Thursday, September 22, 2016

When being the Disturbed Hibernating Bear is a temporary departure from your constant Zen self

This being married thing is sometimes awfully tiresome, especially when you remember you signed up for a lifetime. Anyone in an intimate relationship lasting longer than five minutes knows this. Often the stress stems simply from the fact that you are a person apart from your so-called better half. There is no getting around this: you are two people with separate brains, each brain infused with muleheadedness. This, despite all the church talk about being one in God's eyes the moment you say your vows. Living with another person day in and day out is the litmus test for patience, altruism and self-awareness. How much does one put up with in the name of unconditional love? How much does one give up of one's preferences? Some days you cave just to keep the peace and some days you let the steam out and scream back. Boy, does that feel good. For about two minutes. The spouse is startled into the re-realization that you are quite capable of pushback.

You wonder how people stay married. You wonder why people even marry to begin with. Don't they know what it can be like? Do they think they're exempt? Are they convinced they're exceptional and able to float above the chaos? Didn't their mothers/girlfriends/sisters warn them? (And you acknowledge with some guilt that you are partly culpable in perpetuating the romantic myth of married bliss, due to those posts when you are at the moment quite adoring of your beloved, and those posts that never get written, a sin of omission if you will, when you are at the moment regretting having said "Yes" that many years ago.)

So let's talk about anniversaries—the announcements of such on social media, the resulting outpouring of congratulatory comments. Thirty years wed, you say? The higher the number, the more we are supposed to be impressed.  Some of us concede during these announcements that the journey hasn't been padded with rose petals. We are being kind, and that kindness comes out as vague references to bumps and snags. We like to think we are not sugarcoating or whitewashing, when in fact we are, but it is called not washing dirty linen in public. This is how we distinguish ourselves from the juveniles who trumpet every dissatisfaction and slight, and change their relationship status to "It's complicated" whenever the SO exhibits a pinprick of insensitivity.

Right about now you are looking for a redeeming factor amid the venting. Maybe if this were a post on Facebook you would be tempted to write "SMH." Maybe you want to, facetiously or sincerely, (either way, infuriatingly) suggest that one could use a glass of wine. And, if you are single, you might already, four paragraphs up, have concluded that you are better off.

I wrote all of the above about a month ago, when I was particularly peeved at the spouse about something I don't even recall now. I have long since simmered down, as I knew I would, and might have forgotten about the draft had I not come across Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person in The New York Times Sunday Review.

There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.
In other words, you could be lonely as a singleton or despondent within marriage. Choose your poison. And doesn't that hold true in other areas of life? You could be exasperated as an employee or as an entrepreneur. You could be confused as a believer or as an atheist. You could be indignant as a conservative or as a liberal. You could be deprived of human rights as a citizen or as an undocumented immigrant. You could be exhausted as a dancer or as a couch potato.

The opposite is also true. You could be grateful for income as an employee or an entrepreneur. You could be devout as a believer or an atheist. You could be committed to justice no matter which party you vote for. And so on.

What have we learned here? What pithy summation can we formulate to put this post to bed? How about:

The circumstances may not have changed, but your perspective changes everything.

P.S. I'll paste my reply to Eugenie's comment, below, as I am unable to respond to it under her comment: Lovely seeing you here, Eugenie. Thank you for commenting. I felt so much better after getting all this down in writing and putting some distance between myself and my emotions. Yes, gratitude cancels out resentment.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The post in which I diss another writer's opinion on sexuality in fitness trends

Words in red are mine.
Have you ever noticed that fitness trends geared toward women tend to be a bit sexualized? You don't say!
While we support a woman’s choice Did we appropriate the Planned Parenthood slogan? to get fit any way she chooses, we’d love it if the following sexualized workouts and fitness trends disappeared, like, yesterday. Like, you just gave away your inexperience in life, my dear.

1. Mermaid tail workout

Yes, you read that right. Well I do have my bifocals on. Cliché alert. The Hotel del Coronado in San Diego hosts a weekly class called Mermaid Fitness. The class is a “high-intensity, full-body workout” that’s basically “circuit training mixed with an ab workout on the side of the pool,” Well and Good reports.
“You’ll swim laps to get your heart rate up, and I also included standing stationary movements, like squats and arm exercises with a beach ball,” Veronica Rohan, a fitness instructor at the hotel, adds.
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with donning a tail and getting sweaty, There's plenty of weirdness about donning a tail and getting sweaty! Plus, neither the fitness instructor nor the publication you quoted said anything about a tail. but last time we checked, mermaids were considered highly sexual, human-luring creatures. Did you check with Disney, though? So, it’s a bit odd that this sexual fetish is now considered a great way to burn calories. We’ll just stick to swimming laps in the pool in our swimsuits. If you like that kind of boredom, sure.
We should note that the class is open to men, too, which does relieve us slightly. Well I'm glad one of us is relieved. That actually makes me wonder why men would want to don a tail. Still, though…

2. Pole dancing

This exercise trend isn’t new, but it is still really annoying. We’re all about learning how to feel sexy, but there’s just something about these classes that creeps us out. First, is pole dancing that good of a workout? A question asked by someone who has obviously never tried it. Couldn’t you get similar results by going to a pilates or yoga class? I've done all three kinds of classes, and in a word, NO. Second, strippers are highly sexualized in a negative way Is being highly sexualized ever done in a positive way? in the United States. So, until they are respected by the masses, Bwahaha! Are you holding your breath for this to happen? Not if you perpetuate the ignorance with an article like this. perhaps we shouldn’t name a class after what they do to make a living. And third—and this should go without saying—if you’re doing this workout because you want your partner to think you’re sexy, think twice. Because the person you’re sleeping with should appreciate your body and moves for what they are—not because you’re taking a strip aerobic class. Uh, so nobody should take a class to look and feel better, and maybe even feel more confident in bed? We should just be grateful for the status quo the way the orphans in Oliver Twist weren't supposed to ask for more gruel?

3. Super-hot workout selfies

The Greatist recently published a great piece about how fitness “gurus” and  models from all walks of life are embracing the following motto in the name of losing weight or firming up: “If you do it, you’ll look great naked.” Sure, everyone wants to look good when they’re in their birthday suits, but isn’t fitness really about health? Does it have to be one or the either?
“#Fitspiration has turned into full-blown, soft-core porn workout videos of girl after girl deadlifting in bootie shorts,” Greatist reports. “These videos clearly inspire more calories burned from fast wrists moving than any other part of the body. Hahahaha! Best line in the article, but you didn't write it. You can’t actually work out to them, as they quickly cut from one shot of a girl doing a handstand in a thong to another girl bouncing up and down doing jumping jacks in a bikini.”
And now the cop-out — err, disclaimer: Now, even though we are a bit weirded out about these exercise and fitness-inspired trends doesn’t mean you should be. Because if you feel comfortable doing these types of workouts and they make you feel good about your body, then go ahead and do the workouts! Just make sure the organization or class you’re taking is all inclusive and supports bodies and people from all walks of life. I should worry about that? I can't just go and work out? Should I pause at the door and gauge if the class supports bodies and people from all walks of life, then turn around and leave if the ratio of fit to fat bodies is off?
From "Three Sexualized Workouts that Freak Us Out"

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Dancing, sewing, gardening, yoga—it's all about finding God anyway

Yesterday I was digging around in my spare bedroom where I imprison piles of thrift store clothes and vintage linens that swallowed my story about some day glorifying them into the stars of my upcycled etsy shop. Some of them have been waiting for years. Each time I go in there I hear flea-thin voices shrieking, "Pick me! Pick me! I'd make a great ruffle."

In the corner is a stack of opaque plastic tubs with lids. I haven't looked in them for eight years. Just because they were next to the fabric pile I was digging in, I took off the lids and looked.

And was thrown into an archeological dig uncovering long-dead hobbies. Stencils for wall borders that went out of style 20 years ago. Craft scissors that cut fancy edges in paper. Rubber stamps of juvenile images I outgrew long ago. I began buying all this stuff in the '90s every time there was a coupon for the craft store. Like every hoarder-crafter, I hadn't paused to think if I'd ever find the time to use the stuff, and the tubs had turned into a time capsule. These were my artsy aspirations in my 30s. Unfulfilled.

At least I learned this about myself: I was a maker earlier than I gave myself credit for. I tend to trace my maker urges only back to the turn of the millennium, when I made my first Halloween costume and took first place in the staff competition. It took two decades to recognize myself as a creative being shepherded by an analytical brain rather than a logical mind with sudden, unpredictable urges to make something.

These days my soul identity as a creative (apparently the truly creative leave off the noun and use the adjective solo) feels so solid that it's practically my religion. I fellowship with artists. I worship with my needle and thread. My service to humanity takes the form of each new thing I shape with my hands. Thinking this way redefines my creating from "me time" to respectable work time. The only thing missing is a regular paycheck, but to extend the church analogy, I get whatever change is tossed in the collection basket.