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Archive for August, 2010

The gravity of the situation

A comment on a recent post starts my day off as dawn cracks on the rock this morning and sets me to contemplatin’. It’s from Lisa Thibault Pietsch, a dear friend and former editor, one hell of a good writer who has known me for years and has great observational skills she’s not one bit shy about sharing.

Sandra, you live life with so much passion that the ups are WAY up and the downs are WAY down. I don’t think you could live any other way. If there is one truth I know about you, it is that you cycle the ups & downs like clockwork. I take comfort in knowing that your passionate soul will attract something even better that takes you higher soon.

Lisa has firsthand experience with my passion since trying to rein it in on work I was paid to write and she was paid to make palatable to a fractious audience provoked some heated debates, so I’m listening to her, trying to take on board her perception on the cycle of up ups and down downs I lose sight of while traversing this apparently inevitable parabola.

Lisa thinks I can’t live any other way. Hm. That’s worrying. It’s also unintentional. Call me unaware, but I have no recollection of setting any course meant to send me hurtling toward space, then drag me back down to crash and burn.

The way I see it, I’m a plodder; I go day-to-day trying to make it through, maybe even get ahead a bit. I’m not a good planner, since that’s never quite worked out anyway, so although I do set goals and strive to reach them, I’ve had few that came with any clear path. Given my background, I have a certain flexibility and the dexterity to sometimes intercept the errant grenade lobbed in my direction, but I almost never see them coming. I can take a direct hit and prepare for the next … it’s true that just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do … and when a joy presents itself, I can embrace it.

I neither expect nor anticipate jubilation or despair … both have come as bolts from the blue … but try my best to live and learn in the moment (I once wrote, “What is life but a series of moments?” … I believed it then and believe it now in this moment.), following the advice of that well-known smart guy, Mr. Einstein, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” I care for my kids, treasure my friends, work when I get it, brush my teeth, pay my bills … plod along.

So, is this my “passionate soul attracting”, or simply the fact that life on Earth comes complete with gravity? What goes up, must come down and we’re just along for the ride … that’s a law, isn’t it?

Or is it true that gravity is a myth … the reality being that Earth sucks?

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I’ve been pondering lately what it means to be a woman. Some might think I’d have a grip on this, given how long I’ve been one, but there are times when the convolutions of gender are illusive.

On one hand, reflections of my womanhood are simple and typical; I love my kids, only feel comfortable with body hair from my eyes up, enjoy chilled white wine and am okay with crying my eyes out when prompted to do so.

On the other hand .. well, I’m confused, because on the other hand is the OTHER gender and the spanner interaction with that half of the population throws into my works leaves me at a loss … of a whole bunch of stuff. As some have gathered, yet another relationship has ended, this one after almost two years, and I’m trying very hard to figure out what portion of this painful termination I could ever have hoped to control … after all, life is supposed to be a learning experience … and how much woman-ness vs man-ness influences processes.

So … do I just know how to pick ’em, or were men put on this earth to disappoint? Is it the woman in me that forces me to demand sweet things bring joy with the calories and not be fatal? Does the other sex have as little control over a compulsion to put the “man” in manifest destiny?

There’s no shortage of information on the biological imperative, that overripe old plum (and here I can’t help but envision a scrotum … sorry ’bout that) insisting men are driven to conquer, and conquer often. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been told I should understand “a fuck is just a fuck, but love is love”, well, I’d be able to fill a sack that could leave a nasty bruise upside a head.

A quick search leaves no doubt that I’m far from the only person pondering, as questions like “Can you love someone and cheat on them?” are asked, and answered, often … and not just in the depths of a soul.

Does it make sense for guys to go along with the idea that they will never have sex with anyone else ever again, when the biological imperative of the male is to mate with as wide a variety of partners as possible.

At the same time, the biological imperative of the female is to find a man who will stay with her and provide for her children, and a man who is mating with other women may be tempted to instead provide for the children he has with one of those other women.

So what is love? Love is the insane state of the male to agree to violate his biological imperative to meet her biological imperative. So by this definition, if you’re willing to have sex with another woman, you can’t be in love, but OTOH, if you’re willing to give up the opportunity to have sex with other women, you’re insane.

Citing the Coolidge Effect, it could seem we … women, that is … are doomed to disappointment.

Human males experience a post-ejaculatory refractory period after sex. They are incapable of engaging in sex with the same female after ejaculation and require time to recover full sexual function. In popular reference, the Coolidge effect is the well-documented phenomenon that the post-ejaculatory refractory period is reduced or eliminated if a separate female becomes available. This effect is cited by evolutionary biologists as a reason why males are more likely to desire sex with a greater number and variety of partners than females.

Considering that a great deal of the research establishing this “well-documented phenomenon” was based on studies of rats … well … you get my point.

In case you don’t, it’s this …

Humans have … theoretically … evolved beyond the base drives of rats and dogs and pigs. Men have managed to learn not to pull down their pants and shit every time they feel the need (although peeing can still be a bit of an issue), and most can walk down a street without threatening every male passing through “their” territory. Men can create beautiful music, art, literature, spiritually project themselves into dimensions of peaceful contemplation of the wonders of the universe, plumb the depths of grief and comprehend and incorporate the emotions of those around them.

So, is it simply a blood flow problem? Does even the most insignificant penis require the full essence of a man to stand at attention? And must that attention preclude every other important detail in a life? (When it comes to human bodies rather than celestial, “waxing” has such different connotations for men and women.)

In the words of the immortal Dorothy Parker:

Woman wants monogamy
Man delights in novelty.
Love is a woman’s moon and sun;
Man has other forms of fun.
Woman lives but in her lord;
Count to ten and man is bored.
With this the gist and sum of it,
What earthly good can come of it?

What earthly good? Indeed …

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“Two years on a tightrope”

Tensile strength’s a wondrous thing
when strung ‘tween heav’n and hell
and balancing upon a string
has often served me well

I’ve found a step in some directions
moves me toward a goal
(though a predilection for erections
leaves me less than whole … )

Scampering back a step or two
toward heaven? or toward hell?
and I’m remembering what I knew …
All lessons learned too well.

On one end, there’s my future
the other holds my past
but either end can injure
and both could be my last

I’ve walked the rope almost two years
between his needs and mine
broken promises and tears
unraveling the twine

Possible? It never was,
with this I learned to cope,
withstanding lies and all because
our world was hung on hope

The tensile strength is ebbing
the tightrope’s come undone
it’s loosed the complex webbing
keeping he and me as one

It’s snapped, that rope, and left me
hanging inches from the earth
My safety net has saved me;
still in tact and know my worth

There’ll someday be another
with the strands all forged anew
Yes, there will be other lovers
and, yes, someone will be true

“Faded Blues”

The color has all drained away
no blues, no blacks, no shades of red
The world is now a dreary gray
because I have to heed my head

The music’s gone, I’ve lost the tune
There’ll be no dancing neath the moon
And why? Because the colors lie …
they hide the truth behind their dye …
because the music, by and by,
would leave me dancing all alone
and for such times I would atone.

I’ll find some color somewhere, true,
some music once again will flow
and when it does I’ll say I knew …
back at a time the world was gold
and full of so much wondrous stuff …
a magic man who was my world
loved me, but just not quite enough.

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As you see by the choice I made way back in the age when blogging meant knowing your HTML and I put Paradise Preoccupied up, I’m a fan of WordPress. Not only is it a stable blogging platform with cool themes that is simple to use and easy to navigate, it also provides stats that give a blogger some valuable info. Not only can I see how many people are reading, which posts attract, where people are coming from, what links they chose to follow, but a whole lot more.

One section of information is a day-to-day listing of search engine parameters … those words or phrases one types in when looking for something specific on the Net; interesting stuff, but I am often appalled by what leads to my writing.

Those who spend some time here on PP know that I’m far from prudish … shit, I swear like a fuckin’ sailor and blather on about unsavories when the mood strikes … but I don’t see myself catering to pervs. Perhaps, however, I’m floating down the river Denial.

People do find the blog by inputting my name, Paradise Preoccupied, adoption-related topics and fam affiliation, but what is more than odd is how often poorly spelled pleas for porn are Googled, and why the heck they send people my way?

Here are some examples of what pops up:

• girls pulling girls underwear out
• plastic boobs fail
• aside panties
• big panties
• plastic panties
• pedophile in paradise
• titty tether
• incest capital of britain
• tribe woman tits
• looking women in japan in panties
• long schlong
• titties on your face

I mean really! Who are these people?

It’s easy enough to suss out how my blog comes up in a search of some of these … my post on pulling on the big girl panties was provocatively titled, I know, and Panties Aside just aggravated the issue … but I’m at a loss to understand why some variation of “tits pointing up” appears almost daily — twice last Sunday.

Less salacious searches puzzle, too. How many people actually spend time looking for “the meaning of Scrabble”? (They’re sure to be disappointed with my answer.) And I apparently touched a nerve when titling a blog “Bill Mahre is hot, is he not?” since “Bill Mahre is hot” are words googled at least twice a week, as if a lot of folks are looking for confirmation of this irrefutable fact.

I get flack from some quarters for writing as often as I do on personal matters, but I swear on my iPad I have never claimed my tits point up.

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Me younger

After having some 20-something-Eastern-European-wannabe-porn-queen-facebook-crawler point out to me that I’m older than Ernesto, apparently thinking attempts to reveal her skanky bits on webcam will win his heart … good luck with that, Bitch … I cast my mind back to a time when I was really bloody cute — pretty much most of the years between 13 and sometime last week — remembering the effect youthful beauty can have. (Not that she’s a beauty, but she is young and has a decent enough body she exhibits indiscriminately, although with the chest of a 12-year-old boy and destined to be terminally hag-like before she’s 45 … but that’s her problem. And it’s amazing, and pitiful, how many of these sleazy bags are insistently chatty with their cyber heros).

I have no problem being who, what and how old I am; conversely, I’m rather proud of all that stuff. I am not young, and although the world is full of girls who still are, their days are numbered. I’m not saying there’s any great advantage in age, simply that it happens, as does life in the process.

As Yoda said: Luminous beings are we; not this crude matter.

Crude matter that begins to decay immediately, is subject to stresses and toxins and gravity, the effects of which have more to do with our genes than we yet understand. (“Crude” being also otherwise definable, however, we can be happy enough with our matter a lot of the time. I’m a big fan of crude between consenting adults.)

It’s true, however, that the Sandra I am now doesn’t look as much like the Sandra I once was as I might like.

Recently a story popped up that reminded me again of what it’s like to be young and beautiful … as opposed to not-so-young and beautiful.

The setting is Disney land, and the story is about a 27-year-old woman not one bit happy after Donald Duck grabbed her boob.

“Who are the strange people in the furry costumes at Disney World, and are they pervs?

I’m not clear on how boob grabbing happens with the sort of mitts a Donald impersonator must wear to pull off the look, and I’m pretty sure it takes a certain je ne sais quack to opt for walking around in a duck suit for a living. I’m also not getting why this chick is being so fowl about the whole thing, unless the fact that he never wears pants has her freaked.

But this isn’t about the Romanian tramp, the Disneyland babe, or even about ducks … it’s about me and Goofy, some guys in stripes … and a monster.

It was a while back, for sure, as my gorgeous nephew, Colin, was about 4 at the time, and I was in L.A. doing the fam viz thing. Keeping to the tradition of the day, we headed to the Happiest Place on Earth, home to Mickey and Minnie, for a day of getting nauseous in teacups and going to hell with Mr. Toad.

It was far from the realm of my personal Fantasy Land, but somewhere near the border where Frontier Land meets New Orleans Square I was accosted by Goofy. He took me in his somewhat floppy arms, shoved his gigantic plastic nose toward my chest and started mumbling something that sounded … well … goofy.

My nephew was not pleased, thinking that he should be the one with such a photo op, so we soon moved along toward the frozen banana stand. A few minutes later, Goofy joined us on the bench, moved, maybe, by the sight of me eating a chocolate-covered banana on a stick. We eventually gave him the shake at Autopia where Colin outraced me, hands down.

Eventually, it was time for our day of the Diz to end, so we headed down Main Street where my brother did nothing to defend my honor when I was grabbed by the strolling Barbershop Quartet, plopped on the knee of the tenor and had “Baby Face” belted out around me… in four part harmony … as a crowd gathered, my brother snickered and I blushed.

And you know what? I wasn’t angry. I didn’t contemplate a lawsuit. In fact, I considered the day excellent in every way.

Two days later, it was Universal Studios for us all, and there things got a bit scarier … for my nephew. Every time we got off a tram or exited from an attraction, Frankenstein was there … pawing at me … growling in his mask. For a four-year-old, this wasn’t funny, and the sight of his auntie being monster-mashed had him in enough of a panic to send us scurrying for lunch.

I’d not thought of those adventures in a while, but even though over the years there have been plenty of men who’ve pursued me … some successfully … there’s something special knowing I’ve been desired by sweaty guys in costume.

So …

My thoughts on getting groped by a Disney character? Be happy Daisy didn’t slap the shit out of you.

My advice to slimy bitches slithering around the web, thinking that youth wins out? I don’t have any. Instead, I have my memories …

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In my time zone … GMT+4 … it’s Friday the 13th, and seeing how crap the rest of the week … month … year … has gone, I’ll be watching my back thankyouverymuch.

In prep for doing so, I gathered some info on history not my own concerning the reasons behind this particular combo of day and date having ominous overtones.

Friggatriskaidekaphobia is the bon mot coined to describe the fear of Friday the 13th, and if that’s not reason enough to stay in bed the whole day, head under the covers, and a refusal to speak to anyone for fear of having to admit to having the condition … well … I could think of a couple of others, but don’t need to.

Thankfully, planning ahead is possible — a stock of tea on hand, a couple of good books, that sort of thing — since every year has at least one … but no more than three … Paraskevi the dekatreis, and any month that begins on a Sunday is warning that the 13th on a Friday will happen.

Funnily enough, while most people now welcome Fridays with open arms and high hopes for a hoot and a half, historically, the whole TGIF thing wasn’t happening until recently:

The actual origin of the superstition, though, appears also to be a tale in Norse mythology. Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil — a gathering of thirteen — and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as “Witches’ Sabbath.

Unlike moderns eagerly packing up cars and heading outta Dodge in a Dodge, as far back as the 14th century Fridays were considered an unlucky day to begin a journey, as Chauser suggests as he sees his folks off to Canterbury.

So, Friday was a downer, and the idea that 13 is an unlucky number has a few traceable roots:

In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve signs of the zodiac, twelve hours of the clock, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, twelve gods of Olympus, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.

Numerology, astrology, mythology, Christianity … hang a hat already.

When some bad shit happened on Fridays that fell on 13ths, folks started putting two and two together and came up with a baker’s dozen called spooky.

The Knights Templar weren’t happy about the day after King Philip had a slew of them arrested on Friday the 13th, 1307, the Battle of Hastings startedon the Friday the 13th of 1066 and ended badly for King Harold, Wall Street crashed Friday the 13th of 1929. Hurricane Charley made landfall in south Florida on Friday, August 13, 2004. The “Friday the 13th Storm” struck Buffalo, New York on Friday, October 13, 2006. The Andes Plane Crash of 1972 occurred on Friday, October 13, 1972.(For the same sorts of reasons, the Spanish-speaking world has Tuesday the 13th marked as a bad day in the making.)

And how does all this impact today? Well …

According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. “It’s been estimated that $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day”.

So my idea of resting recumbent lo lili has me thinking I should have lots of company … so to speak.

But does the day actually attract shit? Hm. Debatable. The wiki:

There are conflicting studies about the risk of accidents on Friday the 13th. The Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics (CVS) on June 12, 2008, stated that “fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays, because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home. Statistically speaking, driving is slightly safer on Friday the 13th, at least in the Netherlands; in the last two years, Dutch insurers received reports of an average 7,800 traffic accidents each Friday; but the average figure when the 13th fell on a Friday was just 7,500. However, a 1993 study in the British Medical Journal that compared the ratio of traffic accidents between Friday the 6th and Friday the 13th stated that there is a significant increase in traffic-related accidents on Friday the 13th. There are indications that there are more accidents on Fridays than average weekdays (irrespective of the date) probably because of alcohol consumption. Therefore it is less relevant for this purpose to compare Friday the 13th with, say, Tuesday the 13th.

Driving in Holland is okay, but stay well off the roads in the UK? Okay … and I’ll add, avoid the M25 on any day!

There is, after all, no sense in tempting fate, unless such things get your rocks off. That didn’t work out so well for stuntman Sam Patch who picked the day back in 1829 to make his biggest jump … even bigger than his history-setting plunge over Niagara Falls … and died in the process. (Have to add his personal slogan here, since it cracks me up: Some things can be done as well as others.)

I leave it up to readers to decide what to do with their day … once it rolls around to longitudes more westerly … and take some comfort in the idea that I, for one, can avoid the friggatriskaidekaphobia outbreak warming up already in anticipation of Friday the 13th of April speeding toward us for contact in 2029 … or 2036 … or whatever … when 99942 Apophis puts an end to such silliness.

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As mentioned in recent post, I have a tattoo on my wrist now that reads: Arcum tenderi Vertatum Dicere. It’s there to remind me as I work that writing true is a responsibility whether I’m writing fact or fiction.

Or even news.

There are rules to journalism, but once again a story from the BBC indicates that a rocko-socko headline, no matter how ridiculous, takes precedent.

Puts me in mind of a bit of Evelyn Waugh verse:

You cannot hope
to bribe or twist,
thank God! the
British journalist.

But, seeing what
the man will do
unbribed, there’s
no occasion to.

The headline that has me on this rant this morning?

Large waist size linked to ‘higher risk of death’

I’m not bothering to mention how annoying I find the BBC’s “compulsion” to wrap quotation marks around “random words” in headlines, as if “qualifying” their “shouts” makes them “less accountable” for “poor choices” and “lazy editing”, although I do find it “very annoying”.

What’s bugging me is the “higher risk of death” thing heading the piece and much of the copy that follows:

… very high waist measurements equivalent to UK size 24-26 in women and XXXXL in men appear to double the risk of mortality.

The study featured was conducted over a nine year period, so the research counted how many involved died over those years. Fine. There’s some science in that. So can we not be shouting from the rooftops that some folks have a “higher risk of death” than others?

Okay. I do understand that what they are trying to say is that obesity is known to cause health issues that may end up being the cause of death … perhaps “premature” death, meaning that extremely fat folks might live longer if they dropped tonnage.

BUT … that not what they write. Well … not until you crawl down the page a bit and fill in some of the blanks, and it becomes the reader’s job to figure out what the heck instead of the writer’s responsibility to clearly report what the heck.

Let’s get something straight … everyone dies, and everyone dies once, so there is no possibility of “doubling the risk of mortality”, at least not until someone gets a handle on that immortality thing and is able to put it on the market.

As ‘infotainment” contaminates more corners of journalism and consumers of “news” are dumbed down daily … outFoxed? … those who see the difference between reporting and appealing, enlightening vs entertaining, sense and sensationalism, should bust the chops of anyone paid to post pap and remind them that when they don’t understand what they’re writing about to ask more questions, because not doing so and simply writing what scans results in a “higher risk of disparagement”.

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