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A Hair-Raising Situation

It’s that time again—every five weeks I count down to it. There’s the research; a mountain of information that I gather, cross-reference, and compare. I stew. I worry. I wonder about the steps to take and what all the outcomes will be. The dread seeps in through dreams, and the anxiety of it comes while I work.

On the day of I’m a wreck. Never do I know what I’m going to do. Never have I solved my dilemma. All the components about myself have been evaluated and scrutinized from my personality, my coloring, my likes and dislikes, what I’m willing to live with and what I’m not. And always, I calculate my age.

It’s not an end of the world situation I’m struggling with, it’s far, far, worse. It’s time to get my hair done. There are only two things crueler—getting weighed in public and trying on swimsuits—which I do neither if I can avoid it. But this is hair I’m talking about!

Hair is the first thing people note about you unless you’re unusually tall or unusually short. It’s a beacon of your tastes and style. It represents how you feel and think of yourself and then shouts that out to the entire world. If you make a mistake, the world knows about it instantly, and it takes six months for your hair to grow out and for the error to be covered up.

I guess my biggest problem is that I have a glitch in my persona. In high school, people assumed I was a top-40 kind of girl based on how I looked. In reality I was big into Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails—still am. I’m generally conservative but with a white-hot streak of rebellion underneath. Sometimes that streak is the width of a single strand of hair. Sometimes that streak is a bolt—wide and raging.

Part of my conservatism is the constant processing of data—the input vs. the output. I fight the duality of wanting to blend in and belong while at the same time screaming to stand out. At the same time, the rebellion part of me is usually provoked by boredom.

However, there may be a silver lining in my hair quandary. For the last few years, I’ve started losing my hair. I worry about going bald. My husband can’t understand what the big deal is—so you’re losing your hair—(add shrug here). He can say that. The man is a cue ball by choice! He Bic’s his head and grows a beard, and he’s gorgeous!

At 6’3” Bry is tall and athletic—his legs look like two pythons digesting rabbits—he embodies the persona of a stylish intellectual, which could mean either he’s a successful businessman or a Russian bad guy from the Jason Bourne series.

But for me as a woman, hair is steeped in a long history of beauty and youth. If I went bald, I doubt I’d look like the 1990’s version of Sinead O’Connor or Charlize Theron from Mad Max: Fury Road. I’m sure with a baldhead I’d look like I had a life-threatening disease. Or with my luck, my head is misshapen, and I’ll look like a short, female version of Sloth from the movie The Goonies.

Every time the countdown is up and I have to decide what to do with my hair both my boys—my husband and son—think I should do something wild like go platinum gray or Barbie-doll pink.

I’m too old to go pink. I don’t want to look like a soccer mom who dreams of being an exotic dancer.

As for going gray, I’m doing that naturally and hate it. Plus I’m at the intersection of old-town already. I won’t look sassy and hip I’ll look like Helen Mirren without the highbrow sophistication—maybe at the most, I’d look like a version of her down on her luck.

I hate that all this hair stuff is a problem at all. It’s ridiculous! Who cares?! I wish I didn’t. I want to be one of those natural beauties that look fabulous in every light and every situation—in fact, I’m related to several of those.

I wish I were okay with growing older with grace. Instead, I fight it. I buck, bite and spit in the face of father time—only he doesn’t notice I’m even there and I’m the one left with all the scars!

 

 

School Zone Antics

 

School Zone Pic
Photo from http://www.shutterstock.com

Before my daughter inherited my husband’s car, my husband or I would drive her to high school and drop her off. We hated doing it. The people who designed Herriman High School’s parking lot and loading zones are people who share the same ideology of those who came up with medieval torture devices.

A terrifying aspect of dropping Lorrin off was that we would have to turn left. We would have to turn left on a two-lane road that fifteen minutes before school started and fifteen minutes after it ended would swell like an angry river. To understand why it was harrowing, one must know the makeup of the loading zones.

At the front of Herriman High School is a one-way loading zone that starts on the main road and travels in a crescent shape moving east, then north, and ending up west. The cars are spit back onto the main road and have to turn right into a torrent of traffic.

A second loading zone follows a path running along the side of the school where the student parking lot is also located. Those who drop kids off on the side must use the same main road and try to turn left at the same time the front-of-school drop-offers, as well as students needing to get to their parking lot, are trying to turn right. Chaos!

My experience in turning left comprised of flinging my automobile into oncoming traffic; white-knuckling the steering wheel, eyes squeezed shut and breath held. I’d jam on the accelerator and hoped to make it through unscathed. When driving Lorrin, I don’t recall a single fender-bender. However, I do remember honking horns, cussing, and middle fingers flipping left and right.

Once my daughter got a car, relief spread through the family, at least between her father and I—we no longer had to navigate the maze of irrationality! We didn’t have to play dodge-car anymore!

That was a few years ago, and now we are back to driving my son to Herriman High School and dropping him off. I noticed right away a difference in the experience. There was a calmness that settled over the situation. No, the parking lot and loading zones haven’t been changed to make sense. No, the traffic hasn’t been reduced, in fact, I’m sure it has doubled or tripled. The most significant difference is the drivers.

Every morning as I sit in the suicide lane, I’m surprised at the level of manners demonstrated by teenaged drivers.   Traffic turning right off the main road to get to student parking will go into the never-used bike lane and then, one by one, every other car, will let someone turning left go in front of them. They take turns!

It’s evident that a great shift has happened in my morning routine and it has affected everyone else as well. The drop off zone is now a smooth experience. No more screaming obscenities at the driver in front of you—that guy you know is just trying to pick at your last nerve on purpose. No more breaking out in a sweat knowing that any minute an oversized SUV will pummel into the side of your vehicle. This is made possible all because some teenager had the state of mind to let someone butt in line.

Teenagers get a bad rap, a lot. They’re accused of being mobile device-deviants and gadget-junkies with zero attention span and yet, the only people who seem to aggressively cut the line, almost plowing into all surrounding cars, are adults talking on their cell phones. It’s not the kids. They are organized. They are patient. They are courteous. They make the morning commute tolerable. They are the ones who make me want to be a better person—at least behind the wheel.

So thanks to that over-classified generation (aka Gen Z’s, iGeneration, Founders, Plurals, etc.) following the Millennials! You guys might be the key to salvation after all—at least between 7:10-7:25 am and again at 2:10-2:25 pm. Your efforts are noticed and well appreciated!

 

 

 

 

 

Ignorance is Bliss

IMG_4596
One of my various scribbles in a notebook.

A few years ago I took a class called Natural Disasters, and no, it wasn’t a self-help course in case you were wondering.The intention of the class was to understand how natural disasters occur. It was an interesting experience if not extremely harrowing. We learned that if on a beach say near America Soma, and the ocean suddenly retreats, run! We were advised not to build a house along the California coast because you are basically building a house on quicksand.

The class learned about spotting landslides, old and reoccurring. We came to understand that every jagged peak along the Wasatch Mountains is a diagram of potential disasters. We learned that cracks in the sidewalk could mean more harm than the superstition of breaking a mother’s back if stepping on one.

During the course, we were told about every region’s disaster, however, very little information as to what to do about it.

I’m a doodler—it’s a concentration practice as well as a stress reliever. While I’m listening to someone speak, I draw landscapes in ballpoint pen to help me focus on what they’re saying. I did this well before taking this Natural Disasters class, but by the end of it, sketching was no longer a reprieve from my anxiety. Now, instead of gentle mountain slopes, I saw erosion. Instead of rolling hills, I noted fault lines.

I tried sketching just grasses and trees growing out of the sturdy dirt but then thought, what’s the point? Flood or liquefaction will just suck them underground.

It was good for me to take the class and to understand the environment in which I live. However, the beauty of the landscape changed to nothing but death traps.

At the end of the course my, teacher asked what each of us learned after taking the class. No one said anything. After a long stretch of uncomfortable silence, I raised my hand and said, “We learned that it doesn’t matter where you live, Mother Nature is going to get you.” He didn’t think it was funny, and really, neither did I.

Although I’m more knowledgeable about natural occurrences, this information now plagues me. The beauty that once held stress reduction, now only induces it, making me think that sometimes, maybe ignorance is bliss? If it’s not, don’t tell me, I really don’t want to know!

 

 

On Halloween Eve

IMG_4557Today is Halloween, and it’s cold, though the sun is out. Yellow oak leaves hang in bunches outside my window.

I have shiny black bats fashioned out of trash bags taped to the exterior of my house and have gone on another trip to the store to stock up on candy for trick or treaters that might stop by later.

I used to love Halloween—there was an excitement unlike any other, except maybe Christmas.

I loved the weeks of planning costumes, the Elementary school Halloween parades and end of day class parties with macabre themed desserts and pin-the-head-on-the-mummy games.

I remember when I was young going trick or treating with my siblings. We’d always start out together, the older siblings escorting us younger ones, per our parents, expressed rules, who then ditched us as soon as we got out of sight of our house.

My older brothers would travel far and wide with pillowcases instead of the small plastic pumpkin buckets. They would make the rounds, return home, change into secondary costumes and head back out for more—and maybe they only did this once, but it was smart and clever enough I’ve tricked my memory into thinking it happened a lot.

Halloween was the one night a year where every child of every age was released into the Suburbian wild and allowed to dress like someone else and beg for candy. Cars would park outside neighborhoods. Kids moved in swarms, trading secrets with fellow travelers over which houses to go to and which ones to skip—I received two toothbrushes one year before I got wise.

On our journey, we’d swap notes of the houses where rich people lived the ones who gave out full-sized candy bars. I would plan on getting there sometime, maybe that night, perhaps the next year, because usually, the rich people lived so far away. It was exactly one time I made it far enough to get one of those full-sized candy bars—a Hershey’s bar—candy never tasted so good.

I remember long stretches of frozen fingers and toes while treading up steep hills filled with endless Gypsy’s and pink Princesses, and Cowboys and masked monsters or He-man’s lining the sidewalks. I remember the threat of older boys making rounds, stealing from the younger, the weaker of the flock—though I never came across any. We would roam from house to house, cross street after street and stay out past the time when the streetlights first turned on. On Halloween eve, the only curfew depended on when houses ran out of candy or on tiredness, and there was plenty of fuel to replenish us as we went. I would try to eat as much candy as I could before getting home—not because I would be limited once clearing the threshold, but rather for the principal of the night.

Halloween was amazing once, and it is now, but not in the same way. Still, I wouldn’t trade those memories for a million full-sized candy bars, nor would I swap them for the memories I have of this night and spending it with my own kids!

Will Work For Food

oreos pictureI’ve recently joined Total Health and Fitness (T.H.&F.), a program that infuses nutrition and exercise tailor-made for its individuals. It’s hard. For one thing, I had to get on a scale and see what it said. Usually, during such evasive events, say at a doctor’s office, I keep my back to the screen when I step on the scale. It’s a way for me to continue wading in denial. It used to be I’d measure my size by how my clothes fit, but I’m finding I’m running out of clothes because I’ve stopped wearing anything without Spandex on its label.

My torture continued at T.H. & F. when I had to get a picture taken of all sides of my body; front, back, left side and right side wearing said Spandex, a sports bra, and humiliation. I was then guided moment by grueling moment where every morsel of food I had to start eating was laid out and written in portion controlled sizes and brownies weren’t anywhere on the list! I understand I’m not fat, not yet, though I’m on the Candyland Express heading there. I’ve fallen off the wagon and into the ice cream truck, and I’m hoping I can figure a way out.

Knowing what I’m up against—food deprivation, workouts requiring dumbbells and tension bands and giving up eating whatever I want—I’ve started wondering, what’s wrong with being obese anyway?

Look at all the societal ills obesity can solve. Instead of spending $120.00 and up for fifty-minutes worth of therapy, why not buy a bag of Double Stuffed Oreos that cost around three bucks? Plus, it saves time–no more making therapy appointments six weeks in advance. Opening a bag, dunking a black and white delight in a glass of milk and watching it transform from hard to something soft and digestible is instantaneous. It makes you happy, now.

When it comes to that tingle that new love brings, it’d be easier to buy a box of Godiva chocolates rather than having to spend time with some pesky individual, getting to know them. Also, every time you bite into a triple chocolate truffle, you’re engaged in the feeling of new love every single time—no more having a cooling off period–no more describing your relationship as a deep friendship. And, if you don’t want to buy the expensive chocolates because you’re not interested in a relationship and are just looking to satisfy lust, chocolate chips from the cupboard work just as well.

Food can work wonders for public education, too. A big problem among educators is the number of kids with attention deficit issues who are compelled to move around rather than focus. Why medicate these kids when we can simply feed them more?

We can weigh food options depending on how much of a problem a kid is causing. For example, Jim might be easily distracted but can focus for stretches of time when he’s not getting out of his seat. In this case, Jim gets a donut. Bill, on the other hand, gets out of his chair regularly, talks incessantly, interrupts the class always and starts the occasional fire. Solution? Two words—Food Coma.

The point isn’t using food as a reward for disruptive behavior it’s to use treats to make students immobile, forcing them to do nothing but sit there. They’ll get bored and start paying attention through osmoses learning!

What about the environment? How can obesity help the situation? My argument is a short one; being less active means, you’re less likely to go anywhere which leads to less traffic. Less traffic means less pollution—Bam! Solution possible!

I know, I know, what about the health risks associated with obesity? What about a shortened lifespan? Well, according to the New York Times, since 1950, Americans are twenty-six pounds heavier but are living ten years longer.

If you’re still not convinced, I say, let’s discuss this over a plate of Nachos. You’ll be surprised how it’ll change your mind. Until then, I have to go. I have an appointment to figure out how to suspend myself from a TRX band hung from the ceiling, and I have to stuff myself into a pair of Spandex first.

 

Don’t Call Me Crazy!

zoeparascopeMy dog, Zoey, hates when I close the door to my office. She doesn’t get that that door is the difference between me being productive and me getting caught up in something else—like dishes or television.

At a closed door, Zoey will scratch on the other side and reduce her muzzle to fit under the half-inch door crack and aggressively sniff. If I don’t open the door, she throws her body against it a few times and then whines. When I finally get up and open it, Zoey peers inside and walks away—she doesn’t want to come in. She wants to make sure I haven’t ditched her, jumped in my car and headed out to eat at every fast food chain—I’m sure this is her assumption of what I do when I leave—that’s because Zoey is crazy.

The other day I left my dog and went to a doctor’s appointment to get a prescription refill and came out with yet another medication. I’m on quite a few drugs that range from battling hypothyroidism, stabilizing hormone levels, and for depression. It has been my goal to reduce my med intake but without success. Every pill I take is a have-to, not just to stabilize my mood, but also to keep my body functioning. What bothers me is when a health care provider categorizes depression as having a Mental Illness (capital M, capital I).

People are uncomfortable with anything that uses the words Mental and Illness. No one wants to talk about it, not even me. I had a friend once explain it like this: when someone has cancer, everyone within a twenty-mile radius stops what he or she is doing to help. They want to be involved because they understand what the disease is. When it comes to depression, everyone disappears. Do you blame them?

See, depression is uncomfortable because it’s associated with unpleasant things and not triumphs. There are no pink t-shirts or 5K races to enlighten people about mood disorders—my husband will run anywhere and wear pink if it’s to save a pair of breasts—I think many people would. No one with depression calls up a friend and says, “Hey, I had a terrible day, and I didn’t kill myself. Let’s celebrate!” And no friend of the depressed is going to celebrate knowing that today’s bad day didn’t end with funeral arrangements because that’s weird. Instead, like a dog with a bone, the depression goes underground, dragging the person who has it with it. Outside of a few people (and usually it’s done from a therapist’s couch), no one talks about it.

So, here’s my equivalent to a pink shirt crusade, bare with me! Do you know you can be terribly sad and not try to off yourself? Also, there are a lot of reasons that cause depression other than childhood traumas, abuses, and or self-pity (this last one is controversial but it’s one many people assume is the root cause of depression!)

Take me for example, I’ve dealt with many from the above list at one time or another throughout my forty-two years, but my depression, today, is caused by the fact that I had a full hysterectomy when I was twenty-three years old. The removal of my uterus and fallopian tubes made me hormonally, mentally, and physically depressed. So why on earth would I then be categorized as having Mental Illness? I’m not sick! I’m not scheming ways in which to murder anyone (well, I am, but that’s because I’m also a fiction writer, so that’s okay). It’s because of the big D-word, Depression.

My sister-in-law recently turned me on to a new term that I took to my doctor: Brain Health instead of Mental Illness. Whenever Mental Illness is brought up people stop listening, because it means you’re done—fit ‘em with a straight jacket, place ‘em in a padded cell in front of eleven hours of Sesame Street programming and throw away the key.

Brain Health, on the other hand, elicits a totally different attitude one with infinite possibilities and avenues of help and benefit. Brain Health is associated with healthy living and not crazy pants.

There are many reasons I don’t like taking pills. However, the benefits outweigh the bad. I love that I feel fine on most days. I like that I can get out of bed and be productive even at the expense of my pet, which I assume has Doggie Dementia, and who is sniffing under the door this very minute as I write. All of these are great reasons! So what’s so crazy about that?

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time: Book Bite Review

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime book coverGet your appetite ready for a Main Course! In Mark Haddon’s 2003 debut novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Christopher Boone is a fifteen-year-old boy whom may or may not have autism. Though the diagnosis of his condition isn’t confirmed in the story, it is stated on some book covers, but not all, and is strongly opposed by the autism community. However, Christopher himself claims to be a “mathematician with behavior problems.”

The story begins with Christopher discovering a neighbor’s dead dog named Wellington with a gardening fork coming out of him. This launches Christopher into trying to solve Wellington’s murder and writing a book about it. Through the course of his investigation, family secrets are unearthed, and Christopher’s mental and physical abilities are severely challenged.

I liked this book because it’s different; it had a fresh perspective, an interesting narrator, and uncommon characters. An example of it being different is, the story is told from Christopher’s point of view and as such is put into chapters, not chronologically, but by prime numbers.

Haddon brings the reader into a world most have never seen or experienced before with emotional twists worthy of a truly well-written Mystery novel. The book is funny and shocking, triumphant as well as tender and is two hundred and twenty-six pages long.