Fiery

Posted on April 18, 2014

The other day I saw something on Twitter that made me angry, very, very angry. I wished that I could muster the kind of scathing post, backed up with reason and examples, that Liz Gumbinner has been known to write on things like sexism in Tech and cheap stereotypes in advertising. I couldn’t quite get myself beyond 140 characters. My whole body was shaking, but with each tweet I tried to stay even.

“No wild attacks, Amanda. Stay focused,” I told myself.

I’ll admit that I half hoped that someone on Twitter would join in, defend me, attack him, something. I wondered if I was sounding like Tipper Gore did when she took on the music industry. My frustration with women as set dressing in ads or gratuitous vehicles for a love, or more likely a rape scene in movies, has hit an all time high. The issue on this particular morning was a pair of quasi hiking boots being displayed pressed upon a woman’s bare breasts. It just didn’t make sense and, more disturbingly, it came from a company I’d admired and seemed wholly out of character. When there was silence on Twitter, I actually felt even more confident—this was my battle, not having wingmen didn’t change anything.

I didn’t change this company’s mind and when the person responded that it was art with a capital A I did not laugh maniacally and attack the keys.  During a subsequent thread on Facebook where I asked how people felt about T&A as a tool in advertising, I felt pretty good about the conversation that took place, though I wish that I could still support the company. I wish they hadn’t taken this turn, I wish that I wasn’t so bothered. They make a really sweet product, but that isn’t enough for me.

It would be great if I could allow myself to become inured to the barrage of faceless cleavage used to sell window blinds or the rape scenes that according to screenwriters, plausibly morph into love stories in movies. It would be so much easier. I wrote in a poem the other day that the snarl of my twenties has quieted a bit, but the truth is, the assertiveness of my 40s is only just getting started.

I may be in the minority, my protests may be tedious for some, but they are real for me and having the courage to use my voice is something that makes me feel genuinely proud of myself.

How about you? Are you finding that you can stand up for what you believe in?

 

 

Buyer’s Remorse

Posted on April 15, 2014

We are a few weeks from diving headlong into a kitchen renovation. It will be a small business owner’s mix of paying professionals for their skills and then doing a bit of grunt work ourselves to keep costs down and our pride in check as we can’t seem to feel good about anything with which we didn’t do some of the work. Still, kitchens are expensive no matter how you slice it.

I would love to buy all new appliances as the ones that we have, fairly recently purchased though they are, present daily nightmares. The stove is one of those flat surface, can’t-ever-be-truly-clean abominations. Only one burner truly works and the whizz-bang sensor buttons don’t seem to read a gentle press, so we’re forced to jab at it accusingly, “Why won’t you turn up to 350, damnit, why?”

The refrigerator doors do not close without an emphatic slam, sometimes even just popping back out as if mocking us. The freezer door has had two issues related to a design flaw, which resulted in massive, thick slabs of ice forming in the bottom and trapping errant peas like beetles in amber. The service was covered but came in that universally inconvenient, “a technician will be to your house between the hours of 7am and 2pm. Can you have someone at home during those hours?”

I can handle the fridge because we have, as Sean calls it, the “Hey dimwit, you left the door open again,” alarm. Although truth be told ‘dim wit’ is not exactly the word he uses and technically when it goes off after the girls have left the door open, they are so far out of earshot that it serves no purpose. Still, I can hang. Same goes for the oven/stove because I’ve learned to make one burner meals.

The dishwasher though, that’s an entirely different story. This particular appliance is a magical gateway into things that the kids can do themselves. They can work collaboratively; they can cross something off the list in minutes, except when they run the risk of knives hitting them or glasses falling. And so it is that I unload the dishes and then they put them away. Extra step inefficiencies are my favorite.

I don’t do much video (noted easily by the use of a vertical instead of horizontal frame) and I try not to do much complaining, but this felt like it might have the potential to be a crossover hit, melding frustration, absurdity, and, “Hey, my life is discombobulated like that too!” You can’t see the cracked buttons or the wonky detergent holder, but I think you’ll get the idea.

I feel about dishwashers the way that I do about panty hose, no matter how much I pay, they will disappoint me. My friend Liv swears that a Bosch won’t do this to me. So tell me, are all dishwashers just a complete scam?

Posted on April 13, 2014

 

Seventy inches, maybe 69, all mine

hazel eyes, moody hair, constellations of freckles

this upper lip that gets caught on a tooth

skin that erupts in chills at the sound of a stretched cotton ball

a throat that tightens and eyes that sting

more often as the years pass, sometimes from joy

other times not

I’m getting better with not

with not fair and not my problem

not like others and not ready yet

 

The gift of these years is this

my 70 inches, or maybe 69, finally fit

I touch each one, rather than shrink from

I know the outline and color my edges

I can stay in the lines or bleed beyond

the reflexive snarl of my twenties—still there

but the scar tissue of 40 reminds me of its price

the reflex rests

the angles of my face carved from the flesh of my youth

my youth

Three lives I’ve made, grown in my body, fed from my body

and loved with the parts of me that can’t be measured

they say that we shrink, our bones more brittle, our bodies less supple

but these lines of mine, curves and hollows, tears and roars

they are stronger, less tentative, magnificently unique

I take my 69 inches, plus one, and I run

no longer from myself but to the next yes.

A Light Touch

Posted on April 12, 2014

CoastTouch

 

Sean and I wrote a post back in November, which we shared here a few weeks ago. It was a post that, as one commenter wrote, did not resolve itself. I’ve struggled with how, when, and what to respond with in this space. We knew we were running the risk of judgement, maybe even putting people off with touching on such a delicate topic.  I’ve been deeply humbled by the private messages that I have received from men and women who felt a connection to our words. Wisdom, regrets, anger, they all came through with unflinching honesty. Sean took serious heat in some of the comments on Huffington Post and even more in threads that grew on twitter. A few jabs came at me pretty hard as well.

It was like watching seeds we planted start to break through the soil—feel at once powerful for creating life and powerless as to which way it would grow and it if would survive. The post was one sliver of a much larger life, obviously, but it was true, with both of us at fault and yet completely in the right at the same time. We talked a lot about how people reacted, so many of the things that were said steeped in history of the relationships from which they came. We’ve joked about some it, with Sean making lunch and prepping dinner for me in his underwear.

Labor

 

I let the laundry sit and made overtures that are completely out of character, deliciously so. We certainly don’t have it all figured out, but we want to try. Sean helps out more than the post let on, but after working on things with the post, the response, and our own desire to change things, prepping dinner became a symbol of something greater and he felt really good. Same goes for the things that I did, the worries that I allowed myself to drop.

I saw something this morning as I tried to muster up the courage to write a poem for an event that I am going to tonight. It’s an Amy Turn Sharp poem and, as many of her poems do, it peels back the curtain on passion. I think somewhere between the dirty laundry, that funk that gets between the stove and the counter, the permission slips, and projects that need to be finished for work, there has to be space for this doesn’t make sense and we don’t have time heat.

Just read Amy’s words and imagine not forgetting.

there is not enough water in the world to put out my fire
bring me my pencil and I’ll make you a list
of all the things I want you to do to me
can you imagine some people just stop
burning bright
some people forget
how to be consumed

Will you try?

Excuse Me

Posted on April 11, 2014

mornlp

Wednesday morning I set out for a quick 36 hour, conference whirlwind. As I made the drive from Glens Falls to Lake Placid I played the radio game, and as mountains on either side of me rose, I hit the seek button. I drank a 24 oz bottle of water and a 12oz unsweetened iced tea as I listened to country music, Vermont Public Radio, french pop, and then back to VPR.  Travel, no matter how brief, always leads me to drink more water and coffee, the former making me feel virtuous and the latter decadent.

Before checking into my hotel I stopped at a couple of stores to pick up sweets to give away at my table at the conference. I bought another couple bottles of water. Check-in was a breeze and before I knew it I’d unpacked everything and found myself with a spare hour. I threw on my running clothes and went for a hilly and spectacularly beautiful run. Later, I had a long soak and drank more water.

Why is she going on and on about water? I’m almost there, I promise.

The next day I woke up before dawn, another odd thing about me when it comes to travel, I love waking up to see the sun rise. Lake Placid is almost always a good five or ten degrees colder than Glens Falls, so I was ready for a hot drink when Starbucks opened, having been walking in 20 degree weather in wildly inappropriate for the temperature clothes. I bought a latte, a water, and one of those super expensive juices that promised to help me ‘defense up.’ I had to race to get showered and packed to be checked out of my room and at my table before 8.

The conference went really well, I had  person after person stop to talk to me and surprisingly I shook off the tongue-tied awkwardness that can so easily accompany these sorts of events. After about 4 hours I had to get to a bathroom. My body is not used to my travel drinking and my bladder was in a perilous situation. I did an ungainly prance walk down two long corridors to the bathroom. As I pushed the door open I heard a woman talking, I moved to the opposite side of the four stall bathroom and unbuckled my belt as fast as my fingers could work.

Just as I collapsed on the toilet I realized that the woman was still talking.

“Well, yeah, I know. I just think that if that’s how she feels, then she needs to step up.”

I waited. Her voice rang so clearly through the bathroom I couldn’t imagine what would happen if I started peeing. Surely it would ping against the toilet like, as they say, a cow pissing on a flat rock. I waited, my knees touching.

“So which hospital? Uh-huh. What about Mack? Yah, uh-huh.”

I scrunched up my forehead, she didn’t sound upset, but she wasn’t peeing. Had she told the person she was in the bathroom? Would she say something if I start peeing? I was starting to feel crampy twinges. I couldn’t do it. I grabbed a handful of toilet paper and put it in the toilet. Please soften the sound of my pee. I was so relieved. It had been nearly silent.

Of course she’d get off the phone, right?

“No, I don’t think so. Kohl’s? Could be,” she sounded bored.

She was still talking and I needed to flush. I waited. I felt naked sitting with my pants down just listening to this woman talk. She walked out of the stall without flushing her toilet. Did she leave stuff in there or just not flush because she was on the phone?

Damnit, am I supposed to not flush because she didn’t? Is there some sort of unspoken rule about keeping up the “I’m not having this conversation in a public bathroom” facade?

I waited. After 30 seconds my lip snarled and I thought, “You know what lady, I’m flushing.” The whooshing of the toilet erupted like a fire alarm. I breezed out of the stall and made for the sink, she gave me a sideways glance, cocked her head, and then said, “I’m hungry” and walked out of the room.

I have honestly experienced a lot of things but it was the oddest, rudest, most bizarre thing I’ve been through in a while.

Would you have peed? Flushed?