Saturday, June 08, 2013
This is from this blog:
It's written by Erin McKean, a woman whose work and wit I love - she's a lexicographer (and she does great vintage fashion work, if you're interested in that sort of thing..which I am!)
You Don’t Have to Be Pretty
So the other day, folks in the comments were talking about leggings. I'm pretty agnostic about leggings, but the whole discussion (which centered on the fact that it can be *really* hard to look good in leggings) got me thinking about the pervasive idea that women owe it to onlookers to maintain a certain standard of decorativeness.
Now, this may seem strange from someone who writes about pretty dresses (mostly) every day, but: You Don't Have to Be Pretty. You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked "female".
I'm not saying that you SHOULDN'T be pretty if you want to. (You don't owe UN-prettiness to feminism, in other words.) Pretty is pleasant, and fun, and satisfying, and makes people smile, often even at you. But in the hierarchy of importance, pretty stands several rungs down from happy, is way below healthy, and if done as a penance, or an obligation, can be so far away from independent that you may have to squint really hard to see it in the haze.
But what does you-don't-have-to-be-pretty mean in practical, everyday terms? It means that you don't have to apologize for wearing things that are held to be "unflattering" or "unfashionable" — especially if, in fact, they make you happy on some level deeper than just being pretty does. So what if your favorite color isn't a "good" color on you? So what if you are "too fat" (by some arbitrary measure) for a sleeveless top? If you are clean, are covered enough to avoid a citation for public indecency, and have bandaged any open wounds, you can wear any color or style you please, if it makes you happy.
I was going to make a handy prettiness decision tree, but pretty much the end of every branch was a bubble that said "tell complainers to go to hell" so it wasn't much of a tool.
Pretty, it's sad to say, can have a shelf life. It's so tied up with youth that, at some point (if you're lucky), you're going to have to graduate from pretty. Sometimes (as in the case with Diana Vreeland, above, you can go so far past pretty that you end up in stylish, or even striking (or the fashion-y term jolie laide) before you know it. But you won't get there if you think you have to follow all the signs that say "this way to Pretty." You get there by traveling the route you find most interesting. (And to hell with the naysayers who say "But that's not PRETTY"!)
For a bit more on this topic - mostly the "jolie laide" part - there's this from the NYT:
Saturday, June 01, 2013
Since my old FitBit quit and they kindly send me a new One, I've learned something interesting: My ability to sleep is even worse than I thought.
I've always been a very light sleeper, and for years had to have absolute darkness and absolute quiet to sleep (and if I had them, I'd fall asleep literally in under a minute.)
I was always a back sleeper, until I gained so much weight a few years ago and started to snore. Then I'd wake myself up every time I fell asleep, like some demonic sleep-deprivation experiment, and so I had to learn to fall asleep on my side. I got that part down well enough, but rolling over was a problem - every time I started to roll over, I'd stop on my back, where I was comfortable, then snore and wake myself up. I learned to wake up enough to intentionally reposition myself on my other side, then go back to sleep.
And even though we slept in separate bedrooms for years (his back pain and snoring made it impossible for me to sleep, and my kvetching made it impossible for him to sleep) knowing my husband was in the house, whether we were sleeping together or not, made it easier for me to get a good night's rest.
I don't wake up well from any kind of make-you-sleepy thing. Even innocuous things like Benedryl leave me half asleep for many hours the next morning. The old stand-by, the night-cap, doesn't work for me terribly well either - I fall asleep quickly, but waken about four hours later. I've read that it's a sudden drop in blood sugar that causes it, and it's quite common. If I take a (not two, just one) Benedryl at night with a glass of sherry, I'll sleep like a stone for eight hours, then go downstairs to the sofa and nap like a stone for another four. 50% of the 24 hour day spent sleeping isn't really okay.
I can concoct a mix of substances (nothing like a background in experimental psych, heavy on the brain chemistry parts) that will let me sleep for eight hours, and even waken somewhat refreshed, but in the first place, who wants to be drugged every night, and in the second, I strongly suspect it messes with the brain's sleep cycles, because I have weird dreams in odd sequences.
With the FitBit, you tell it what time you went to bed and got out of bed, and it generates your sleep pattern in between. It seems that although I'm in bed for a decent number of hours - somewhere between seven and ten, depending upon whether I have a good book to read - I'm only getting between three and five hours of actual sleep. One night it was only one hour and change. I wake somewhere between 10 and 15 times per night, sometimes more. My "sleep efficiency" is around 40% - I think the highest I've ever seen it is 67%. By contrast, my daughter who works alternate weeks day and night at the emergency vet clinic and needs very little sleep (and never has, even as a tiny baby...) has about a 97% sleep efficiency.
I could throw the dog and the cat off the bed, but I don't think they bother me much, and besides, I like the little buggers. Having them both hammering at the door all night wouldn't improve my sleep much anyway.
I've read all the Sleep Tips and Insomnia Help and all of that. For a while I thought it was lack of exercise, so I got more exercise. Then I thought it was depression, so I got help for depression. Protein before bed. Ambient noise. No ambient noise. Room temperature. Not staying in bed to fret when I can't sleep. Staying in bed so at lest my body gets some rest. I've done it all, and nothing seems to help.
This clear picture of what a lousy night's sleep I get, though, is comforting in many ways. I no longer have a lingering suspicion that there is "something wrong with me" because I'm so weary all the time, nor that I'm sliding slowly into dementia because I'm so forgetful and am losing what used to be an excellent vacabulary and ability to spell. I think I'm just sleep deprived.
But because sleep deprivation correlates with so many things, none of them good, it may be time to see a doctor and go spend a couple nights at the dreaded Sleep Clinic and let them poke around inside my head, or teach me to sleep with a bit in my mouth, or whatever it takes. I loved not needing much sleep. I really don't love not getting enough.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
I am finally semi-gainfully employed - 20 hours per week, although being May and all, I'm putting in about twice that at the moment, which is fine. I work for:
where I am the landscaper and greenhouse manager. Ten hours a week I have SEMP (Supported Employment) help - one of the participants is assigned to me to do whatever I ask them to do, typically simple but labor-intensive tasks, like moving 100 flats of vegetables from one place to another. The other ten hours I spend doing any number of landscaping tasks, from climbing around in the barn looking for various things to planting shrubbery. Right now I'm there so much more simply because it's planting season (and also the big important Dinner is coming up in a week and a half, and everything has to look Perfect.)
My main project at the moment is the Sensory Garden, which is a wheelchair accessible garden that, as the name suggests, engages all five of the senses. I'm putting in plants with different textures (fuzzy, smooth, rough), scents (herbs and scented geraniums), and tastes (different mints, nasturtiums.) For hearing, I have wind chimes and a little waterfall into the pond I dug in last week, and for seeing, well, with any luck the whole garden will be gorgeous, with all different shades of green in addition to different colors of flowers. I also have a bird-feeder and bird bath, and a gazing ball to put in.
So far I've gotten the paths in. I didn't take any "before" photos, but this shows the wheelchair accessible path:
where you see the weedy places, well, the whole thing was like that. There are a few perennials buried there in the weeds, but it's mostly just scrub. I have to tear all that out and replace it with plants and the other items I mentioned. Since this photo of the path was taken, I've put in three raised barrels so that people in wheelchairs or who cannot bend easily can still run their hands over the herbs and taste the mints.
Just wanted to bring my Spark Buddies up to date - and this explains why I haven't been around as much. Too busy!
(that's a truck load of mulch! )
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Sorry about the picture quality - that's what you get with a phone in a weirdly lit kitchen.
Anyway, that's my Green Smoothie (or juice - I'm still not quite sure of the difference - possibly a smoothie uses a blender and juice comes from a juicer.) The larger pitcher behind it is the rest of the batch - I got a little carried away adjusting the flavors.
The tiny glass in front is my Chia Shot. I'm not a fan of gelatinous drinks, so I may have to work with this one a bit.
In the back is my newly started batch of kombucha.
My meals lately seem to consist largely of chlorophyll, bacteria and fungi. And yeast...I forget what kingdom yeast belongs in. It's something like a eukaryote, isn't it? *waves away question*
The Green Smoothie actually isn't bad. I've learned that wheat grass just tastes...green. Parsley, however, which looks simply green, actually has a really strong flavor. A bag of spinach doesn't give very much juice. Neither does a bag of carrots. A knuckle-sized lump of ginger helps almost everything. I can see that a juice-alone diet would use a *huge* amount of vegetation weekly.
I have no clue as to how to track a green smoothie (or juice) nutritionally. I'm not much for tracking anyway, but I'd be interested to know. Perhaps I should consult my Green Smoothie Lover teammates.
And in other news, I got my new FitBit - the old one quit about three weeks after it's one year warranty expired, but the Customer Service people were extremely nice and gave me a free new One. So now I have no excuses about not knowing how far I walked or how hard I worked - FitBit and SP sync flawlessly.
So, soon I will be so healthy none of us will be able to stand me. You can blame this on my daughters - one just wants to fit into her cute clothes, and the other has been insufferable ever since she ran that marathon. *grumbles somewhat enviously* But they've been reading stuff and juicing things and pestering me to buy goji berries - I don't know what they are, but whatever it is, Wegman's is always out of them. And I have hemp hearts and cacao and Lord knows what other healthy oddities lying about waiting for me to consume them.
Oh well. I said I'd do it, and I am.
Friday, May 24, 2013
This is the latest installment in what is apparently a continuing saga of irritation and disappointment, stemming from dealings with people whom you'd think knew their jobs. This is even better than my usual complaints about Home Depot people who don't know a Phillips from a flat, and grocery store people who don't know where the mayo is. This is about the people who control the driving lives of all New Yorkers.
I'll skip the gory details of the back story and get right to the part where, in mid-March, I didn't have two nickels to rub together. One of the bills that didn't get paid that month was my car insurance. In New York, you MUST have car insurance at all times, or your outrageously expensive registration is revoked or suspended or some such nonsense.
Since I kept expecting to settle on the land sale momentarily (beginning on April 12th - we finally settled May 9th), I didn't really break out into the cold sweat that was apparently called for - I just carefully observed traffic laws and generally flew under the radar.
The minute I got the check from the land sale, I paid all my overdue stuff and got my car insurance reinstated. I assumed (oh, you can see the danger from here, can't you?) that the DMV would learn that my insurance had been reinstated by the same magical process through which they had learned it had been canceled, and my registration would be reinstated as well.
Oh, silly me.
I decided to do grown-up things on Wednesday, and one of those things was to telephone the DMV and be certain that all was forgiven. It wasn't. Not by a long shot. The woman on the phone told me that I not only had to pay a huge fine ($8/day for the first 30 days, $10/day for the second 30 days, and $12/day thereafter up to 90 days, upon which something unspecified but undoubtedly hideous occurs) but that I also had to turn in my plates and not drive the car for an amount of time equal to the length of time it was uninsured, which in my case would be until early August.
To say I was devastated would be an understatement. I repeated what the woman had said several times, because in my admittedly limited experience with various laws, you either pay the fine OR do the time, not both. In this situation, she assured me, I had to pony up the $720 *cough* AND be without a vehicle for 75 days. No way around it. Since my license was still perfectly fine, I could buy a new car (oh, sure), fix the pick-up and get it inspected and registered (right again) or drag the 1974 Opel out of the barn and do the whole re-title (it's in my late husband's name), inspect and register thing (once again, not happening.) I could walk to work (what the h...eck, it's only a 22 mile round trip)....or bicycle (22 miles of steep hills.) So I spent a goodly part of yesterday coming up with some pretty sketchy plans to title a vehicle in PA (where I technically still have an address), and after great hassles and nonsense, have something almost legal that I could drive until I got my license plates back.
I went back to bed at 9:30 in the morning and stayed there for 24 hours, emerging only for the occasional martini. I know you don't approve, but I couldn't cope. Not a bit of coping available there.
Then yesterday I rallied, got a decent breakfast and went to work. I asked at the place I work if by any chance we had a spare pick-up I could use for 75 days. My friend and supervisor Julie asked me why I needed it, and I told her the whole sordid tale. She said the same thing had happened to her two years ago and all she had to do was pay the fine and she didn't have to turn in her plates at all - that option was only if you couldn't or didn't want to pay the fine. WHAT??
I got home and called the DMV - got a different woman who assured me that, yes indeedy, that was true. Pay the fine and everything is copacetic. Keep the plates. Drive the car.
I told her what the woman had told me Wednesday morning and was told, "Oh, she must have been mistaken." MISTAKEN? EXCUSE ME? "Mistaken" is when you think your friend's birthday is the 23rd instead of the 22nd. "Mistaken" is when you think you recognize someone, but it's not that person. "Mistaken" is NOT when it's your job to tell people the traffic laws and YOU DON'T KNOW THEM. And this isn't some vague, teensy paragraph buried deep in NY state's convoluted legal system - this is a situation that has to come up almost daily. Mistaken. *rubs temples*
So all I have to do is drive to the DMV, which opens in two hours (I've been dressed and ready to go for twenty minutes now...I woke up at 4:00 a.m.) and pay the absurdly high fine, and then I'll be totally legal again.
Unless I find the woman with the soft voice, that one from Wednesday morning who was "mistaken." Then we may be dealing with assault.
Get An Email Alert Each Time SCOOTER4263 Posts