Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Last Week, In Photos

Good timing!
Lilac season!  So blissful, so short.  I've found two big bushes that sit on property that MIGHT not be actively owned and cared-for.  Under the cover of night I cut as many blooms as I can fit in a grocery bag.  Lilac bandit, unashamed.

Blown up, it's really apparent how out-of-focus this picture is.  I was just so proud to have found morel mushrooms in my own front yard.  Soooo delicious sauteed with kale, garlic, and Irish butter.

I can't wait for Stella to come home and arrange my flowers for me.  I have to have flowers inside my house.  Flowers and candles make up for piles of clutter.

Lush backyard, halfway weed-eaten (hence the orange cord snaking over the back stoop fence)

Sad attempt at gluten-free lemon cornmeal pancakes.  But everything tastes good covered in fresh strawberries and sour whipped cream. 

My next-door neighbor picks flowers for me.  Remember being 3 yrs old and only picking the blooms?

Early spring in the Ozarks.  I love this time of year.

The landscape I adore.

Pink house

Once I had a flying dream where I flew over this exact same pasture outside Clifty, AR.

My grandmother's favorite blooming tree, the Dogwood.

I wish I knew the story behind this little church that sits off Highway 45 between Hindsville and Clifty.

Church outhouse

Captures the Ozarks perfectly, huh?


Hindsville, Population 75

One day I'm gonna stop and have a piece of pie at the Valley Inn Cafe.  Doesn't it look like they'd have good pie?

Valley Inn Cafe, Hindsville, AR

The tail end of Rosebud season

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Un-Sexy Breasts

I've hesitated writing about this because it isn't my story to tell so I will just keep it to my feelings and reactions to learning that my oldest, closest girlfriend was diagnosed with breast cancer.  "We are way too young!" was my first thought, but of course we are not.  "But she's the healthiest person I know!" I thought next...as though that's ever stopped cancer before.  There is no family history.  She was 38 when she discovered a mass during a routine self-exam.  To my readers in your thirties - when was the last time you did a self-exam?  Really and truly.  It seems that there was a bigger PR push for self-exams in my twenties than in my 30s.  In my shared housing in college we even had a hangtag on our shower caddy reminding us every time we took a shower.  My friend is a nurse at Planned Parenthood so perhaps she thinks about women's health more.  Or hell, maybe she just feels herself up more.  Like I said, not my story to tell.  All I know is that she was told to come back in a year to have it checked again.  When she returned last month it was immediately diagnosed.

Today is her surgery and it's all I can do not to get on a plane right now just so I can smother her with love and cooking and taking care of her household for her.  But I know she has a very strong circle of girlfriends around her who love her as much as I do and will take good care of her.  Her doctors are optimistic and she is trying to be positive so I might as well too.

This is the 2nd time breast cancer has affected my close circle of friends.  You may recall my writing about my friend Patt who passed away in June, 2012.  This isn't uncommon.  It's a disease that strikes 1 in 8 women in the U.S. (if these statistics are to be believed) and is the 2nd highest cancer rate of women behind lung cancer.  These will not be the only women I know affected by it.  I pray that I will not be.

I'm not a fan of that "pink for breast cancer" crap.  And it's not even that helpful, really.  I was super pissed at the Susan B. Komen organization for cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, even though they've reinstated that funding.  They have a decent rating on Charity Navigator (if you don't know about this site already, it's incredibly useful before making contributions), but I tend to think that if it weren't for the extreme and massive public backlash, that funding would still be cut.

I don't want to buy any pink ribbon junk.  I don't really want to participate in any Race for the Cures.  I think, on my next payday,  I will just donate in my friend's name to Planned Parenthood, where she works part time and where low-income women can be screened for cancer in addition to receiving contraception and other women's health services.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

I Gave Her My Heart And She Gave Me A Pen

Lloyd Dobbler.

We know that name, that guy.  He's the Benjamin Braddock (The Graduate) of my generation.  We know he is into kickboxing ("sport of the future") and Diane Court.  His shy-but-confident wooing, his earnest and abiding love for her, his speech about not wanting to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything,  and of course this boombox scene - he pierced the hearts and minds and longings of my generation.  He's a touchstone for us tail-end-of Gen X'ers.  How many of us girls wanted a guy to do this, make a big, dramatic, romantic gesture?  How many of you guys wanted to work up the courage to get the smartest, prettiest girl in your class to fall in love with you?

Say Anything is 25 years old, which is shocking and painful for me.

I was 14 when I saw it at the Malco Razorback 6.  I went with my friends and co-workers from the snack bar at Blue Springs, a strange hybrid fish hatchery/natural springs/stop along the Trail of Tears where petroglyphs are visible on the rock structures.  In reference to the Trail of Tears connection, the snack shop was called The Indian Giver.  For real.  It was my first job.  I made popcorn that visitors bought to feed the ducks and scooped ice cream all day.  The family who owned Blue Springs had three children close in age to me.  The middle sister and youngest son (my age and 6th grade "boyfriend") invited me to drive to Fayetteville to see Say Anything.  I was thrilled to finally be making my own money and had saved up to buy a bottle of Estee Lauder's Beautiful perfume which I sprayed myself lavishly in preparation for the excursion.  We lived an hour away from the move theater that showed new releases so it was a bit of a production to get a group of people together to see a movie.

What I remember about seeing it the first time in that theater is how strongly I identified with Lloyd Dobbler, more so than any of the female characters.  I also had a weird family life.  I fell hard in love with guys and just knew how good I could be for/with them.  I loved Peter Gabriel and the early Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Replacements and Fishbone like Lloyd.  I didn't want to anything to do with processed, bought, or sold products either.  I knew what it felt like to be disappointed by the adults in my life.  I liked to wear a big, old green army trench coat (have you ever noticed how teenagers tend to wear baggy, oversized clothes in order to hide from the world?).  Lloyd seemed to have shit figured out, or trusted that he would figure it out if not.   He had soul, something lacking from most films about teenagers.

I think so much lately about aging.  I don't know if it's because I just turned 39, or because I'm living alone for the first time in 20 yrs and have time to think about things.  It boggles my mind that 25 years have passed since that night at the Malco 6, when I left the theater with my heart in my throat, so ready to feel that elation of solid, hearty, "I will follow you to England" true love.  I'm still waiting, really.  TWENTYFUCKINGFIVEYEARS.

My favorite song from the Say Anything soundtrack, which I might still have somewhere on cassette.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pushing Through Hard Stuff

This week has been rough.  I've fallen off the clean eating wagon a few more times than I'd like to admit.

Two weekends ago, my sister and I took our grandmother to Hot Springs for my birthday weekend.  We took three senior citizens plus our special-needs adult cousin to the horse races.  My patience ran thin.  I acted bratty.  I have so little patience for people who are obviously full of shit, even if I know that deep-down they're good people or I'm related to them by marriage.  Oh well.  It's not my place to inform others when they're full of shit.  It's my place to recognize it, adjust my reactions appropriately, and be grateful that most of the people in my life are legit, smart, quality folks.  I insist upon it.

My eating habits need to be reined in more.  My wonderful co-worker offers me mint Oreos or Andes mints every afternoon; she might as well be offering me heroin.  I am weakest in the afternoons after hours staring at a computer screen and deflecting every request that comes my way.

This phase is all mental.  I am fighting mental demons

This week I'm redoing the Couch to 5K Week One.  It took me nearly a month to complete Weeks One and Two.  HOWEVER, the fantastic new hot yoga studio in town, Trailside Yoga, was offering a too-good-to-be-true offer of 90 days for $90.  So I can go as often as I want.  I did three classes in two days last week.  I've been twice this week.  My goal is to get up to 4-5 classes per week.  The teachers are positive and energetic and exactly what I need when I leave work for the day.

Here's the deal - I've been "doing" yoga for about ten years now.  I've periodically attended classes and have a pathetic half-assed home practice.  I know that my balance is stronger than my flexibility, which has helped my confidence in yoga.  So I can't bend forward at the waist and touch the floor with my face in the wide-angle seated stretch (upavistha konasana), but I can manage a few seconds of crow pose (bakasana) before I topple over and can hang out in tree pose (vrksasana) for what feels like forever.  What I love about yoga is what it teaches me about my own body and its strengths and limitations.  I know that I need hip-openers and flexibility exercises because those kill me the most.  I love that these teachers always include an inversion because inversions challenge the hell out of me and are so necessary with how I spend 8-10 hrs per day, sitting in a chair staring at a glowing screen.  Because I have made these hot yoga classes a priority I am starting to see incremental improvements!  Each class I am pleased to discover that I can hold a pose longer without dying inside or having to drop my arms or hide out in child's pose (balasana) for a bit.

The scariest pose of all for me is a headstand.  I'm scared because I've had chronic neck and back pain and I'm afraid of hurting myself.  I'm scared because it's SO dramatic and challenging.  I'm scared because I think I'm too heavy.  But, with the help of instructors, I've gotten into a headstand twice now.  Pushing through the mental blocks and fear is what yoga does for me and why it's my favorite form of therapy/exercise/relaxation.  I sweat SO MUCH in these classes.  It drips down on to my mat and off my arms and I immediately go home and peel the wet clothes off me and throw them in the washer.  Mentally I picture toxins leaving my body along with the fear and constant inner dialogue of "you could never do this; you are too fat; you are too old; you will never change."

In other change news - I got glasses.  My eyes are all kinds of F'ed up with nerve damage in my left eye which has made my right eye way overcompensate and I frequently go cross-eyed and tend to squint with my left eye more and look ridiculous and weird in pictures, which means I frequently look weird and ridiculous in real life.  Maybe these will help.  I mean, I will always BE weird and ridiculous but don't always want to LOOK weird and ridiculous.  You know what I mean.  I hope these help.