Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Springerization of America

I don't know why people are so surprised by Donald Trump. Perhaps they have just not been paying attention? Probably, in the fashion of civilization embarrassed, they have looked away from the clear and unbroken path that uncouth media have been forging through our culture, a firebreak to disable education and insinuate violence and conflict wherever possible. Probably, they were too busy looking down at their gadgets to notice that "extreme" competitions or other feats of hostility have become the evening viewing choice of millions. Bigtime wrestling used to refer to a small group of avid fans, not the state of our politics.

If they had been watching, they might have noticed Jerry Springer taking over the daytime TV audience from boring old Phil Donahue, way back when in the 1980s. Jerry was so much more exciting, getting his guests to whomp each other for incest and scream insults about infidelity right there on camera! Made to order entertainment (and please consider the turn of phrase). This was just about the time that Reagan rehabilitated GI Joe for the kids - I remember being hopping mad about that one, as I had the kid. Bet you didn't notice they actually stopped making those toys for a while after the Vietnam debacle, did you? For a short (very short) while there, the military was not fashionable. Really!! Go look it up!

Little by little, media's pursuit of the lowest common denominator has eroded our schools, jacked up our hackles, and made heroes of thugs and criminals. W could have hardly turned down the September 2001 opportunity, suspiciously handed to him on a platter, to paralyze the populace with fear. Has anyone actually read the ridiculously long text of the USA Freedom Act? Does anyone still believe it has anything to do with our freedom?

From Tea Party to Trump is an easy jump; easy to convince a quivering culture that the Gov'mnt is our enemy in a world where we are fresh meat for foreign interests - Communists, Moslems, Refugees, People of the Other. A whole generation of fearmongering and greed poured into dumbing us down enough to actually consider a creepy, rich, blowhard, fascist as a candidate for office - any office! Trump is an idiot compared to Hitler, which only means our standards are even lower than a starving Germany. And I think it is sad that serious people are giving him the time of day. They should have seen him coming a mile away.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

My Cup Runneth Over

For all you other enablers out there, Big Mommas and Big Daddies (if you remember transactional analysis), we have a problem. We are so busy being on call for the needs of our family and friends that we never seem to think to pour attention into our own selves. How many times have you joined a gym, started a diet, moved training equipment into your basement because you know you need to get fitter, but it seems impossible to focus for very long? Suddenly it has been days, or even weeks, since you thought about it? Other commitments got in the way - family, friends, and work commitments? There is never enough time in the day to please everyone you would like to please, and you are never ever on the top of that list.

People like us, people who sing harmony in the chorus of life, have had to either learn that there are lines we can't cross, or, by the third stage, we are pretty much all drunk up by other people's needs. I have tried to keep an oar in my own waters, so to speak, and set up habits like busing (I have to walk!) and carrying my lunch to work so that I don't go out for a nasty quick hot dog or forget to eat all together, but it has been a constant struggle my entire adult life to pay me more attention than that. Even the new business I have started only gets leftover hours and sometimes I forget I must prioritize it if I want it to succeed. Hell, sometimes I forget I started it!

I have the gift of hardy genes and I have about used them up molding my sleeping habits, my eating habits, and my priorities around my family. This pretty much means that for most of my life I have slept little, eaten a lot, and worn myself out at parties, ice rinks, and museums. That there is dangerously little elixer in the bottom of my cup becomes more obvious every time I throw another birthday party. They are beginning to throw me.

Almost all my friends see a masseuse or a chiropractor for body work, many with fewer resources than my own. And yet I can't even bring myself to get a professional haircut - way too easy to chop it off myself, and I don't need to spend the money on me. I don't need a pedicure when I can paint my own toes. I don't need a yoga class when I can stretch in my own bedroom. And I don't have the time to stop in a café to just watch the world, as I once loved to do. I am a busy lady.

It has taken years of self-talk about all that can be lost in this approach, of the likelihood of using it all up in the maze of the needs of others, but I may have finally turned into the corridor where I can clearly see myself at the other end. At the end near the exit.

I see myself using my gym as a spa, loving the steam bath, reserving the massage table. I see myself doing this regularly and happily, and if not without fail, then often enough to call it habit. I see myself stretching my old bones apart as part of my nighty-night routine, and I see that routine happening earlier and the following sleep becoming longer. I see myself eating enough less to lighten the load all that arthritis in my foot is carrying. (I see myself LOVING that as I put on a tight sweater.)

Because I have found the right metaphor for us, the enablers. All those symbols and aphorisms and illustrations that have gone before have not meant enough, but this one does.  You cannot pour from an empty cup. 

And now, I am all about learning to refill.

Friday, August 12, 2016

This Takes the Cake!

Last year I opened Belledame Publishing, Inc. ( to proliferate books and cards that pay homage to people with challenges, particularly third stage women like me. This company is a one-woman operation, built on a lifetime of art and ideas I stashed in closets both physical and metaphorical for the last fifty years. So far I have published two books: one philosophy called The Bridge: Using Symbols to Build Your Life and a colorbook titled Dragons for Dames. Soon I will have a set of dragon greeting cards available to color as well, and the process of constructing those has made me ponder what other kinds of greeting cards I want to make. Congratulations on getting out of the hospital? Retire while you still can? Certainly, birthdays become increasingly important even as their messages becomes more unwieldy. Still here? YET another year?

I could use a whole lot of birthday cakes, rows and rows of them for cover front and back. And, since I bake a personalized cake every time a family member clicks off another year, and more for friends, I am sure I have digital pictures for the last ten years at least and prints I could dig out for all the years before that. I began to wonder just how many cakes I have baked in my life. Could I even fit them all onto one card? Would I want to? How tiny would they have to print?

There are eight of us now - that is seven birthday cakes (I don't have to bake my own) for the last ten years (since young Gabriel was born) equals seventy cakes. I did miss a couple, people out of town and such, but this has been very consistent, so let's say sixty-five. And I have made friend cakes at least twice a year for those ten years, for another twenty. That's eighty-five. The two years before Gabe, there were seven of us, so six cakes for two years equals another twelve to add up to a ninety-seven since Emma was born, plus a few for friends, say one hundred.  For two years before Emma, we were six, so five each year is another ten to add up to a hundred-and-ten plus a couple friends, say one-hundred-and-twelve. Before my own two kids were married, life was more scattered and inconsistent, one of them on the west coast for five years, so let's say I only baked thirteen during those maybe eight years: one-hundred-and-twenty-five. I am not going to try to count when they were home and growing up because who can remember, but I know sometimes I bought for a crowd of kids, sometimes I baked. I will just call that Plus.

Damn. I have baked and decorated one-hundred-and-twenty-five-Plus birthday cakes, probably like a whole lot of other belledames with family. I will find as many pictures as I can and crowd them front and back on the most personal birthday card I could ever devise, a lifetime of party-making from me to you. Happy Birthday, Ladies:)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Kill the pig! Drink its blood!

"Maybe, maybe there is a beast. But maybe it is only us."
                                William Golding

I have to tell you, the Trump campaign has made me dream about Lord of the Flies. Golding's horrific 1954 allegory about children abandoned on an island, left to their own devices to develop a society, was required reading when I was a student. I think maybe that is no longer the case, or someone might have already noticed. . .

The group of English boys'-school youngsters are a cross-section of personalities, and at first they try to organize themselves according to the rules and procedures that they already understand. They have to find shelter and food and a mode of organizing their decisions, as must we all. But more disruptive personalities, usurped and directed by the most aggressive boy, Jack, make this difficult; and when a "beast" is discovered in the forest that scares the bejeezus out of all of them, the group quickly devolves along power lines, the strong bullying the weak, and almost all of them find their primitive ancestry, the human condition, in short shrift.

Golding's point is that without a civilizing influence, without some good intentions and common goals, human beings will revert to savagery under the tutelage of an aggressive and consciousless leader. The boys take to smearing their bodies with "war" charcoal and sharpening spears. They band together in fear of the unknown beast in the forest, and they psych their weapon-carrying selves into a salivating, pulsing, blood-lusting mob around the fire and drums of ritual.

Sound familiar?

The movie appeared in 1990. I saw it in the theater and found it extremely affecting. The thing is, there is a deus ex machina that about stops your heart, and at the time I thought I would never want to watch it again. But maybe now I will, just for that. Just because I know there is a resolution. Just because it is only a story, and I could us a little escapism.