The 51st Way

If you wish to quell your boredom with this lover or with that

Take a quill in hand and write a note to create an awful spat

Accuse them, then be querulous, say they’re nothing but a rat

They’ll question and they’ll quiver, then they’ll quit and leave you flat

Alone at last, your boredom quelled, you’ll grin like a Cheshire cat

You’ll feel quantum relief and joy having made a stunning coup d’etat

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Post: quill

#fiftywaystoleaveyourlover

Here Comes the King, Here Comes the Big Number One

I stopped drinking in 2001. That’s pretty amazing, considering how much, at one time, I loved to drink. There’s plenty to be amazed about my life since I stopping drinking. Loads to write about. But today, I wanna write about something else.

In the years since then, there are these constantly evolving alcoholic concoctions that are of little interest to you when you are no longer a part of the drinking culture, yet clearly must be of massive interest to the drinking community.

My God, all of the vodka flavors alone! I think in my time there was maybe black currant and lemon.  Now there’s lime, lemon-lime, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, teaberry (really?!), vanilla, chili pepper, cherry, apple, green apple, cinnamon, coffee, chocolate, cranberry, peach, pear, passion fruit, pomegranate, plum, mango, white grape, banana, pineapple, coconut, mint, melon, rose, herbs, bacon, honey, cinnamon, kiwifruit, whipped cream, tea, root beer, caramel, marshmallow, and many more!! Wow!

The flavors of tequila. The craft beers! I loved imported beers and bars that carried them. Then, it was less common to find craft beers on a restaurant drink menu like it is today. Then, you’d hunt out a pub that imported your favorites. I even won a contest once by drinking over a hundred imports carried by The Richmond Arms in Houston, Texas. (NOT all in one night, of course.)

What about all of the new twists on drinks that contain more alcohol than the others? Or less, depending on the demographic they are trying to reach. How to make it all look more attractive…must be challenging and fun to figure out new ways and new inventions.

The ad campaigns. The fashionable drinks endorsed by celebrity that sell a lifestyle and promise a dream fulfilled.

All of the above, as I said, are of no importance and therefore little interest to me, but I do find it fascinating from an anthropological standpoint. The alcoholic beverage industry is alive and well! My withdrawal did not make a dent.

But there is one recent alcoholic development that is particularly inventive and amusing.

The slang use of the phrase: Natty Ice to refer to cheap, bad-tasting beer that is cheap but has a higher alcohol percentage, according to the Urban Dictionary.

There actually  is a Natty Ice beer — it is Natural Ice, by Anheuser-Busch. And even they refer to it as Natty.

They even offer a history of how they developed this beer designed to be “the best bang for your buck.”

Here’s an unsolicited consumer review of Natty Ice:

 

Amazing, like I said. I had no idea such a beer existed.

You learn something new everyday. (Even if you really wish you hadn’t sometimes.)

Cheers! (Or not, depending.)

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word: natty

 

 

Ghost of a Chance

Yes, you made an impression on me.

Didn’t you see the way I stopped and waited for you to pass by me once again?

What did you think I was doing? You silly thing.

Nobody is that interested in an ad for a car service in this app-driven age.

And besides, I was pretending to take down the number and it was all 7’s!

Not much to me if I couldn’t remember that, now would there be?

Is that why you didn’t turn around? Didn’t come back to “find” me again?

Surely you couldn’t be that shallow. Not you. Never you.

I was ready to say hello. Ready to start a conversation. Ready to…

But no, you just walked on and out of the station. Not even a quick glance back.

You left me with the ghost of the you and the us that might have been.

The arm that you brushed as you passed me by still tingles from your touch.

You silly thing. I’m very cross with you. I’ll never talk to you again. Until the next time.

I’ll be there tomorrow around the same time…by the car service ad? (Our spot?))

You can make it up to me then…I seldom hold a grudge. Life’s much too short.

But a first impression…lasts forever.
Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: impression

Triggers and Pink Pussycats

I have been hard-pressed to write a blog since before Inauguration Day.

Like many, I am still processing significant losses that were, for many, contained in the recent election: the loss of President Obama, the loss of the America I thought I knew: the loss of the America of my own personal dis-illusion.

It took until two days after the Women’s March for me to realize how triggering the Inauguration and ensuing Presidency have been and are for me. I think I was operating in a kind of denial until then. While at the march, after first feeling incredibly hopeful, I began to feel uneasy. And after seeing that the march seemed to have had such little effect on the administration, it hit me.

I was triggered. Feelings of powerlessness were flooding my system. I was feeling overwhelmed with the sense that my truth, my voice was falling on deaf ears and was of totally no consequence. That things happening were not of my choice, and I had seemingly no recourse to stop them. Reality mirroring crucial traumatic events from my past blasted open the floodgates of remembered trauma.

I know I am not alone. Anyone who has been violated at some point in their life may be triggered again and again in the next four years.

So what can we do about it? How do we survive the daily onslaught of confirmations and executive orders and hard-won laws being threatened from powers-that-be?

Thankfully, I have found some very helpful posts that address this very issue. And if I cannot bring myself to write about usual things right now, I can write about why and I can share what I am doing to address the problem.

One of the best I have read is “How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind
Self-Care Lessons for the Resistance” by Mirah Curzer. Some great things to consider as we move forward, together.

Another article has been very helpful to me. N Ziehl’s “Coping with Chaos in the White House”. The author shares their experience of living with a person having narcissistic personality disorder (NPD.) I am not diagnosing anyone here. But this article spoke to me. It made a great deal of sense and gave me some helpful insights.

What I have been feeling are awful feelings to re-experience. But it was a relief to recognize that they are happening: to know that though there is a present reality that is indeed traumatic to me, there are many other layers happening that are from wounds from the past. Knowing this, I can let the current situation be “right-sized,” and then process the past triggered pain so that I can take good care of myself today. From this place of awareness, I can then take actions to do what I can in order to stay empowered and able to persevere the next four years.

I am finding for me, in addition to practicing the best self-care I can, taking actions each day that help me stay informed and connected to the lawmakers that I voted for, as well as those I did not, is crucial. These actions – calls, emails, letters, non-violent protests and marches, donating to re-election campaigns and organizations that I believe in – they keep me sane.

I am careful as I digest the information that pours forth on social media. I check in with my body, a lot, especially after getting shockingly bad news, such as the “alternative facts,” the travel ban, the recent confirmations, the silencing of Elizabeth Warren. I never know when something new will spark a trigger. I take deep breaths and ask my body what is going on, and I listen closely.

And I lean on my communities. I stay connected to like-minded people who are also active, because it is too easy to begin to feel hopeless as all of this unfolds. We can remind each other that there is power in love and that our actions and our voices do matter. They can remind me of the headway that is being made in our causes when I am feeling low. Together we can persist.

My artist friend Laura Baran created the “We are One” illustration at the heading of this post the weekend of the Women’s March. I keep her beautiful image near to remind me to keep love at the center of all I do.

img_0798

I also reach for my “Don’t Sass the Cat” tee created by another friend, a clothing designer named Jacquie of jqlovesu. It reminds me to keep a sense of humor and to remember the power of love and of people who love people. I run and I sweat and I cry and I sleep and I work to stay hopeful no matter what by taking action.

I am a Lover of Humanity. I am an American. And I want to be a part of the solution. It will be work. But I have never been one to shy away from a challenge.

#neverthelessshepersisted #pussyhat #dontsassthecat #weareone #beapartofthesolution #loveaboveallelse

A Table of One’s Own

The idea of it is so appealing to me. I’m out and about, on my own, in the world. Feeling happy…feeling secure…feeling strong….feeling hungry.

I decide to take myself to a nice meal in a nice restaurant. It starts off so well.

I consider different restaurants as I walk around. I check out their ambiance, their menus. I make a decision, and filled with joyful anticipation, I walk in. I approach the host or hostess with optimistic excitement.

And so it starts. It takes a bit longer than I’d like for them to address me. They make some kind of quick appraisal of me, and it is decided on some level that I do not measure immediate attention. They continue with whatever task they’ve decided they do not need to interrupt to greet little ole’ me.

So I wait politely until they get around to helping me. While I wait, I ponder the mysteries of this situation. This is not my first rodeo. I have been here before: the last time I attempted a meal out with myself. And the time before that. And the time before that. Ah yes. Nothing has improved.

What happens in that nano-second appraisal that leads to me being treated as an afterthought? Is it because I seem so amenable? Does my WASP-y middle-class upbringing resonate that I will tolerate a lot in the name of appearing in social good graces? Or is it because I am middle-aged and they do not actually really “see” me, because as studies show, people aged 45-65 are invisible in popular culture and media and therefore no one can really “see” them in life? That doesn’t explain every attempt to eat out on my own I have ever made in my adulthood…the many times prior to middle-age I went solo.

I tell myself it doesn’t matter, I push down the surge of anger that has risen up from my belly. I want to have a nice meal. They’ll deal with me soon enough. Calm down, Norma Rae. Let’s stay nice. Don’t stoop to their level. Maybe we are being a bit sensitive, dear. Don’t be THAT lady. (Yes, I do talk to myself like that. Even I have ingested the cultural attitude towards my own age and sex. That is perhaps the worst betrayal of all in the experience. That internal voice that judges me right along with their judgement of me. But I digress.)

Finally, the hostess or host comes over and with the enthusiasm of a gnat and asks anemically, “May I help you?”

“Uh, yes, you can. I just walked into your restaurant. What do you think I am doing here? I want a fucking table!”

Well, at least that is what I say in my head. To them I simply say, in my best I-am-woman-hear-me-roar-yet-still-non-chalent voice, head cocked in my best dignified angle: “Table for one, please.”

A tiny moment of something registers in their face. They’ve made some kind of judgement about my solo status. Sometimes there is the smallest trace of a slightly smug smile, usually from a much younger woman, as if they are thinking how pathetic I am, how superior they are, how assured they are that they will never be me. Sometimes, veiled contempt flickers across the man’s eyes, as if I will be wasting table space and time with my presence. Assumptions that I will not tip? That I will be, in addition to alone, cheap?

They set off ahead of me to show me to my table. We wind back through the restaurant, usually to some table in the back, in the corner, by the bathroom, facing the wall or server station. Thinking, I guess, that I, being alone, will prefer to be out of the limelight. That I will want to be alone in my shame. Or to hide me from the other, cooler diners? Don’t want to bring them all down with my aloneness?

I usually accept the offered table without a fight, though I have, at times in the past, insisted on a better table. The way I feel as a result of this action is usually more trouble to process than the bother of being seated at the lame duck table.

Then comes the longer-than-necessary wait for every part of the meal. For some reason, the lone diner is sort of relegated to being the low priority in terms of server values.

This really gets my blood boiling. What do they think? That because I am alone I won’t complain if I have to wait just a bit longer for them to come over and take a drink order? I would say it is because I am a middle-aged woman, and perhaps that is true, but I know other people have had the same issues dining out alone and they have been a variety of sexes and ages.

So I won’t make this a sex, age or gender-related issue. I will just call it the Mistreatment of the Solo Diner.

When I was traveling this summer, I walked out of three different restaurants in three different countries because of this phenomenon, so it is not just an American issue. I expected to be treated better in foreign countries for some reason. Nope.

Dining out alone has rarely been the real pleasure I always envision. Ethnic restaurants such as Indian or Japanese have tended to be better options as a solo diner. Not sure why. Maybe they are more used to solo diners. Because solo diners gave up on the other restaurants and started populating the ethnic restaurants? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I welcome your own stories of dining out solo, good or bad, in the Comments section below. Is it just me? Or do you know exactly what I am writing about?

I’m over it. The next time I go to eat solo, I am going to speak up at every turn when I feel I am not being treated well. Just as an experiment. As neutrally as I can muster. Though I expect to feel awful having to do that (with that Protestant, female upbringing, any such speaking out brings with it a pretty potent mix of guilt and shame no matter what the outcome,)  I am just going to see what unfolds as a result. I have nothing to lose.

Don’t forget. As Johnny says at the end of the movie “Dirty Dancing,” “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

Fat is Not Funny (to Me)

My whole life I’ve been confused as to why people laugh at fat people.

You see it everywhere. Greeting cards with pictures on the front of a fat lady in a bikini or some big man holding a sandwich or something.

Popular culture is flooded with fat jokes and humor.

Character actors and comedians have made careers out of making fun of their own fat: John Candy, Roseanne, Homer, Fred Flintstone, the King of Queens, to name just a few.

Some of these people lost weight at some point in their careers and actually had trouble finding their new audience dynamic because so much of their appeal centered around their being fat.

People love to laugh at fat people.

I never thought fat was very funny.

Maybe because I was a heavy kid who was teased and bullied mercilessly in elementary and junior high schools for being overweight.

If you were ever that kid, you know it’s not funny.

Maybe because I grew up loving one of the greatest men I’ll ever know, my brother, who also happened to be obese. I’ve always been incredibly sensitive to jokes made at the expense of the overweight.

If you have ever had an obese relative, and know the suffering it creates for the relative and for the family and friends who love them…if you’ve witnessed first-hand the looks, the comments and mean behaviors of strangers…you don’t think fat is funny.

Fat shaming is a thing now. It has a name. It has been debated heatedly as something good.  (Shame as a motivational tool? Really?) And as something bad. (Fat people say that they are being discriminated against and just want to be accepted as they are regardless of a physical attribute, such as color or size of body.)

That fat shaming exists as an issue at all to me illustrates the total lack of understanding around the issue of being overweight. The issue of fat.

There are no greeting cards with junkies on the front. Or anorexic women or men. Why do we laugh at fat people? Why is there so little empathy for people struggling to lose weight?

Is it because generally most people think being overweight is someone’s fault and so the person deserves to be laughed at? Whereas there’s more room for forgiveness for a drug addict or some other more acceptable person who is afflicted by disease?

Is is because it is tied into the idea of sin? Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, also known as capital vices or cardinal sins. That goes way, way back into our social and cultural psyche…maybe it is encoded into our DNA so deeply that it has created a blind spot in our ability to have empathy or even understand what fat is.

Someone carrying extra weight is seen as a lazy loser, lacking will power, with too much appetite. Gluttonous. Lacking character and immoral. Disgusting.

I posit that most people, despite the over-saturation of information on dieting and other weight loss products that is out there, still view the issue of extra weight as a pure willpower issue.

Overweight or fat people are not commonly seen as a person who suffers from a disease, a food disorder, a reflection of an emotional disorder. As someone who learned to use food as a way to cope with life, in the same way an alcoholic or a heroin addict or a debtor uses those substances to handle their lives, in a disordered way.

I have a theory. I think that when people laugh at fat people, it is because on some level they are so uncomfortable at the literal evidence of pain that fat people are wearing. It cannot be hidden, the way an alcoholic’s or a bulimic’s or anorexic can. It’s out in plain view for all to see, a suit of pain, and on some level it reminds us of things maybe we also do not want to look at in our own lives. Our own appetites that we’ve learned to suppress. Our own uncomfortable feelings that we have not yet found a healthy outlet for.

We laugh because we see someone who is living out some revolution against something or someone on their own body landscape, and on some level it pisses us off because the person is not “towing the line” and keeping those feelings and desires stuffed down where we, as a society, have agreed such things should go.

So we express a cruelty towards these people in ways that in any other situation would be totally unacceptable and perhaps even unthinkable to us.

Why don’t we see fat people as people in pain? People who need help dealing with life differently? As people with a chronic disease?

Why do we still watch shows like The Biggest Loser that only address and promote the cosmetic issues of weight loss and not the underlying causes of the eating disorder: the person’s disordered behavior with food, a reflection of a disordered relationship to being in the world?

Why do we only want to get Physical Education back into schools when we need more than just “better eating” and to get kids moving to deal with the ever-growing numbers of obese children in this country? Those things are needed too, yes. But those things alone are not solving the issue. So they appear to not be working.

(Of course, this lack of understanding, this mis-education, is great for the diet product industry. It makes people constantly in search of the next big fad, the magic pill, the quick fix. Google and explore how much people spend each year on diets and pills and fads and you will see who benefits from the results of this misunderstanding towards fat and overweight.)

When will fat be treated as an emotional, behavioral issue, not a purely biological one?

As a disease like any other. Not a party joke. Not a greeting card.

I don’t know what to do to help this situation, to help educate and inform and shift the attitude towards fat, but I know something needs to be done.

Fat is not funny to me. When my brother died at 47 from complications of his obesity, I promise you, nothing about it was funny. He was a brilliant man with a wicked sense of humor and a huge, sweet heart. I will never stop grieving his death, and I miss him every single day.