The scene at the dinner table near the end of the film, where she has brought him home to meet her family was a kind of personal deja vu.  The man I introduced to my family wasn’t a high school dropout whose mother had run off with another man at age ten, but the way that he spoke to them and their responses left little doubt that they were just as shocked and wondering What the hell is she doing with this guy?  What the hell, indeed.

There are some movies that are so bleak and without hope, I have no desire to watch them.  However, there are often movies that hurt to experience, and I still think they are worth my time and energy.  I am most certainly not one of those who only goes to see Pollyanna. I didn’t love Blue Valentine–I just could not get drawn in.  Yet it is a good film and I’m glad I saw it.  Even though one may know intellectually that everything experienced is also experienced by others, it does help to be reminded. For me, Blue Valentine was like that.  I’m not the first person on this planet who knew going into a bad relationship that I was making a huge mistake, but I kept on anyway.  One thing I know for sure–and I have reiterated it for myself having watched this film–I will never, ever compromise myself like that again.

Groupon Does Business with Pure Med Spa

After several commenters noted that Groupon in Dallas is giving out a Groupon on Pure Med Spa (aka Beauty Med Spa–same name, no difference), I sent them an email saying that they really ought to reconsider promoting a company that has done so much harm.  Here was Groupon’s response:

Hi Lara,

Thanks for your feedback and sorry for any inconvenience this has caused.
We do our best to feature businesses that see Groupon as an opportunity to gain loyal customers as well as advertise their services.

We stand by all of the businesses we feature and the deals we offer, but if you ever feel let down in any way when using your Groupon, we’ll be more than happy to work with you towards satisfaction! Also, thanks for the information! I will be passing this on to the right people.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Regards,

Sarah M.

support@groupon.com

I told them that I am not going to be let down, but others will be.  Who wants to be a loyal customer to a business that has stolen thousands of dollars from customers, burned people with lasers, caused one woman to require surgery because they damaged her legs, and on and on. They are being investigated by several state attorneys general and have been profiled on many television news programs for the harm they have caused.

It’s a shame that this is Groupon’s response considering the negative publicity associated with this company.  Groupon is promoting thieves and hucksters.  Send Groupon a letter letting them know if you have been harmed and what happened.  Maybe if enough people contact them, they will change their policy.

Women Dancing

Have you ever noticed that in movies that are “chick flicks,” billed and marketed to women, where there are women in a family going through something or women who are friends going through something, that the movie creators always throw in a scene of them dancing together, often on a bed, sometimes resulting in a pillow fight, usually for the montage of how special their relationship is, or sometimes it is to show how women who were enemies are now good friends, and then they use that in the preview to market the film?  Damn, it’s dumb.

Booby Squishing

Today I went in for my annual booby squishing appointment.  Having been a “victim” of breast cancer, I have to have them every year.  Compared to the one where the cancer was initially discovered, these are a cake walk.  In that initial visit, the doctors could see some specks at the top of the film and therefore assumed the specks were in my armpit.  They spent the next hour and a half attempting to squish my skinny shoulder into the mammogram machine.  It did not work.  It hurt.  Finally they figured out that it was possible that the specks could be on the other side of my breast, towards the center of my chest.  One try at that location and voila!  Pay dirt.  A lesson learned that day that has since been reiterated is that mammograms are easier if one is fleshier.  There is more flesh to grab in the flat, plastic jaws.

Today’s mammogram was relatively simple.  I knew from previous visits that mammogram appointments mean waiting around, so I brought some knitting. This visit was in the new “Safeway Cancer Center.”  I hate it when medical facilities or sporting facilities or any facility that isn’t what is being used is named for some corporation.  If I go into a grocery store and it is called Safeway, fine.  If I go into an office supply store and it is called Staples, so be it.  However, I don’t want to go somewhere that is going to squish my boobs and have it called Safeway.  It’s too much of a non-sequitur.  But as is often the case, I digress.

The new booby squishing center was clearly designed with the needs of women in mind.  In fact, it looked like they got together a focus group from Lifetime television and Oprah to create a calm, breathable space, in calm, mellow colors, with calm, earthy tones.  All of this is spoken in a calm, monotone voice.  One enters a lovely, spacious lobby with a fountain.  Let the deep breathing and Ohms begin.  You are escorted into a high-ceilinged, glass-enclosed waiting area.  Nearly immediately you are called back into the “guest space” –a nice name for another waiting room.  But wait, there’s more!  This space is lavishly furnished with low-slung chairs and sofas.  Surrounding this loungey place are all the doors to the little rooms where one leaves one’s top attire and personal belongings in a locker.  Each “guest” has a personal escort to show them their own special dressing room.  This person then informs them that there is coffee and tea in the corner for them while they wait.  Dutifully, the guests remove their top garments, lock all of it in the specially-designed wooden locker (nothing like the banging metal contraption I had in high school, these are sleek, wooden, and smell brand-new).  One exits the personal dressing room to wait in the low-slung chairs.  Calm, watery, pan flute music fills the air, further adding to the illusion that one is away at a spa, awaiting a massage and relaxation, rather than waiting to have one’s boobs squashed beyond recognition.  All of it is an illusion to distract us from the fact we are squishing our boobs to catch cancer.  A couple of the women, when they spoke, betrayed in their quivering voices the fear that this could be their fate. I wanted to let them know that sometimes, it really isn’t all that bad, even when the mammogram is positive, but I remained quiet, focusing on my knitting.

For me, nearly immediately upon sitting after changing out of my top clothes, my escort came to take me back for the actual booby squishing.  She performed her duties, creating the ethereal, opaque half moons from my breasts.  I find it intriguing that mammogram photos are so moon-like when the moon has long been considered the planetary body for women.

I had a mammogram a year ago.  At that time, Isabel was about three months old.  When the plastic plate slid into place on the top of my right breast, milk squirted out in about five different directions.  I loved that.  It seems so appropriate that my gland was doing what it was supposed to while taking the photos.  Today, my breast was emptier, Isabel having just supped shortly prior to my appointment.  No milk came out at all.  When no milk flowed, I realized I actually had hoped that it would.

After the photo-taking, my mammogram technician escorted me back to the waiting area.  I gathered up my knitting, grabbed a cup of tea, and waited. And waited some more.  During this time, a dozen women came through in the same pattern.  The escort brought them in, showed them their dressing room, they sat for a moment ensconced in their pond-green dressing gown, then were called away, only to return shortly to wait and wait. In the meantime, some who had been there were called into their dressing room for a “private discussion.”  I say private in quotes because we could all hear what was being said, that the films were clear and we will see you next year.

I expected this, that my films would be clear.  Then I thought for a moment, what if they’re not? What if they call me back to squish me some more?  I imagined me telling them that I knew something was up because this is what happened last time:  they called me back for more and more and more, flattening and pressing and prodding my flesh.  I imagined that if this were the case then 2011 would begin as awfully as so many of the last years have, and I wondered if this is how life would always be, and then I realized I was going a little off the loony end and returned back to the spa room with it’s trickling music, low light, and women in green gowns.

And no, they did not take me back for more squishing.  My escort called my name, called me to my dressing room, and let me know the films were fine and they would see me next year.  All was well.

I liked this place, this woman spa space for boob squishing. I could have sat there and knitted all day.  As I waited with the other women, the only thing missing was some womanly conversation.  If that had been present, the illusion would have been complete.  As it was, this missing piece kept it from being all it could have been, but still it was all right.  Let some grocery corporation pay to keep us from contemplating why it is exactly we’re hanging out with strangers and squishing our boobs in a modern day female communal space, creating moons and attempting to avert disaster.  Whatever works, right?

I Hope We Get You, Pure Med Spa, Britesmile, et al

I have completed the article and begun submitting it to magazines. It is my goal to get the issue as much widespread attention as possible.  I would also like to educate women about how to keep from getting taken by companies like Pure Med Spa.  They keep opening (and closing) under different names so consumers can’t keep up with who is legitimate and who is a thief.  There are steps consumers can take to keep from getting harmed by any med spa company, and especially this company run by these crooks.

Pure Med Spa, Brite Smile, Crooks All

I finally started the article I have been planning to write for over a year.  Every two or three days another comment comes in on the company detailing further bad acts.  Over and over people tell stories of failed treatments, closed doors, lost money, and injuries.  I have been called by Jeff Nourse.  I have spoken to employees and customers.  An attorney general called me to ask what I knew about the company’s practices.  A local Portland television station profiled a victim of Pure Med Spa and called to get my input.  A financier in New York called because the CEO and CFO had contacted him to borrow money.  Basic research led him to this site and to me.  Along the way Pure Med changed to Brite Smile, and the stories continued.  More money lost.  More people harmed.

It is time to get the word out that this company is a public health hazard.  When another story popped into my inbox tonight, I stopped reading my book, pulled out the computer, and started working on the story.  The words are flowing.  I am going to write about this disaster of a company who steals its customers’ money, disfigures and scars their bodies, and runs rampant over its employees.  Then I am going to submit the story to every major woman’s magazine in this country.  Hopefully one of them will realize that this story is a big one, and that in order to protect consumers, the story needs to be told so that no one gives them another penny and nobody else gets hurt.

Some people have asked me Why aren’t these people in jail?  They are crooks!  They hurt me!  They stole my money! Why indeed.  Something needs to happen to stop them before someone else gets hurt.  If we can’t jail them, at least I can try and stop them with my words.

Beached Whale

I’m just stuck, energetically, physically, mentally.  I think it’s pregnancy, but I’m not totally sure.  There have been so many changes in the last six months that could be attributable to this logjam.  However, I have experienced major changes before and not felt so inept and unable.  It’s weird having been a person with a quick mind and quick body turning into someone who has difficulty thinking of words and can’t just leap out of bed or a chair.  I feel like a beached whale, stuck here on shore, lying in the salt surf, seeing what was all around me, yet unable to do anything about it.

We recently took a trip back to Portland. While there, we ran around hither and thither, visiting and seeing family and friends.  In the past such a visit would have been delightful to me.  If there had been a free moment, I would have wanted to fill it.  This time, I was exhausted a third of the way into the trip.  A couple of times I just ran into a physical wall in the middle of the day.  I had to say Enough is enough! and go lie on the bed and take a nap.  Pregnancy was definitely the culprit there.

The first trimester of this pregnancy was a nightmare.  I suffered severe perinatal depression without knowing such a thing existed.  My boyfriend thought I was an alien, and wasn’t very supportive as a result.  I still looked like my normal self, but I was not the same person.  I overreacted to the smallest things.  I would sob and sob and sob for hours.  My brain completely fogged up.  I finally realized I was experiencing something physical, so I decided to do some research.  In the process I found Brooke Sheilds’s book on her experience with postpartum depression and discovered that a pregnant woman or one who has just given birth who has gone through an enormous amount of stress prior to the pregnancy is much more likely to suffer from depression.  Considering the level of stress in the years leading up to being pregnant, coupled with the stress of moving across the country, moving in with my new boyfriend, getting pregnant, moving away from Milla for the first time ever in her life, and I was a perfect candidate for peri or post natal depression.

Based on this information, I did further research and discovered that the leading expert on peri and post natal depression was based in New York, not far from where we live.  Her name is Dr. Margaret Spinelli.  She was conducting a study to determine whether counseling a pregnant woman to improve her interpersonal relationships would improve her depression and reduce the likelihood of it occurring after pregnancy.  I had a consultation with Dr. Spinelli and she admitted me into the study.  Since going, my moods have improved dramatically.  It also seemed to help just to know that I wasn’t actually going nuts but suffering from a physical response to being pregnant under stress, and to understand that the troubles in my relationship were making things worse.

I’m still waiting for my boyfriend to understand that my emotional reactions to most things are normal for a pregnant woman, and especially a woman with perinatal depression, but I feel better understanding that how I feel comes from a diagnosable source, one that will go away when my hormones settle down, and if they don’t, there is medication available to assist me.  Considering the level of improvement I’ve experienced without drugs, I am genuinely hoping to avoid that route completely.  I also make sure to keep my sugar intake to a minimum and exercise, because I definitely feel worse when I eat sugar or don’t exercise.

Even without perinatal depression, the physical demands of pregnancy aren’t much fun.  I did not like being pregnant with Milla.  This pregnancy is no exception.  When I was pregnant with Milla I would hear about women who said they never felt better that when they were pregnant.  My response to that was they must have felt pretty crappy the rest of their life!  I like having a clear brain.  I like having a lithe body.  I can’t wait to have the little baby out here so I can get off this beach and back into the ocean.

Mail Order Bride

I went from nothing to do to too much to do in the space of a day.  It’s weird how life can go like that.  I’ve been working at this costume shop for a little extra cash before I leave this island.  It’s so boring most of the time, I can hardly stand it.  Yesterday there were a lot of customers, but most of the time, it’s sitting around staring at the piles of stuff in there.  The shop is crazy stuffed with costumes and junk. Some of them are so beautiful and elegant, but others are so crappy, I can’t imagine anyone will ever touch them.  A few days ago, just to ease the boredom, I started combing wigs. The place is filled with wigs, hundreds of them. They are fun to comb.  I like the transition from crack whore tangles to silky smoothness.

Finding costumes for people can be fun, especially people who are willing to get into it and find something interesting to wear.  Some of them though, can be so yuck. Today, for instance, this toady little man came in with his wife.  She was Thai, her body childlike and tiny.  He was short, heavyset, in his early 20’s, with tatoos on his arms.  He wanted her to have a “sexy” costume for work on Halloween. I did not ask what “work” was, but gathered from things they said that it was in the sex industry.

Nothing the woman tried on satisfied the man. Most of our smallest costumes were too large for her and the children’s costumes weren’t sexy enough (um, yeah).  So she’s putting things on and taking them off and anything that looks good, he says no.  He kept talking on his mobile phone, acting self-important to be doing so.  She’s looking through things, finding stuff she likes, taking it to him, only to have him shake his head no, vetoing costumes as either too big or not “sexy” enough.  At one point, the other girl who works in the shop and I were chatting about Whole Foods Market.  We laughed because I called it Whole Paycheck.  I said, That store is so expensive.  It’s a total ripoff. Toady Man, upon hearing this, walks over by a rack of clothes and, honest to god, pulls out a wad of cash and starts counting it right there in the store!  He peeled back fifties and hundreds, counting the wad several times to ensure we saw how much money he had.  What a fucking idiot.

I giggled to the other employee and rolled my eyes. After a bit, he went outside to talk again on the phone while his wife shopped.  We finally convinced her to try on a cute and very short Egyptian, Cleopatra style dress.  It was kind of plain, with a gold cord that wraps around and around.  We accessorized her with a snake hair ornament, arm bands, strappy sandals, and a fantastic brass neck piece.  She looked pretty amazing, considering every other item she had attempted to wear made her look like a child trying to dress as a hooker.  She even seemed excited at the possibility, a happy glint in her eye apparent for the first time since she had walked in the door nearly an hour previous.

Dressed and smiling, pleased at last to have found a costume that seemed to show enough skin for her husband while looking cool at the same time, she walked out for the verdict.  We heard voices, his raised, hers contrite.  Minutes later she came back into the store and told us he did not like it. She apologized as she removed the jewelry and costume and put back on her clothes.  No problem, we told her.

After they left in their giant black Escalade, I could not stop thinking of that horrible man with his wad of money, obscene car, and mail-order Thai wife whom he sought to dress in as slutty an outfit as possible.  Everything about him made me cringe.  He was desperate to show just how important he was, how much more money he had than us pitiful costume store employees who complained about the cost of Whole Foods.  His wife seemed unhappy, trying desperately the entire time we were in the place to please him, but he would have none of it.  Yuck.  He was reprehensible.

Thinking on it later, I realized that she is likely in a quite precarious position.  Married as she is, if something happens and she is no longer married to him, she would probably have to return to her native country.  I realize I am speculating, but it is easy enough to imagine this being less than desireable for her, a means for him to control everything she does.  Marriages like this one are legalized sex slavery.  If she doesn’t want to return home, this man has control over her, it’s as simple as that. Anyway, I don’t know the whole story.  I could only take away my observations, and what I saw was pitiful. I hope this woman achieves in her life all she desires.  I hope for her sake if her story is as I imagine it, she is able to find a way to live her life in spite of her husband and find happiness.  I wish her well.

Smitten

I’m completely smitten.  Okay, here’s an aside.  How is it that a person who reads as many books as I do, who loves words and word origins, who loves language actually, can have gone through life and not known that smitten is a past participle of smite?  How is this?  I am completely pitiful.  I should have known this.  I knew its use as an adjective, as in struck with a hard blow, grievously afflicted, and very much in love.  I knew these definitions.  I did not put together that the very much in love use was metaphoric for being struck.  Cupid’s arrow and all that.  I make these discoveries that there are so many things I do not know.  Sometimes they seem so obvious, I wonder how it is I came this far in life and did not know them.  It’s like driving down the same road every day your entire life and suddenly noticing a gas station that has been there for years.  Duh.

Missing is So Unkind

What possible biological basis can there have been for us to evolve a mechanism that allows us to feel like a limb has been removed when we miss another human being?  Is it truly only the mating sequence? Why couldn’t our biology be content to know another mate will someday take the place of the first?  Or is it that in ancient times if our mate died or was lost to us, we couldn’t easily find another?  Is that it? Maybe it is something else.  Whatever it is, I just don’t get it.

Perhaps it is some other mechanism that has simply gotten stuck in the missing another human category.  Maybe we’re supposed to feel serious missing when we lose an actual limb because losing an actual limb could pose a serious detriment to our ability to hunt and gather.  It would impact our ability to find a mate. Perhaps the two are juxtaposed in some manner in certain brains.

I know I am not the only one like this.  I watched this film last night called My Blueberry Nights.  One character, rather than live without the person who left him, drives himself into a tree.  This after drinking himself into oblivion every night for months.  Yep, his limb missing mechanism was severely out of whack. And the woman who left him realized after he was dead that she missed him like a missing limb as well.  So her missing limb mechanism was juxtaposed onto her missing partner as well.  Maybe I’m onto something here.

I am going to see the person who I miss in a little over a week.  Ironically, I am feeling his absence more acutely as his visit draws closer.  It is like knowing he will be here, that he is somehow within reach, makes the desire more visceral.  I have to fight myself NOT to send him text messages telling him how much I miss him and all the things I want to do with him when he gets here.  I have to force myself to be here and now, focus on my legs, focus on my arms, recognize they are actually in place and I do not require a prosthesis.  I can do this.  When I do this it is easier.  See brain?  Limbs intact.  Man will arrive shortly so stop thinking about him so much.

Then he calls and I’m listening to Woody Herman sing about being in love and clouds having silver linings and his own melancholy without his dear, the piano tinkling perfectly in the background, and I feel that old familiar pull in my belly.  Gads, missing is so unkind.

Lowering the Glass Ceiling

See this piece on Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lara-m-gardner/lowering-the-glass-ceilin_b_128346.html

I would like to take you on a journey of the imagination…

Imagine that Sarah Palin is not a woman, but a man.  We’ll call him Mr. Palin.  Mr. Palin has been mayor of a small town in Alaska, and governor of that state for less than two years, a state whose entire population is less than that of most US major metropolitan areas and in this position.  In this position, Mr. Palin is being investigated for questionable conduct.  Imagine that he obtained his passport within the last couple of years, and that he considers foreign policy experience living next door to another country.  Take it further and imagine he believes the earth was created in a few thousand years, that dinosaurs roamed the earth with humans, and that creationism should be taught in public schools.  Suppose also that this man believes women should not have the right to choose, and that rape victims should pay for their own rape kits.  Imagine Mr. Palin hunted moose from a helicopter and sought removal of environmental protections for polar bears. Imagine he has no knowledge of financial markets, the cold war, weapons systems, or Middle Eastern history.  Imagine all of this and more.

If this were true, and Sarah Palin were a man, would he have even been on the longest list of potential US vice-presidential candidates for any political party?  It would be unthinkable.

Why are the standards for this woman running for vice-president so much lower than they would be for a man?  Shouldn’t the standards be the same?  To determine whether someone did not get a job because of something other than merit, simply slip whatever that person is not into the position in your mind and ask yourself whether the same standards would apply.  If there are disparities in the standards required between two people seeking the same position, it is quite likely that discrimination is occurring in some form, even if it is allowing someone to be worse at something in an effort to pretend there is no -ism taking place.

Here, we have a woman running for vice-president who is grossly underqualified.  Those who support her claim that her position as a vice-presidential candidate is evidence of women shattering the glass ceiling.  Actually, the opposite is true.  Allowing her to take a position for which she is not qualified and giving her extra points for being a woman is the ultimate in sexism:  it is using gender as a qualifier rather than merit.  Beyond the obvious arguments against her abilities, her position as a vice-presidential candidate assumes on some level that a qualified woman could not perform the job.  Sarah Palin’s place on the Republican ticket does not shatter the glass ceiling, it lowers it.

My Response to a Comment

Some person commented on the letter I posted written by Lyra Kilston and Quinn Latimer.  In the letter, Kilston and Latimer make several statements about Sarah Palin.  They then ask that those who agree Palin is the wrong choice for VP and that she is not representative of women send them a statement to this effect. It was their intention to take all such statements and create a blog with all of the statements they receive.  I posted the letter because I fundamentally agree with the premise that Palin is wrong for VP and wanted to allow others who agree to add their voices to the mix.

The commentator stated that I lose “credibility” when I publish something that isn’t the truth.  On that point, I agree.  If I am asserting something factual and it is wrong or inaccurate, I lose credibility in my assertion.  I also agree that I should fact check something before I publish it.  (Incidentally, I did check to ensure the purported letter writers had in fact written and disseminated the letter.)  However, my issue with the commentator and the reason I am responding via blog post is to point out that I did not allege anything other than that I agreed with the letter writers.  How could I fact check my own opinion or lose credibility when I have not attempted to persuade anyone of anything that would require my words be reliable?  I have little doubt that the comment writer intended that I somehow lose credibility by agreeing with persons she claims make inaccurate statements, yet I reassert my original assertion:  I agree with the letter writers.  No one should have any reason to disbelieve this assertion.  Does anyone think that in posting this letter I might actually want Sarah Palin for vice-president?  I seriously doubt it.

The fundamental point of the Kilston Latimer letter is that Sarah Palin is wrong for the vice-presidency and that although she has a vagina, she does not represent American women.  They wanted to create a statement by women saying as much.  Because I find Palin’s positions on a number of issues to be completely reprehensible, I wanted to add my words to this statement.  I wholeheartedly believe that Sarah Palin is the wrong choice for vice-president of the United States.  She may not have taken the steps necessary to successfully ban books in her library, but she asked what would happen if she tried (per factcheck.org).  Yet her position on certain books is the tip of the iceberg as far as I’m concerned.  Her lack of education and experience, her methods for management, her perspective on the environment, her religious views, her previous actions while in office as mayor and governor, as well as so much more all compile to create what I perceive as a disaster should the unthinkable happen and she and McCain are elected.  If there is any doubt as to my credibility in holding this opinion, I hope this post puts it to rest.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

So I’ve been convincing myself that it is okay to skip inconsequential writing because I’m working on a book.  The problem is that when I stop blogging or at least writing in my journal, then the words start pounding on the inside of my skull again and I start turning a little nuts.  That’s not a good thing.  I am not the best human when I am nuts.  I guess even when I work on a book I will have to write some little blurb here or in the journal or I’ll never end up completing the book because I will be in an insane asylum.  What a wierd brain I have, one that requires I write in order to be functional.  It also doesn’t seem to remember this until it’s going blathering nuts and I start wondering why I’m such a bitch all the time then I think Well duh, Lara.  It’s like food and sleep.  I know if I’m off and losing my mind, food and sleep are usually required.  I should add writing to the list because lately, I’ll have the food and sleep and still be going nuts.  Duh.  Write.

I have had a lot of thoughts about the political situation in this country, but there is so much to say and so many people saying it, I feel a bit overwhelmed to even know where to begin.  The progressives seem to understand that the McCain Palin ticket is a disaster.  It’s all we’re hearing about.  My question is whether average Joe American who pays little attention to politics can see past the fact that Palin has hot legs and McCain is a good ol’ boy.  Unfortunately, I’m not so sure.  Of course, there is the consolation that a person with these views would not likely vote, but that’s not much of a consolation.

I read an op ed piece today whose author said he did not want someone he could take out for a beer as the leader of the free world, he wanted a super hero.  My sentiments exactly.  I would love to try and reach average Joe American with that image…we need superheroes running our country or we will not be leaders for very long.  I cringe at the thought of what the rest of the world will think if McCain is elected, how humiliating that will be, especially after Bush.  I am not a person who gives much credence to what other people think, but I do care that our country does not appear as a pathetic joke.  If that moron and his Caribou Barbi are elected (or steal the election, which is a possibility with Diebold still in the picture), we may as well kiss our asses goodbye.  Or stage a revolution.  Unfortunately, in 2008, I do not see many people willing to go there.

I read another article where the author argued that we need to send Hilary after Palin.  I could not agree more.  This would eliminate the complaint that the men are picking on her because she is a woman, and Hilary is brilliant as an attack dog.  I wish she would do this.  Come on, Hilary.  If you are with the Democrats, do this for your country.  Take that pitiful excuse for a woman down.  She wants to claim she’s on your side, but she’s so far from anything you represent, she deserves your intelligence, your debate, everything you have to offer.  Go for it.  Do it for the country.  Do it for women.

Apparently Obama went on the O’Reilly Factor.  Here’s hoping they don’t edit the piece before airing it in such a manner to make Obama the fool.  I don’t trust that O’Reilly bastard or his network one bit.  Putting someone who can answer questions intelligently next to a man who screams, cajoles, and calls names….I’m not so sure. We will see.

Well this is it.  We’ll see if I can tame the word poundings.

Today is Autumn’s Birthday

Doesn’t that sound like the first line of a poem? Speaking metaphorically of course.  I am not, however, speaking metaphorically.  August 16 is the day my Autumn was born, in 1993.  She died July 19, 2005.  I chose her the day she was born and she died in my arms.  She lived her life with me.

Most people today will go on and on about this being the anniversary of the day Elvis died.  I have not yet seen any news sites or anything to proclaim this event, but having spent the last fifteen years noticing August 16, it is difficult not to notice this other event associated with it.  I find it remarkable that two decades after the man’s death, the date is still so publicly memorialized.  Ah, the cult of celebrity.

Autumn was a gem.  She was my little partner.  I knew before she was born that I would have a dog and imagined her riding with me in the car.  My boyfriend at the time and I drove across the US to go live in Virginia/Tennessee (yes, on the border), and the whole way there I fantasized about getting a dog.

I chose Autumn within weeks of our arrival; she came home five weeks later.  I went and held her every day from the time she was born, before she had eyes or ears.  I’ve since heard from a rather know-it-all dog breeder that this was completely dangerous because Autumn could have supposedly acquired some disease or other from me, but she did not.  All she acquired was the desire to spend all of her time with humans and particularly with me.  Throughout her life she followed me wherever I would go, no matter how trivial or short the trip.  Going into the kitchen for a glass of water?  There was Autumn, at my side. Going for a short visit to the toilet?  Autumn would rise from wherever she had been lying, follow me in, sigh heavily as she laid down next to me, then rise again thirty seconds later to follow me back to wherever I had been.  I spent a term at school in Munich, Germany when Autumn was just a puppy.  Upon my return, she peed on the sidewalk at the airport, her face and demeanor obviously relieved that the person she loved and remembered from the time before she had sight or sound was back.  The person she adored had not disappeared forever.

Autumn’s fur was golden, laced throughout with brown hairs and white.  She was the color of autumn, hence the choice for her name.  She had a white patch on her chest, on two of her toes, and on the tip of her tail.  She had the most beautiful brown eyes and I took it as a compliment that people often commented that we looked alike, even more so the year I wore brown contact lenses.  Two of her teeth were broken in half from carrying around and chasing rocks.  The dog loved fetching.  I would mark rocks and then toss them into three or four feet of water in a moving stream.  Invariably Autumn retrieved the marked rock from the floor of that stream.  She loved to swim, she loved to fetch, diving was the natural result.

Her last years were not pleasant for her.  First she acquired interstitial cystitis, then diabetes.  All of these I believe now came from problems with her adrenal glands.  At the time, no one really knew what caused interstitial cystitis, but I’ve learned that recent research shows a link to adrenal malfunction.  All along the doctors thought she had Cushings disease, although she never tested positive for it.  Considering Cushings is an adrenal malfunction and Autumn’s diseases were all manifestations of adrenal malfunction, I think it’s a safe assumption that this gland did not work properly for her.  Diabetes was the worst.  In spite of the twice daily insulin shots I gave her, she wasted away over nearly two years.  She lost her sight and grew thin.  Yet until the day she died she was lively and happy, chasing sticks and frisbees she could smell even though she could not see, snuggling close to me under the covers after I lifted her onto the bed to be with me.

I am so glad she was born and spent her life with me.  I have another beautiful dog named Molly I chose from the humane society when Autumn was two.  Molly is a photo negative of Autumn–black where Autumn was yellow, and yellow where Autumn was dark brown.  Like two children with their own personalities, each were individuals.  Autumn was outgoing, a textbook Leo in personality, Molly is timid and precise.  Autumn would attack the vacuum cleaner.  Molly goes and finds a corner as far from the sucking machine as possible.  She often worries she might be in trouble when you call her. She stares at the floor if someone else has been naughty, human or canine.  She will go and hide if another dog potties on the floor, fearful of the possibility someone might get mad.  I have now had Molly longer than I had Autumn.  She lives with one of my best friends in Oregon.  I have missed her stealthy presence, hiding under my bed or in my closet.  My friend calls me.  He tells me Molly is in the closet. He sent me a photo of her in there staring at his boots.  He coaxes her into his basement to eat her food and to get away from the summer heat.

I realized this week that this is the first time that I have not had a dog since I brought Autumn home in September 1993.  Growing up we always had dogs.  I am not used to being dogless.  I like the presence of another in the house always there.  I enjoy having my own pack.  I miss it.  I wonder, sitting here thinking, if maybe I have been experiencing a version of empty nest these last few years, years I have been wanting a purpose, needing something to do, feeling sort of lost.  I honestly enjoy taking care of my babies, whether they are dogs or humans. The happiest days of my life I remember are the times when I was taking care of my dogs or my baby girl.  My girl has grown enough into herself that she does not require that level of care anymore.  My dogs are all gone.  How 1950’s housewife of me that taking care of a house and babies is what brings me the most contentment.

I miss Autumn.  I love her.  Her life is one of the two most important things I have ever experienced.  For her life and the time she shared with me, I am grateful.  I realized at the birth of my daughter that celebrating one’s birth is a celebration of the fact of being born.  I celebrate the fact that Autumn was born.  Happy birthday to you, dear one.  Thank you for living your life with me.

If you would like to read more about Autumn, I have written about her here. More about Molly can be read here, and the story of her death can be read here.

Her Hair was Attractively Styled

I am not one of those women who is able to maintain a perfect beauty regimen. In fact, I’m pretty pathetic. I sit here typing at the computer and one of my nails is splitting. I am nearly pathologically unable to quit playing with it until I find a nail file. The urge to pick and chew at the piece that is sticking out near the split is overwhelming. I finally give up and bite the damn thing off, making the nail ragged and ugly. The fact the nail split in the first place is part of the evidence against my ability to maintain western trappings of femininity. Don’t get me wrong, I do not go out of my way to eschew such contrivances. I don’t purposely dress in sacks or not shave my pits or grow a mustache or not wear deodorant or any of it. In fact, such things would bother me immensely. I actually LIKE certain aspects of western trappings of femininity, I’m just not very good at them. And so I exist in my little, pitiful, half-baked attempts.

I have a wonderful hairdresser. She does such a lovely job putting in highlights and cutting my hair. My hair is naturally curly and I straighten it. My hairdresser knows this and cuts it accordingly. She straightens it for me beautifully. Even I am capable of straightening it fairly well, and during the time after it is straightened and before I go to bed or get it wet, it looks moderately attractive. Yet I’ve developed a habit of staying up too late with the male person in my life, so when I have to get up and go to work, I do not want to spend the extra 45 minutes showering, straightening, and coiffing. I would rather sleep. The result is that my hair has odd bumps in it in places where it has been slept on, the places that tried to return to their natural state of curliness, but did not quite make it. Most mornings I throw it into a ponytail, make a feeble attempt at presenting my bangs in a semblance of order, and head out the door.

Oh, and the bangs. Do you know why I have bangs? I have not had bangs in over a decade. I’m not partial to them. Last summer, my hairdresser noticed my hair had thinned significantly. She deduced this was the result of radiation treatments the winter before. Small problem…radiation does not cause hair loss unless the radiation is on the hair. Mine was not. We decided stress was the culprit then. In spite of my attempts to stave off the loss, the hair continued to break and thin. One morning while straightening my hair, a large chunk of hair fell right into my hands. Its ends were burned brittle, sizzling and smelling as I held them. WTF?!?!? It turns out my blowdryer had been sucking hair into its coils and burning it off my head. Hence, the hair loss. I went into hairdresser and described what had been happening. As she laughed in horror, she attempted to repair my mangled head. The result was bangs. I was forced into bangs and layers to deal with the trauma. Yikes. The hair is growing back now. It is healthy and it is thickening. I have pretty thick hair so it’s noticeable when it thins. Since having this happen, I am grateful for my thick hair. I like the way it hangs when it’s thick. It’s pitiful when it’s thin.

The other beauty area in which I am woefully lacking is makeup. I can’t wear it. When I do, I forget, rub my eyes or cheek, and smear it across my face. Lovely! I wear lipstick. I’m actually kind of abulic about wearing lipstick.  The lipstick takes over and informs me that it will be worn, whether I like it or not.  Have you ever seen a baby mouse or rat?  They are so cute when they are really little, just after they get their fur.  What is really cute is how they try to wash themselves before they are physically able to do so.  It is apparent that they are driven by forces outside themselves to clean themselves like they do.  It’s the same way with me and lipstick.  I’m driven by a force outside myself to wear it.  Often when it’s on it’s way to my lips I realize I’ve unthinkingly reached into my purse and removed the stick to put it on.  It’s rote.  I do not like the feel of my lips without lipstick; they are too dry. I also do not like the look of my lips when they match my skin. I like them to look reddish, like lips. I like them to show. Women’s magazines often ask some movie star what one makeup item she would take to a desert island (in order to attract the palm trees or crabs, I suppose). My one desert island item would be lipstick. It’s true. I admit it. Please do not think less of me for this. Give me points for admitting it.

My worst beauty area by far is my fingernails. I cannot keep them manicured properly. I try, oh yes, I do. I file them. I keep them even. I attempt to force back the mountains of cuticle. I let them grow so they look sort of long. I just can’t keep them looking pretty. I have paid for professional manicures before. They look ragged and sad within hours. It’s simply not worth the money. I’ve also found that nails that are too long get in the way of doing the things I like to do. When I do such things with long nails, the long nails break. This is not attractive. I do pay for pedicures. I like having my feet pampered and since my toes are further away from people’s lines of sight, they don’t notice the dings as much as the ones on my fingernails. Part of the problem is that my fingernails are ridiculously thick. Where many of my friends complain of thin and brittle nails, I have the opposite problem. One split goes deep and filing it away does nothing. I have to cut the whole thing off, behind the origin of the split, or it just keeps going. Not good. I’ve had some nasty splits that went into my nail bed because of this. They hurt. I am also constitutionally unable to keep polish looking nice. For one thing, my nails are short and fat things. They match my short and squat fingers. For someone who is rather tall and very thin, I certainly have the fingers and fingernails of a troll. They are like mini sausages. I do not have willowy fingers or hands. My hands look like they could pick up a hammer and start banging something with precision. They’re workers’ hands. And they’re ugly. The nails match. Good times.

I am also woefully lacking in the ability to dress femininely. I always miss, usually on accessories. I see girls who are all put together. Their hairs are tamed, their nails are polished and manicured, their makeup is flawless, and their clothes are pert. Not me. My hairs are wily, my nails are squat and splitty, my makeup is lipstick and sometimes some dark circle coverup, and my clothes seem thrown on at the last minute, even when I’ve attempted to look put together. I just can’t quite manage it. Maybe if I had a personal assistant and makeup artist I could do it. I suspect, however, that I would give such a person fits.  She would follow me around rolling her eyes, doing her best to remake what I had undone.  Such an assistant would need to be the sort who likes to watch her work destroyed and making attempts at rebuilding.  I would be a good project for someone like that.  If I were famous, People Magazine would have a field day with me. I’d be the constant go to girl for hideous shots of stars looking pitiful. Even better, they could use me in the See, they’re just like US! section of Us Magazine.  She gets toilet tissue stuck to her shoe!  She spills gravy on the front of her blouse!  She forgot to zip up her fly!  She drops her groceries, keys, and purse then flails mightily to recover them! They’d love me. They would never run out of fodder.

Since typing this, I’ve managed to worry down the nail split somewhat. It’s raggedy and needs a file, but it’s better than it was when I began. It’s hopeless–I’ll never be a model of western femininity. I couldn’t do it if I tried.

Get a Grip

I have been hearing all the pundits and dj’s on the radio talking about the “explicit” Miley Cyrus photos in Vanity Fair.  On and on and on.  One woman on NPR just would not shut up about how horrible it was, how sexualized she was, how taken advantage of, what a wretched human Annie Lebowitz was, how Miley was being exploited, how her parents were to blame for this travesty.  Just listening to her was enough to make me want to punch the radio.

I get Vanity Fair.  It arrived in the mail.  Curious what all the fuss was about, I opened to the photos.  What the fuck? I heard from one radio commentator how the photos with her dad were incestuous.  What a load of crap.  What kind of culture do we live in that a father sitting as this man is with his daughter is considered incestuous?  It says more about the people who automatically assume sexuality between two people of opposite sex than it does about the objects of this photo.  There is nothing incestuous about it.  It is intimate, yes, but that does not make it sexual. And why shouldn’t a father and daughter be intimate?  It is healthy; it doesn’t mean they are going to fuck.

Regarding the photo of Miley’s back, it depicts her as the woman she is becoming.  There is nothing pornographic about it.  Again it says so much more about the people who find a photo like that disturbing and their own twisted views on sexuality than it does about Miley.  The photo is sensual.  Her back is beautiful.  She is lovely and growing into a woman.  Why is it Americans find it so disturbing that a young woman of 15 could possibly have a sensuous body?  Why does sensuality automatically equal sex?  And why is it wrong for someone to view this photo and want sex with this woman just because of her age?  Our sexuality doesn’t magically turn on at age 16 or 18 when we can suddenly legally “consent” to certain activities.  We are born sexual beings.  The fact that our culture finds sexuality abhorrent is a problem with our culture, not the peoples’ bodies in the culture.

This country is so puritanical, I can hardly stand it.  Grow up people.  Humans are sexual beings.  How do you think we procreate?  I believe so much of the sexual vioence in this country comes from repressed rage at unexpressed and disallowed sexuality.  There is also the assumption that anything without clothes is automatically ready to fuck.  Put a male and female together, even a parent and child, and if they are touching or in any way intimate, they are automatically ready to fuck.  Take a sensual photo of a young woman’s body and she is being exploited to fuck.  It’s crazy.

I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind.  America is such a mess, any voice of reason is lost in the din.  I can say this though, Miley Cyrus’s photos were beautiful, intimate, sensual, and in no way incestuous or pornographic.  Anyone who thinks otherwise is the one with the problem.  Those people should head into therapy and try to figure out what that problem is.

Physical Therapy

The Elbow, Lying on the Couch: When I was young, I fell and was broken. It was a hard fall. Out of a tree. The ligaments surrounding my cartilage were torn. I hurt for months. I was swollen. I couldn’t breathe properly.

Physical Therapist: How do you feel about that?

Elbow: It hurts, you know? I mean, I still feel the ache of that painful day.

Physical Therapist: What do you think you can do to move past this? What is done is done.

Elbow: I just don’t know. Maybe I’m going to have to work on moving past that time, stretch a little.

Physical Therapist: I can prescribe something if you like.

Elbow: I’d like to try and work through this without medication, but if the pain becomes too intense, I may have to take you up on that offer.

Physical Therapist: I’m always here.

Elbow: I know. These sessions help me to maintain my sanity.

American Idol had some kids talking about the statistics on poverty. The thing is, they’re preaching to the choir. Those of us watching this can’t do anything global about the problem and those who can aren’t going to watch this and do anything about it.

On another note, I’ve decided I’m going to start my own corporation to operate in competition with Monsanto. I’m going to hire a bunch of scientists and get them to patent dogs and cats. Then when people try to breed them, I’m going to sue their asses off. Of course this will be after I’ve harassed them and terrified them, taking photos of them out walking the puppies and cuddling the kittens. How dare these people interfere with my right to own life? I’ll also go after anyone who buys the puppies or kittens unaltered. If they think they are going to let those animals breed without my getting paid for it, they have another thing coming.

I don’t think I know how to be loved, at least in the sense of a significant other relationship kind of love. I have gone through every relationship I’ve had as an adult and concluded that the only man who ever truly loved me was my husband, and it was if that relationship was doomed before it began, at least from the point where we got married. The poor man was completely emasculated by his mother, and the day we moved into his parents’ house was the day we kissed that relationship goodbye, even though it limped on for another four years.

Anyway, I thought about this and I have no idea what it feels like. I only know what not being loved feels like. I know what my partner loving someone else feels like. I know what my partner having no clue about love for anyone feels like. But I can barely remember what it feels like for someone to love me. I wonder if a person reaches a point where she wouldn’t recognize it if it fell in her lap. I am so used to unrequited love. I am so used to beginnings that never go anywhere. I have zero clue how to go beyond that.

How do you learn if you never get the opportunity to try?  How do you keep believing you are lovable if no one ever loves you?  The last time it happened for me was fourteen years ago.  That is such a long time.  Actually sitting here and contemplating this I just can’t believe the length of it.  That is a significant chunk of time.  God, all this advice.  Don’t base your happiness on a man.  Live your own life.  Build yourself.  It’s great to do that, but how do you learn the lessons a deep relationship teaches if you never get into that place where someone else really loves you?

I wonder if most people are truly unloved.  I know there are a lot of people married out there, or in long term relationships.  Does that mean they have been loved or are loved?  How is it they get there?  I’m absolutely, utterly and completely baffled by this.

It is a quarter to midnight.  I started to go to sleep but woke up.  That is the worst time to wake up, when you’re still in the beginning stages of sleep.  I find it nearly impossible to go back to sleep in any reasonable fashion if I’m awakened within the early stages of sleep.  I’m tired, but can’t sleep.  I’m too tired really to read.  There is nothing I want to watch on television.  I hate television really.  Maybe I’ll find some Youtube or something to watch.  This sucks.  I have to get up early too.  Ah well.  I’m used to insomnia, just not at the beginning of the night.  I hope this means when I do finally fall asleep that I won’t wake up at 3, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Letter Again to Love Guru

Well, I received a letter last week from a well-meaning young fellow.  I have to say I am impressed with his fortitude in contacting me.  He is obviously an intelligent person who knows when to ask for help.  Here is his request:

HI love guru i dont know ur reputation but having studied ur letters it made me relaxed and confident enuf to share my problem with u. The problem is that due to bipolar sickness and other problems i feel that i may am lagging behind than my other fellows in mental growth at this time i am doing my masters in digital communications but believe me in social activites and day to day living i spend my most of life in room and have gained very less experiences well thats another problem. My love problem is that i dont feel to marry or engage coz i dont feel mature enuf but ma parents insisted me and after rejecting a few proposals i accpeted one. But that was due to pressure. Now its 4 months since i engaged to a girl. That girl is sincere to me as i am the only man in her life but u know i dont like her much. i dont think about her that much. i respect her she is quite descent and mature girl but i wanted a lil funky girl so that she brighten ma life. ne way now tell me wat to do she is not a type of ma beauty choice. i m very worried these days. tell me wat should i do please.  Ali

To begin, Ali, I would suggest a bit of grammar school.  This would help you immensely in your ability to communicate.  Perhaps improvements in your communications will improve your social skills.  However, because you are a man, a bit of leeway will be accorded to you.  We women know how easy it is for men to revert to their caveman ways, and grammar is not something that appeals to cavemen.  Cavemen prefer banging things with lumps of rock and grunting. This is certainly not conducive to correct articulation.  I understand this.  However, practice your grammar.  Considering your mental problems, you need all the help you can get.

Regarding your love question…Ali, shame on you!  You have a perfectly lovely woman who is willing to put up with you, keep you in your private quarters, and feed you.  What more is it that you want?  She isn’t “beautiful” enough?  If you do not think she is pretty enough, I would suggest the problem is not with her, but with your eyes.  The solution is simple.  Go and find a stick and poke your eyes with it.  Once you are blind, you will not notice what your woman looks like.  An alternative is some wood glue.  Simply rub some glue along your lids.  This will cause them to stick shut, thereby increasing the strength of your other senses.  You will notice the lovely perfume your woman wears, the sounds of the music she plays, the tastes of the food she has made for you, and the feel of the softness of her skin.  Who needs sight when these other senses are so visceral?  Your woman loves you and wishes to keep you near to her.  Simply return to your quarters and all will be forgiven.  Kiss her feet, pour perfume all over your body, and shave.  Then beg for her forgiveness.  She will be so happy to see you, she may even feed you more than once a day.

Unfortunately, if your girl drove you out to the side of the road somewhere, she is over you and nothing you can do will change her mind.  I realize you are suffering from mental delusions in the form of bipolar disorder, but you need to get yourself under control!  How?  It’s simple.  You need to have a beer and watch some football.  You said you do not think of her much as it is.  I am sure the walk alone started you on the way to forgetting about her, but your mental disorder likely interfered.  I assure you the beer and game will complete the exodus of this person from your mind.  You will wonder why you needed to write to me in the first place.

Good luck, Ali.  True love really can be yours if you follow my simple advice.

More Love Guru Love Letters

Here are some more letters to help ladies find their way to true love. Based on the sheer number of letters I’ve received, I am absolutely certain that many of you have similar questions and will find comfort in these answers I have provided.

Dear Love Guru,
My boyfriend says he doesn’t like the music I chose for him. He says I have zero taste and wouldn’t know a good song if it hit me in the head. I told him this hurts my feelings. He said so what? What should I do? Sincerely, Sally

Dear Sally,
I hate to tell you, darling, but your man is a mean clod and deserves to be put out on his head. Telling you that you have zero taste in music is not only not true, it’s just plain cruel. What does he know, anyway? He’s a man. Except in rare instances, men wouldn’t know musical taste if landed in their lap. Personally, I would take him out to the suburbs or the country and leave him there to figure his own way back to town, but if you love him like it seems you do, you are just going to have to change him. How? Well that’s simple. He’s going to have to spend some serious time in private quarters, the music is going to have to go a bit louder, the perfume is going to have to be sprayed a bit longer, and I hate to say this, but I think it is time to withhold some meals from this man. He really needs to learn that your love is what his life is all about and if he’s going to be critical of your choice in music, he should be thankful for every other wonderful aspect of your beautiful character. I would suggest starting out by feeding him only once a day in the late afternoon. He’ll be so grateful for the food, he won’t even notice the music. While he’s eating, turn the song up just a hair, while he’s still in the throes of tummy ecstacy. After about a week, go ahead and add another snack in the morning and when you do, bring the volume up on the music again right after he is through eating. Over the next several weeks, you can add in more meals, and also increase the size of the meals. Each time you do this, turn the musical volume up just a piece. He will begin to associate food with the song choice you made. If at any time he has something critical to say to you about your song choice, reduce the amount of food he receives for the next few days but do not lower the volume on your song. He’ll figure it out and you’ll be on your way to true love’s bliss in no time at all.

Dear Love Guru,
I hate to ask you this because you were probably intentional in leaving it out of your instructions, but what am I supposed to do with my fingernails? I have the hardest time keeping them tidy and I’m just afraid they detract from my entire sexy look. Do you have any advice? Thank you in advance, Nel
ly

Oh Nelly, Nelly,
What a fantastic question and you are so right that I should have addressed this earlier! What was I thinking? I just wasn’t, that’s all there is to it. I’m so sorry for leaving you out in the cold like this. Here’s the thing, dear. You are going to have to start using falsies. Men love a woman with long nails. They just do. Short nails remind them of their own unkempt manly hands and you know what happens when a man sees something that reminds him of himself…he begins to see you as a man. And we wouldn’t want that, now would we? So find a nice nail salon and have them apply the tips for you. If you can’t afford a salon, go ahead and apply them yourself, but be sure you use a strong adhesive so they don’t fall off. I wouldn’t use the stuff that comes with the nail kit, but go buy some serious glue from the hardware store. You can simply use a bit of sandpaper on them to even out the lumps the glue leaves. After you apply your nail tips, be sure to paint them fire engine red. Fire engine red fires up a man’s imagination like nothing else. He’ll be so hot after seeing those nails, you might not even need his private quarters for a week! Toenails actually need attention too, but they do not need to be very long. Just be sure to have them cleaned up with a lovely pedicure. Be sure to get rid of any unsightly skin or fungus. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: SOS pads. SOS pads are amazing for scrubbing nastiness off your toes and heels. If you get a little burned, put on some lotion. Your feet will be utterly amazing. Throw on some high heeled sandals and he’ll be so gaga for your gorgeous feet, he won’t be able to sleep with loving you.

Dear Love Guru,
My mother, church, God, and the Bible taught me that sex outside of marriage is a sin. Shame on you for advocating sinful bedding like this! Shame on you also for telling women to show skin! Don’t you know that God wants our bodies covered? He does not like us to show others our private parts! Even in the sanctity of the marriage bed, he would be shocked if I allowed my Husband to see my breasts during relations. Shame, shame, shame! I may be coming up on 48 years old, but God will find me a Husband when he sees fit, on His own time. And if I never find a Husband, the Lord Jesus will be happy to comply. Signed, Ruth

Dear Ruth,
I do not know how in the world you came to the conclusion that God would not want you to use your body for sex since He gave you a hoo hoo and breasts, and I’ll bet your lovely form is way sexier than even you can imagine. Plus, there is no reason you can’t follow my other advice for getting love, even without having sex early and often, you just need to modify things a little. I think maybe Jesus is a bit busy healing babies and going to church and all that to be working on being your husband, so it would be best if you found yourself a nice human man to love. It may take a bit more time for you than it will for the average girl, but you’ve got spunk and I know you’ll find true love with a man in no time just like Jesus intended.

Well how do I do that, Love Guru? I can just hear you asking me that right now, so I’m going to tell you. First of all, nothing says that a good Christian lady can’t have her hair attractively styled. In fact I have seen more Christian ladies with the hair style I advocate than I see at the mall. And having a built in support system could be quite useful for you all. You could get together and color one another’s hair! It could be so fun. After Church you could have pie and do hair. God also doesn’t mind if you wear makeup. He made men so that they aren’t bright enough to know you are a girl without makeup, so He must have intended you to use some. Makeup parties can be fun too, kind of like those candle party things you Christian girls go to, only putting makeup on instead of lighting up a bunch of wax. And if you’re feeling especially creative, you could combine one of your candle parties with a makeup and hair removal party, and use the candle wax on your bikini line, armpits, and legs. It could be so much fun! Sitting here I’m thinking perhaps I should go into the Christian lady party planning business. I think I would be good at it.

You also mentioned some concern at having to show your skin. Again, I have to wonder why the good Lord would make skin if He meant for us to cover it all the time, but I also recognize that He did give us the ability to create some fantastic clothing choices, so I suppose He intended us to be creative in this department. It is too bad that he didn’t make men with a bit more imagination so us girls wouldn’t have to make things like nipples and labia so obvious, but it is what it is. I am here to tell you that you can still follow my steps while allowing for a man’s inability to figure out a breast is a breast and not just a lump. Basically you just have to go with ill-fitting clothing all over your whole body. Wear a very tight blouse. It can have a high neck and long sleeves. Just make sure that the silhouette of your breasts is clearly visible. Since your man will not be able to see your areola, you will need to wear your shirts tight enough he can see the shape of them through the shirt. Since it sounds like short skirts would offend your religious sensibilities, simply wear your pants tight enough to see your labia. Dressing to find a man without showing skin really is not as difficult as it seems, now is it?

As you can see, there are many of my steps to love that you can follow even if you are unwilling to have sex early and often. And don’t underestimate private quarters to assist you in developing a good Christian relationship. Suppose you meet a man you really like, but he doesn’t share your devotion? You can use your private quarters to help him along. This is especially effective if you have a very cold basement or root cellar for your man’s private quarters space. Basically, make sure your man’s private quarters are good and cold. Put him in there and leave him for several days. Every few days sit with him and read to him from your Bible. After reading to him about the comfort of the Lord, give him a little something to help him warm up just a bit. Over time, he will begin to associate the comfort of the Lord with the warmth you have provided. You also have the added bonus of his associating this comfort with your love. In no time at all, he’ll love you and the Lord more than anything in the world. Religious hymns can also make an effective musical choice in a case like yours. He’ll associate the lovely hymn with his love for the both of you. What could be better than that?

Dear Love Guru,
I bought some sexy clothes like you suggested. What should I do with my old ones? I really don’t think it would be right to donate them since another woman might end up buying them and keep herself from finding love. I simply could not live with myself knowing I contributed to another woman’s unhappiness. Thanks, Dotty

Dearest Dotty,
You are truly a generous spirit and your kindness will be rewarded with true love. What to do with those clothes? That’s easy, use them to fill in the cracks of your man’s private quarters so he stays warm. There’s nothing like the softness of a nice cotton polo shirt to snuggle up against. And if he’s being naughty, you can use them to poke in his mouth until he’s quiet. Alternatively, you can give them to my previous letter writer or any other Christian ladies who need to encourage their men to be a bit more devotional.

For the original Love Guru post, go here.  For the first batch of Love Guru Love Letters, go here.

Love Guru Love Letters

I received many questions after posting my recipe for love. Clearly finding love can be a touchy problem, and one about which many would like to find some answers. I regret that because of the incredible number of inquiries I received, I simply cannot answer most of them personally. However I have compiled some of the more common issues here, and will post more tomorrow. Hopefully these will help those who have not quite yet navigated love’s rough waters.

Dear Love Guru,
I read your instructions on how to get a man and I’m thinking it’s gonna work. However I am confused about one thing and that’s hair. I have a perm. I have been trying to grow it out so the ends are kinda curly and the middle is straight. Do you think I should just cut it all off and start short? Thanks, Candy.

Dear Candy,
Great question. Let me just get straight to it. If No and Hell No went for a boat ride and No fell out, who would be left? Hell No. I cannot stress enough the importance of hair length when it comes to men. They simply do not understand short hair on a woman, that’s all there is to it. I’m sorry men can be so obtuse, but that’s just how it is. If a man sees you with short hair, he’s going to think you are another man, and we don’t want that, now do we? Yours is a simple solution and it’s called straightening. Go to the salon and have your hair straightened. Better yet, go to the store and buy your own kit and do it yourself. If you are a black lady, simply follow the instructions on the kit. If you are a white lady, go for a few minutes less, that way your hair won’t fall out. You’ll be on your way to love in no time! Fabulous name, by the way. With a name like Candy, you’ll have men wanting to eat right out of your hand!

Dear Love Guru,
I have a question that’s of a rather personal nature. Actually, it has to do with pubic hair. You did not mention pubic hair in your instructions, and I’m quite curious whether or not it should be trimmed. Some of my girlfriends say it should be shaved all the way off. Others say it should be left au naturel. Personally, I prefer a simple trim. What’s a girl to do? Sincerely, Harley

Dear Harley,
Another simply magnificent question! The answer to that question is easy, and you’re going to like it because you’re already there, Hon. Trim it. I know there are some men who like things completely naked down there, but there is just something wrong with that. Think about it. Little girls have no hair down there. Shaving all the hair off makes your privates look like those of a little girl. Do you really think it is a good idea for your man to be thinking of some little girl when he’s with you? I don’t think so! Not only that, unless you plan to get waxed (oh my God, ouch!), then you’re going to have to keep up working on getting that hair gone all the time. If you miss a day, can you imagine the itchiness? The thought brings tears to my eyes. And if you cut yourself…I just won’t even go there. So shave your bikini line and trim the rest. As for going au naturel, I do realize there are those hirsute ladies who are into that and we all hope they can find a man who is as well, but I say good luck, Sister. It just is not going to happen. Remember how I told you that men are not very bright when it comes to the ladies? Do you honestly think he’s going to know what is under all that hair if you leave it on there? Hair is meant to be long on the head and that is it. Go for the nice trim. And don’t forget to shave your armpits as well. You’ll be glad you did.

Dear Love Guru,
I have a real problem. I took your advice and found the man I thought was of my dreams. I wore the clothes you suggested, attractively styled my hair, wore perfect makeup, and let my panties hang out. It worked! I snagged my highschool sweetheart, John Fangboner, in just under a month. I was able to create a great private quarters for him in my basement. I built it all by myself and play Michael McDonald for him 24 hours a day. He’s there now in fact. Only here’s my problem. While I was at my job as a toenail fungus specialist at Lulu’s Nails in Brooklyn, I met the most wonderful man! He’s come in several times for Lulu’s special fungus treatment and I’m pretty sure he likes me. I mean, he does wear a wedding band, but I think it’s so women don’t hit on him all the time because he is really handsome. And his fungus isn’t that bad. I’m wondering how I should handle this situation considering John is in my basement as I write this! Please help. Confused in Love, Mary Lou Pantzaroff

My Dearest Confused,
Get up this second, go down to Walgreen’s, buy yourself some reading glasses, and put them on right now! You will be seeing clearly in about three minutes, my dear. This is quite a common problem, I’m afraid. You would not believe the sheer volume of letters I’ve gotten on just this issue. I particularly chose yours because it includes a second, more subtle issue I would also like to address. First of all, girls simply change their minds. That is all there is to it. It happens. In the same way that men are known to run around, bang things, and throw balls, us girls are known for being fickle creatures. Don’t sweat it. Here’s what you need to do. Take Johnny out for a drive and leave him on a country road. Don’t go too far from town. If you live in the city, and it sounds like you do, the suburbs will work just as well. Kiss him on his cheek, give him enough money for bus fare home, and leave. Why? Because the walk and ride back to his place will clear his head. He will be slightly confused after the warmth of his private quarters, the loving music, and your sexual prowess. Walking will remind him of sports and beer. He’ll start to focus on those things and head back to his place. By the time he arrives, he will have forgotten all about you. Normally this would be catastrophic, which is why we keep our men in their private quarters, but since you want out, this is the perfect solution.

Now you mentioned another issue I would also like to discuss, and that is the new man you are interested in. Can I just say now, Congratulations! Sounds to me like he’s as interested in you as you are in him. That ring? That’s his way of practicing his marriage to you! He’s getting ready and he does not want other girls to think he’s available. So go for it! You’ve already nabbed one man, you are obviously quite successful in the man-nabbing department. This one should not be terribly difficult to snag as well, especially since it seems he’s already interested. He wouldn’t be coming into your salon all the time if he wasn’t. And just think, he’s sharing an intimate bodily problem he’s dealing with, so he already trusts you. Girlfriend, you are so on your way to love, I’m getting all shivery and excited just thinking about it. Good luck and let me know how the wedding goes!

Everyone, this girl’s predicament is a common one. They see a man wearing a wedding band and think he’s taken. Remember that little phrase that says assuming makes an ass out of you and me? Well assuming a man is married simply because he’s wearing a wedding band is a load of horse pucky and definitely gets a lot of donkeys wandering around. Men know wedding bands keep women away, so when they decide you are the girl for them, they might just start wearing one so they can be sure to snag you! Unless your guy shows you his wedding certificate and the wife, he is likely fair game. Just be sure to wear your hair attractively styled, beautiful makeup, and ill-fitting clothes with a nice peek of your panties. He’ll be yours in no time. And don’t forget those private quarters! They are a key ingredient in the recipe of love.

For the original Love Guru post, go here.  For more Love Guru Love Letters, go here.

Love Guru

There are clear steps to getting the man of your dreams. I am here today to provide you some insight into those steps. Finding true love is not difficult. With a little perseverance, you too can achieve true love and happiness. To get started, I suggest pulling together some supplies. These supplies include a computer with internet access, duct tape, a cage, a hammer, some music and candles, clothing, makeup, scissors, and shoes. If you have a basement, this can be helpful too. It works best if the basement is in your own house, but your neighbor’s basement works well too if they are amenable.

First things first, men like women who look good and sexy. This means if you are normally the type to wear something dowdy like waist high jeans and a polo shirt tucked in, along with some sports socks and sneakers, you are going to seriously have to rethink your wardrobe choices. Unfortunately, men are not able to see past clothes that look like another guy is wearing them, so unless you would like to catch a gay man, I suggest taking this strong piece of advice: tight and ill-fitting.

What does this mean exactly? It means that you want to go with clothes a size, or perhaps two, too small. I know, I know, I’ve read those articles in womens’ mags claiming we should wear clothes that fit and if we are plus-sized girls, it’s even more important. Whatever. I’m here to tell you from a man’s perspective, that is gobbledy-gook. The thing you have to remember is that boys are not very imaginative creatures. They can’t imagine what they can’t see. Why is it, do you think, that they need a nudey magazine to do business with themselves? Huh? It’s because they cannot for the life of them figure out that a breast under a shirt is a breast. They just think it’s a lump. So you have to provide them with a reminder. It’s pretty simple really. Wear shirts that are a bit too tight, preferably low cut if you have the chest to accommodate, making certain if there are buttons that they don’t quite line up to close. This way men can see through to your bra if you have one and to your skin if you don’t.

A side note on undergarments here. If you can go without, do. Especially bras. Men like nipples, and like I said before, men can’t imagine what they can’t see. A little areola goes a long way to tittilating a man’s heart. Same goes for underwear. The best look if you must indulge in panties is to wear the thong style with the back showing out the top of your pants or skirt. Now, if you do as I say and choose pants or a skirt a size or so too small, it will be easy for the panties to show out the top.

Back to clothes. Since we just mentioned pants, let me just say that the tighter, the better. You may have heard the term camel toe. This is when pants are tight enough to show the outline of your labia. You may have heard that camel toe is unattractive. Pshaw! I’m here again to tell you that is simply not true. Men want to be able to see what is underneath! Since our puritanical laws and bad weather do not allow us to go naked all the time, it is necessary to wear pants sometimes. Help those unimaginitive men along and wear your pants tight enough that the man can see both your underwear and the outlines of your labia. You will be the better for it, I assure you.

A better bet, if you can get away with it, is a short skirt. I’m sure you have all heard that after a certain age or weight, women shouldn’t wear short skirts, but things have changed. Men have changed. Ever hear that older women are more experienced or bbw? These terms imply that no matter what your age or size, you can and should flaunt your stuff. Skirts small enough to provide the view of a bit of hiney are all that. Wear them short, show off your panties, and you’ll be on your way to love in no time, honey.

Let’s recap. Tight and ill-fitting clothes are best. No undergarments if possible, but if you must, be sure they show. Now, on to hair.

You may not know this, but men do like hair that is attractively styled. To them, hair that is natural and hanging is just, well, hair. They want a cut and they want to be able to notice a cut. At the same time, they want length. How to achieve these seemingly disparate goals? It’s simple, really. Cut your hair on top to a shorter length. Blow it dry using lots of styling aids so that it fluffs up around your face, framing the lovely you. Leave the sides and back longer. This way, men can see the length of your hair, and can also see that you took the time to style it as well. The color you choose doesn’t matter, so if there is a color other than the one you were born with that appeals to you, go for it. Color can also be a way to get a man excited. Men know that women who show their hair has been colored because of a bit of root growth are the best in bed. It’s just obvious that being adventurous with hair color is akin to being adventurous in bed. Hair stylists will try and convince you to come in and get those roots done sooner rather than later. Again, pshaw! That’s just them trying to make some money. Better yet, save money on the stylist and do your own coloring at home. You can save money further by letting those roots grow just a wee bit longer to show your man your adventurous side. Saving money and getting some lovin’, what could be better than that?

Makeup. Men like makeup. They like lots of it. Of course, it must be expertly applied, but it should be evident. Why? Kind of like wearing clothes men wear, a naked face to a man is just like, well, another man. Like I said before, if you don’t want a gay man, wear a lot of makeup to accentuate your features. Begin with a flat pallette. This means a solid foundation to cover up any, ahem, imperfections so to speak. Take the foundation and apply it all over your face, behind your ears, and down your neck. Blend it into the skin of your chest. Powder all. Then take a colored eye shadow and apply it from your eyelashes to your eyebrow. Men need to be able to SEE your eyes; colored eye shadow is the way to help them. Avoid neutrals. Men will just think you have dark circles around your eyes. Apply a thick coat of mascara. Once it dries, apply again. Oh, and don’t forget the eyeliner. Ever see Amy Winehouse’s eyes? She goes for a dramatic look and see what she has acheived! Amy is an example for us all. After making your eyes stand out, apply blusher to your cheeks. You want to look fresh and excited, kind of like you just had sex, so make those cheeks rosy. Same with the lips. Apply lipliner first, around the edges of your lips to make them appear larger, then fill in. It works best if the lipstick shade is different from the liner shade. This way men can see where your lips begin. Now your makeup pallette is complete! Squirt a bit of perfume behind your ears, on your neck, on your arms, in your armpits, on your tummy and down there, preferably a strong rose scent. Men like a woman who smells fresh and perfume shows you took the time to care.

You are now dressed for love success! Men will come crawling to your feet, begging you to take them home if you dress right, wear enough makeup, and style your hair. It’s easy, really. Men simply cannot resist a woman who takes care of herself. Choosing clothes that show your body, styling your hair so it is long and shows you styled it, wearing makeup to accentuate your features, all these things go a long way to achieving true love’s bliss.

Well, you say, after I’ve gone to these lengths, how do I keep a man once he’s interested? That one’s easy and I think you know the answer: sex. Men love sex. If you want to keep that special guy, have sex with him. The sooner the better. Seriously. It is not true that men are not interested in women who put out early. Men want to know you care about their needs too and the way to do that is to get busy between the sheets.

There are those who will tell you that it really doesn’t matter whether you have sex at your place or his, or even in the car. However, having sex at your house provides a distinct advantage to sex at his place or elsewhere. First of all, you can control the lighting concept, the music, and generally direct the entire mood. Secondly, after your man has sex he is likely to fall asleep. It is best if he falls asleep at your place so he can get used to being with you, sharing your rhythms and sleep patterns. Finally, should your man prove to be one of the more, how shall we say it, difficult types, having him at your house can make it easier to move him into his own private quarters in the basement of your house or the neighbor’s until he is more sure of your love.

A little sidenote tip here. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, some men need a bit more coaxing than others. They have fears of commitment or are afraid of the depth of emotion they feel for you. It is your job to show them that you understand and to help them come to terms with their inner selves. This can be done in a variety of ways, including drugs, alcohol, food, and television. But the best method I’ve encountered is what I call the “private quarters” method. The private quarters method basically creates a space for your man to be alone when he is not with you. It is best to place these quarters in a basement, simply because your man likes to return to his caveman roots, and the dark and depth of a basement reminds him of his basest instincts and his ancestry in caves. Worry not if you don’t have a basement. I know there are many girls who like trailers, flats, and ranch homes where a basement can be nearly impossible to come by. Sometimes girls with trailers have a root cellar. If this is the case, by all means employ it. However an extra room with the windows covered will suffice. This is one place where duct tape can come in quite handy. Simply cover the entire window surface with duct tape to keep out all light. Make sure the door locks in case the special place you make for your man’s private quarters isn’t sufficient to provide him enough privacy. Girl neighbors can share basements, but it is important not to keep two or more men together at once because this can confuse them. They may not know which of you they belong to if a bunch of girls are coming down all the time, and you don’t want your man to fall for someone else. Only use the basement of a neighbor you trust implicitly not to steal your man’s heart from you. This can be quite distressing.

It is very important to create private quarters for your man. If you aren’t the handy type, I suggest doing some web searches on using simple tools because good solid private quarters is one of the best methods to keep a man. Simply put, this is just a small place for you to put your man and lock him in for a bit. Now, now, don’t get all excited. This is not a bad thing. In fact your man will thank you for it after he’s spent some time with himself. Some need to stay longer than others, but all of them will be your slave for life if you keep them in private quarters for any length of time. It is best if you know how to weld and can build your man’s private quarters out of metal, but welding really is messy business so good solid two by fours work as well. Be sure to use enough nails and screws so the private quarters don’t fall apart. It helps if you can bolt the private quarters to the floor using a chain or some other bolting method. Make sure the space is not large enough for your man to stand because standing makes him restless. Give him just enough room to sit with his legs comfortably bent in front of him and enough room above his head so he doesn’t bonk himself while sitting there. Men can be quite clumsy so if the top of the space isn’t high enough, he will hurt his head, and this is not good. Good private quarters are an invaluable tool in the dating woman’s toolkit. Use private quarters wisely and you cannot go wrong. Later, once you are safely ensconsed in your man’s heart, you may only need to handcuff him in one place occasionally to remind him of his private quarters. But many men see their private quarters as a safe haven away from the pressures of everyday living and quite enjoy taking time there at the end of a stressful day.

The final piece to the puzzle in keeping a man is music. Wise music choices are invaluable in ensuring your man doesn’t stray. I’m here to tell you a secret method I’ve developed for keeping a man using private quarters and music. First of all, make the right decision when it comes to which song to play. None of that hard rock music stuff that gets men all flustery and thinking they need to run around and throw balls or something. Bad idea if you’re aiming for a romantic tone. Better to go for the soft rock favorites like Michael McDonald’s Yah Mo Be There. This song is just about as perfect as you can get for the secret method I’m about to show you. Another fantastic choice is When I Fall in Love by Celine Dion and Clive Davis. You will be playing one song only, so a good music choice is essential. After making your song selection, you either need to get a player that will allow the song to play on repeat indefinitely, or you need to use your computer. Since the song will be playing in the basement, root cellar, or room where your man’s private quarters are located, the computer may prove to be impractical unless you can run speakers or use a laptop. The sound has to be quite loud, so do not use the laptop itself as a sound system, but attach speakers to it. Basically, the secret method is to play the song in your man’s private quarters over and over and over as loudly as possible without disturbing the neighbors. He will then come to associate the sound with his love for you. Later, when you wish to put him in a loving mood, turn on that song, and Presto! He’ll be so hot for you, you won’t believe it. The reason this works so well is that the song operates almost like hypnotism. Your man enters such a blissful state under the power of the music, it is almost as if he’s under a love spell. It helps if you can burn some scented candles in his private space as well, lavender or rose scents work best; men simply cannot resist either of these. Again, when your man comes up for some lovin’ you can burn a candle using your special smell while playing your special song, creating a mood that simply cannot be beat. Music and candles go a long way to making your man a happy, loving creature.

Let’s have a final recap here. Ill-fitting clothes are best. Wearing none is preferable, but if you must wear undergarments, make sure they show. Wear hair that is obviously styled, yet still long, by cutting the top shorter and leaving the sides and backs long. Use hair color to spark a man’s adventurous spirit. Wear enough makeup men can see your lovely features. Have sex early and often. Create a private quarters space to keep your man until he is yours forever. Finally, use a good solid love song played loudly and constantly. Music, as well as scented candles, imprint you on your man’s brain. Mark my words, girls. True love can be yours. Toss out those thick books on relationships and save your money for clothes, makeup, and private quarters supplies. Follow these simple rules for love, and you will be on your way to bliss until death do you part.

For Love Guru Love Letters, go here.  For more Love Guru Love Letters, go here.

All the Wittle Animals and Adam

My friend wrote this.  I thought it was such a funny story, I had to post it.

Once upon a time, God got an itch to create himself some little planet.  Yeah.  And on the planet he put all the wittle animals, some shrubbery, and Adam.  Oh, and then he turned on the light.  And then he rested.  Yeah.  And Adam was lonely so he ripped out a rib and created a woman.  Yeah.  And then God made sure that Adam and Eve were stupid and wouldn’t question anything.  Yeah.  So then, there was a snake, a talking snake, that persuaded Eve to eat an apple.  Yeah.  And then, well, then everything went to hell (woman’s fault, you know).  And then, God wrote the bible and told everyone that this was the Bible and that it was the word of God and that you had to obey it all.  Yeah, even the parts where you stone your own children to death if they profess non belief.  — CW, 2008

My choosing to publish this story represents a perfect microcosm of a little problem I have been dealing with lately.  As cliche’ as it sounds, on some level my blog is my own personal therapy session.  I come here and spout and think and muse and make shit up no one cares about.  Part of the deal for me is that I have to be brutally honest.  But also, no censoring.  And lately, I have wanted to censor.  I have been worrying way too much about who might read this and their reaction.  As a result, I have not been the happiest little camper lately.  Part of it, I’m sure, is that I’ve not been sleeping well.  Not sleeping makes me turn into a rather cranky little monster, if you know what I mean.  Lack of sleep will do that to a person.

But another part of my angst has been wanting to write stuff and then not doing it because of my perceived expectation of a reaction or concern over what others will think of me.  I even went so far as to delete the post I wrote on toxic work places because I was worried someone at the old workplace would read it.  I also worried about what I wrote yesterday about wanting a boyfriend, all concerned the man I’m going on a date with might read it, realize I’m bananas, and run screaming for the hills.  I worried a parent in Milla’s class might discover what a foul-mouthed hooligan I can be.  Then there were a few days where all I wanted to write was a bunch of negativity because I was mired in a sleep-deprived, hormonally-induced, mini depressional psychosis and I didn’t want people to think I’m that much of a mental health disaster.  For over a week now I have not written much at all because of concern over someone reading what I had to say.

Then last night I was reading and taking a nice bath to relax before bed in the hope I would fall asleep when I realized what I have been doing.  I realized I was censoring myself and I had to ask, what in the world is going on here?  I am not writing for the audience, I am writing for me, regardless how stupid, opinionated, depressed, or ridiculous I may be.  I want to have an audience, that’s why I put it out there.  But I can’t write with the audience in mind.  So I had this little epiphany and resolved to go back to being my usual blabber-mouthed, opinionated, cussing sometimes self, regardless if I was having a good day and regardless what anyone else might think or say.

Then this morning I received the story my friend wrote and wanted to post it because I think it is hilarious.  I cut and pasted it and put it into my wordpress window, then when it came time to tag it and categorize it, I started to worry about offending someone or the neo-nazi religious types that might read it and send me hate mail and I got a little flutter and almost didn’t put anything in the tags and only a couple of categories to ensure no one would read it.  Then the lightbulb went on and I realized I was doing it again, censoring, worrying about the reaction, and I knew then that I had to post it and add all the tags and categories I would have if I knew no one was reading it.  I had to put it out there, regardless of the reaction.  Because ironically enough, I honestly don’t care whether someone likes it or not.   I’m just too tired right now to deal with the possible reaction.  And that is the crux of it, I suppose.  I have been feeling so lousy from lack of sleep that I do not have my usual strength and resolve to put up with someone else not liking what I have to say.  I’ve regressed back to the person in my teens and early twenties who had zero confidence in her writing or her self.  I suppose it is normal to make these regressions when I’m overly tired, but it doesn’t mean I have to stay there.

So I’ve put on the story and I put back the toxic workplace post and I’m leaving the relationship post and if there is anyone reading it who doesn’t like it, well, I guess that’s too bad.  Go read something else.  I’m not trying to change your mind.  I’m not trying to make other people hate my ex boss.  I’m not trying to troll the blogs hoping some Prince Charming will read my relationship posts and come sweep me off my feet.  I’m writing because I have to and it keeps me sane.  It is part of my spirituality.  I know that’s a useless psychobabble reason, but it’s true, and that’s all there is to it.

Why do men marry?

What makes a man marry?  I saw this headline today on Yahoo.  I’m sure they have they trot out the same boring answers, yada yada yada.  Well, I’m here to tell them that the answer is easy.  It’s a little date-rape drug women use on men called Beer.  I was made aware of this oft-abused substance via a public service email a few days ago (Thank you, Carin, for bringing this to my attention!).  It really brought to light for me the extensive insidiousness of this substance and its entrenched toehold in American society.  People complain about the tobacco companies, but what we really should worry about is the proliferation of beer.  How many unwanted hookups have occurred because of this toxic substance?  How many, dare I say it, marriages?  It is truly frightening indeed.

Vanishing Meter

I have a bastard meter in my brain. Well, it is not necessarily fair to call it a “bastard” meter. Perhaps it should be called a Pitiful Loser meter. Or a Guaranteed to Disappear meter. Whatever it is called, it is in my brain and it really works. It is this little meter that turns red based on how attracted I am to a man. The redder the meter, the more attracted I am. If it isn’t very red, I’m not very attracted. If the meter is red, it is a guarantee that the man is going to disappear or be emotionally unavailable.

Seriously. This thing works. The more attracted I am, the redder the meter, the more likely the man is to disappear. And get this. I can start out not much attracted to the man and the meter will have very little red to it. Then I can spend more time with the guy and get more attracted based on his personality. The meter gets redder. The man disappears. It’s amazing.

This is a remarkable capacity on my part. Over the last couple of years, I have become gradually aware of the Vanishing Meter. After a man would disappear or stand me up or after a relationship would end, I would do the usual self-analysis to figure out if there was something I could do differently. I ascertained that one common denominator was that the men either disappeared or were emotionally unavailable. I began also to detect this redness in my brain at the time of attraction. Over time, I put the two together and presto! There you have it! The Vanishing meter.

I started to test its accuracy. I set up an online dating profile. I went out and looked around. I sent hellos to men and rated them on how attracted I was to them. If I was very attracted, the meter would be quite red and they would not respond to my inquiry. If I was not that attracted, they would be all over me like ants on sugar. It was remarkable. I did not even have to SPEAK to them, just simply be attracted to what they look like, and they would not respond to me. In some cases, I would start communicating with the ones I was not that attracted to and grow more attracted, the meter would increase in redness, and presto again! They would disappear. Amazing. Simply amazing.

I applied the same scientific approach to men who contacted me first. If I was attracted, the meter would be bright red, the man would disappear or I would discover he was emotionally unavailable. I have become quite astute as asking the questions that pinpoint whether a man is emotionally unavailable. I would go on a date with a man I was attracted to. I would ask the questions and presto! The meter would turn red.

I should market the thing. Maybe I could make a million dollars. I mean I know it means that those of us who can use the meter will be forced to spend our lives with men to whom we are not attracted, and that we will have to work very hard at not liking them because attraction based on personality turns the meter red as well, but at least we’ll be able to ensure a man will stick around. Well, maybe we will not be able to ensure he’ll stick around, but we’ll be able to ascertain when the guy is going to leave or hide his emotions. That could be a good thing. Of course, considering this, I would rather be alone. I don’t want to have a man I’m not attracted to, either in his looks or personality, just to have a man. I suppose I’m destined to life as an old maid. Perhaps I should find some solitary profession for which I don’t need a man. Something like writing. Yeah, that’s it. Maybe I am onto something here…

The Path

Once upon a time there was a lovely little path that ran north and south along a cliff.  The cliff dropped to the edge of the ocean.  The path was covered with ashy, pea-sized pebbles.  The sky above the path connected the ocean to a grassland that grew between the path and the horizon.  The grassland swayed back and forth in the gusts and breezes that blew in off the sea, rhythmic and habitual, keeping time as it had for centuries.  The cliff’s edge scalloped in and out, rising up to one hundred feet above the waves.  The cliff walls were sheer and precarious, plunging deftly into the foam.

The space between the path and the cliff was close; too close for some.  Periodically, a rock wall appeared in this margin, moss bathing the stones in its ancient, curly tendrils.  The cliff below the places where the rock wall stood was particularly steep and rocky, cascading directly into the water below, with no sandy shoreline dividing the face and the water.

In places, hardy trees fought the wind and coarse soil to make a home for themselves along the path.  During winter, the trees were cold and skeletal.  In spring, blossoms burst forth with luster and strength, giving birth to lush foliage that lasted well into fall.

The path ran for miles.  It began randomly off the coast amongst several run-down cottages that overlooked the shoreline.  It concluded at the berth of a hill overlooking a quaint, little town.  Every year different townspeople took it upon themselves to care for the path.  Men would lug bags of gravel to fill the thin places.  Children would plant lupines and sweet peas.

Citizens of the town used the path for various purposes.  Some ran.  Others strolled.  One old woman walked down the path and back every Saturday, no matter the season, no matter the weather.  Couples sauntered hand in hand, sharing the sunset, bundling together against the breeze.

One such couple walked daily along the path, if the weather suited them.  Depending on their schedule, they would walk for a short half hour or spend the day walking to the path’s end and back.  Some days, the fellow held the woman close, her head laid gently on his shoulder, their stroll languid, contemplative.  Others, she would bounce ahead, while he followed more sedately behind.

Regular path walkers knew the couple.  The woman had walked the path since she was a small child.  She had developed a routine whereby she walked its entire length once a week on Sunday if the weather was cooperating.  The man was not much of an exerciser, but he loved to walk the path as well, and gradually adapted to her habit.  When she jogged, he would walk along behind, waiting until she returned, the two walking back together while she cooled off.  Or sometimes he would ride his bicycle, the handlebars unsteady on the gravel, as she ran beside him, her ponytail bouncing to the rhythm of her steps.

One elderly woman, Mrs.  Mettle, often followed them while they walked together, hand in hand.  She eavesdropped on their conversations, wishing her life was more like theirs.  She was not certain of their names, but she had taken to calling them Martin and Beth in her mind.  She felt the names suited them.  She knew the two were not married, but thought perhaps they were planning to do so soon.  Martin worked as a schoolteacher in town, teaching math.  Beth wrote children’s books and sold vegetables and flowers from her expansive garden.  Mrs.  Mettle also knew that Martin owned a rambling, delightful bungalow with an enormous front porch that overlooked the cliffs to the sea.  She longed to follow them into that bungalow and learn more about the life she was sure the two must lead.

Ah, if she could.  As is often the case, Mrs.  Mettle would soon discover that things were not as sanguine as the surface would have the world believe.  Although the two appeared connate, if Mrs. Mettle had spoken to one of the pair, each story would be quite different from the other’s, much more so than either of the two could contemplate.

Both of them had remained unattached for quite a long time before their inadvertent meeting in a bookstore one rainy morning.  Martin had a family who adored him, decent friends, and a good job that, although it did not pay a lot of money, allowed him enough for a comfortable living.  But he had been terribly lonely for a long time.  He had longed to share his life with another.  He dated women and had a few girlfriends, but nothing ever panned out.

Then he met Beth.  She was a wild, fearless, energetic woman who rearranged his every aspect.  Her life was so different from his; she had four dogs and three cats, her work was sporadic, and she often had a million things going at once, which overwhelmed his sure and steady single-mindedness.  But overall, she liked things mostly tidy like he did, she enjoyed art and theater, she cared about the environment, she loved to travel and relished studying other cultures, she had principles and lived her life accordingly.  And she was so beautiful.  Devastatingly so.  His heart ached each time he imagined her pristine complexion, the golden hair she wore casually pulled back from her face, her luminous eyes, whose color matched the ocean below his house.  He felt certain that he was truly in love.  Beth completely captivated him; she was perfect and everything he had ever dreamed of.

Martin knew he had never loved a woman as he loved Beth, and not long into their courtship, he realized he would ask her to marry him.  Even though they had only been going out for a few short months, he had no doubts that she was exactly what he wanted, and he began to plan how to convince her to accept a proposal so early in their relationship.

Beth was not as immediately enamored of Martin when she first met him.  She had a busy life and liked the way things were.  Although she was not in the market for a boyfriend, she welcomed the diversion.  She thought that even though his hair was thinning, he was attractive enough.  He wasn’t conventionally pretty, but she enjoyed the way his eyes crinkled at the edges like he always had a laugh waiting, and his calm and easy smile made her feel secure.  There was an allure in his manner that made her unusually active mind sedate.  He was frankly earnest, and this made her laugh.

Still, she spent their first few dates debating with herself whether she really wanted to go out with him.  He was much too interested in science fiction and sports cars to suit her tastes.  He insisted they watch all of the credits in the movies they watched, which drove her to distraction; she hadn’t the patience for it.  And even though he had worked at his job for a number of years, he complained incessantly about the place when the subject came up, but would take no steps to change things.  She wondered whether he was a pessimist in disguise.

Over time, though, these things seemed to matter little.  He was so attentive, she could not help but react positively.  He brought her bundles of flowers on a regular basis.  He took her to dinner at fine restaurants and refused to even consider allowing her to pay.  Beth had girlfriends who would have found this offensive, but Beth did not.  She actually thought it was quite sweet.  Martin wasn’t pushy or aggressive; he simply wanted to offer her a nice time.  And she liked that, rather a lot.  In time, she was certain she would grow to love this man.

Gradually, Beth stopped questioning her interest in Martin and allowed that she was utterly in love with him.  She accepted the characteristics of his that were different from her, to the point that she found them deeply endearing.  She noticed acutely his absences.  When they spent even one night apart, she found that she could not focus on anything.  When they were together, she felt complete, content.  It did not matter if they were on a date at a fancy restaurant or digging plants in the garden.  In any case, she wanted him there with her.

But Martin had begun to notice what he perceived as Beth’s flaws.  She was irritated by small things and this drove him nuts.  For instance, Beth would swear and complain during nearly every walk about the roots that poked into the path and tripped her when she was not paying close attention.  Why couldn’t she just pay closer attention?  The roots weren’t going anywhere and it ruined their walks to have her bitching about it all the time.

And she was shy.  He would take her to functions at his school and she would stand off to the side, avoiding conversations with anyone she did not know.  Why was this?  She said she felt uncomfortable talking to people with whom she was not acquainted.  But Martin knew them, so why couldn’t she just step up and start talking?  And if she would talk to them, she would become acquainted, thus eliminating the concern over not being so.  Why did she have to make such a production out of it?

Reality was sinking in:  his lover was human and this humanity scared him.  He did not want to feel the distress of heartbreak.  He did not want her to either.  But sometimes he could not stand how she was.  He was also concerned that their being together would eliminate who he had been without her, a perplexing problem for which he saw no solution.  He could not bear turning into one of those meager, simpering men who crouched at the call of their spouses, rushing off to do their “chores” with their tails between their legs.  Castrates, thought Martin.

He was terrified of arguments.  They did not have many, but each time one occurred, he was certain it represented the state of the relationship’s future.  The subjects of these arguments were most often trivial, and usually occurred when both were overly tired, not feeling well, or both.  Yet he was unable to shake the feeling that argument was their destiny.

With time, he began to ignore all of the things about Beth that had seemed so marvelous, and looked longingly into his past at the days he spent alone, wondering how those days had gotten away, forgetting how lonely he had been.  He blamed her for the time he was not spending by himself, for the choices he had made in letting things go too fast.  Oh, he blamed himself too, but he really felt that she was the problem because she was no longer what he had dreamed.  He began to wonder and worry again and again how to eliminate their courtship without the wretchedness that was guaranteed to ensue.

Of course, Martin could not tell Beth these things that bothered him.  To do so would solve nothing.  He did not want to hurt her feelings.  He hated conflict and speaking to her about such matters would bring considerable conflict.  And most of the time, he really felt he loved her.  He would take one look at her immaculate cheekbones, her delicate, slender neck, her impossibly long legs, and swoon.  Could he give this up?  Never.

One morning, Martin decided to take the day off to spend with Beth.  They went to breakfast at a lovely café.  They went back to Martin’s bungalow and made love in the late morning.  Afterwards, they walked hand in hand through town, to the bookstore, and ate lunch at the local delicatessen.  That night, they attended a play together, laughing over its silliness as they curled together in bed, nestled in one another’s arms.

Beth yawned in contentment as she snuggled deeper into Martin’s shoulder, falling drowsily into sleep.  She felt so safe with this man she adored.  Martin lay with his arms around Beth, wondering when their next struggle would develop.  He forced these thoughts from his mind.  He would not think of them.  He would not.  He held Beth close and fell determinedly to sleep.

The next morning, as Beth kissed Martin goodbye on his way to work, she asked if he would like to take a walk down the path on his lunch break.  Martin liked the idea.  He enjoyed getting away from the school during the day, and the path always worked to clear his head.  He readily agreed and Beth offered to pack a picnic lunch.

Later that morning, Beth held Martin’s arm as they strolled away from the town.  No other walkers were out.  It was early spring and winter still held sway over the temperature.  The air was cool and still, a mist hanging over the edge of the ocean, hovering lightly on the tranquil grassland.  They settled onto one of the rock walls overlooking the ocean and spread out their lunch.

Neither spoke as they finished their sandwiches and potato salad.  Beth brushed bread crumbs from Martin’s chin.  He flinched.  She patted his hand and asked if he was okay.  He smiled, but did not answer.  She turned and began to pack the cloth, utensils, and plastic cups back into the basket.  They stood and began to walk down the path.  Beth traveled slightly ahead of Martin, as was often the case where the path narrowed.  As she headed towards town, Beth stumbled over a root in the path.  She stopped and bent to rub her foot, complaining bitterly at the root’s existence, at the fact of its being exposed.

Thoughts flooded Martin’s mind, overwhelming him.  Beth was so exquisite.  In some respects, they got along marvelously.  But she was also frustratingly picky, had an obnoxiously quick temper, and he would never understand her sense of humor.  And most of all, he was losing himself.  He had no idea where his fundamental self had gone.  Who was Martin?  Who was this man who would spend his life with a woman who complained about roots?  He no longer knew.  If he broke up with her, he would break her heart.  If he stayed with her, he would smother.  He would disappear.  Martin would cease to exist.

Martin reached out.  He saw his hands, disembodied from his arms.  He saw his thumbs.  He saw each of his fingers.  He saw the two hands like the plaster hand impressions taken as a child, hanging in memorial on his mother’s kitchen wall.  Together his hands pushed Beth in the back, shoving her hard from the path into the water below.  He did not look at her.  He did not look over the edge.  He did not look down.  He kept his eyes up and walked back to town.