It’s Not Polite to Stare

Yesterday as I drove down a residential city street, a man in a white pick up truck pulled out of his parking place headed in my direction. I noticed that instead of looking out of his windshield, as is suggested and preferable, he was intently peering out of his passenger side window at something on the sidewalk. As a result of his wayward stare his oversized truck was headed down the middle of the street-straight toward me.

 

“What are you looking at?” I yelled as I looked to the sidewalk. The answer. A sweet young girl walking down the sidewalk in her summer skirt and t-shirt. “Really?” I impotently yelled through closed windows, “You are old enough to be her dad-first of all, you are going run into me or another parked car-second of all, and have a little respect-third of all.” (Is there a third of all?)

 

This morning on my way to work while I waited at a stop light, another man in a pick up truck-what is it with men and pick ups-had his head stuck out of his window to ogle a girl walking past. When he couldn’t twist his neck any further he used his rear view mirror to lock on. I began yelling again, this time hoping to catch his eye letting him know I saw him being a lech.

I get the attraction. I look at men and women too. I am attracted for many reasons. I think they are beautiful. I like their outfit. I don’t like their outfit. I like their dog. There are many reasons to look at one another.  But when guys are looking only at boobs and butts, as if the woman is on the side walk is there for their pleasure, it is time to teach them some manners. I wanted to slap their faces.

 

When my daughter, Jena, turned 21 we took her out to celebrate. My son’s fiance was singing at a local club so it was a perfect celebration. As we sipped our drinks, Jena her first legal one, I perused the room. My eyes caught a 50-60 something year old man, slight build, polyester suit, talking with many different women. I noticed when the woman turned her back his eyes went straight to her rear end. When she turned back toward him it was her boobs he zeroed in on. I felt a hot flash coming on.

 

Then, to my surprise, he was next to me and walked right up to Jena. He stood way too close to her and said, “Don’t you look sparkly tonight.”

 

I couldn’t help myself. My body moved into action before my brain was even consulted. I put my body between Jena and this lounge lizard. After his gaze left my breasts to meet my eyes, I squared off with him, “I am her mother. You need to back off!”

 

“Oh mama bear. I was just telling her she is sparkly,” he said, his reptilian tongue striking the air between us. “Back off,” I growled, puffing myself up to stand a good bit taller than him.

 

He walked away.

 

The kids were amazed, both that I intimidated him to leave and that what he did bothered me. Perhaps you have to be in your 50’s and menopausal (make my day) to be intolerant of one more man’s bad manners. Maybe you have to be a mom of a young woman to feel the fury that moved my body between them. Regardless, Jena gave me a hug and thanked me. She got it..it’s impolite to stare. I had her back.

 

 

The story doesn’t end here…this creep circled back. He wound his way around the bar to where we stood. He stopped in front of my husband. “You have one uptight wife,” he pronounced.

 

Tom held his gaze, man to slime ball and like waving a fly away from your food said “Go away.”

 

He did.

Mother Daughter Tattoos

Soon after her 18th birthday Jena called me announcing she wanted to get a tattoo. “Oh,” I responded, wondering where I had gone wrong, “Really?”

 

“Yeah” she said, “and I want you to get one with me.”

 

To understand the absurdity of this request you must understand just how much I HATE NEEDLES! I delivered both of my kids naturally, not as a political statement or as an “all natural earth mother,” but because the idea of a needle in my spine was worse to me than any labor pain I might endure.

 

“Mom, are you still there?”

 

“I’m here.” I eked out.

 

Jena went on to describe the tattoos she wanted branded into our flesh. When she was young I would tell her, “I love you to the moon and back.” A sweet nothing for just us. We continue to write, text and say it to each other still.

 

So what does this have to do with our tattoos? Everything.

 

Jena endearingly presented her idea, “Mom, I want us to get I love you to the moon and back. I will write it on you and you can write it on me. Then we have it forever in each others handwriting.”

 

She had me by the heart strings. How could I say no? What a very sweet request. So sweet it melted my fear. I agreed.

 

 

After we hung up I began my research on safe tattooing practices and the most painless part of the body to get inked. I discovered meaty body parts hurt the least. Inside of arms, ankles, tops of feet, or anywhere directly on bone is agony. So I asked myself, “Where am I the meatiest?” (Since beginning menopause I have many more meaty areas to choose from. This was the only time I have been thankful for that.) I also needed to combine meaty with private-this tattoo was not to be for others enjoyment or amusement. After much research and consideration I decided on my upper butt/hip. Right side.

 

The day of the appointment we arrived at the carefully chosen parlor. I was so obviously out of place in my summer skirt and top, panic in my eyes. I felt like Pollyanna in a biker bar. As we waited, sitting with heavily tatted repeat customers, the advise began, “Don’t get it too small, it will look shriveled in a few years. Don’t put it where you might stretch because it will distort. Don’t get red or pink ink because it fades (sounds good to me) and it can cause allergic reactions.”

 

I am headed for the door. “Really? Are they serious? How big is not too small- cuz I was thinking tiny. Where on my body might I not spread or sag in the next 10 years? And, okay, I won’t get red ink-as if that was on my color palette.” Jena calls me back and I sit down.

 

 

Our names are finally called. We head down a spiral staircase into what looks, feels and smells like someones damp basement. We are introduced to our artist, an early 20 something year old man/child. He shows us to his part of the basement. I go first.

 

He “invites” me to the “tattoo chair.” Because of where I want my “art” he directs me to get into the chair face first, resting my torso on the back of the chair, that he lowers, allowing my ass to rise into the air for easy access. Seriously. You get the picture. I threw Jena one of those you are in big trouble mom looks.

 

There I was, for what felt like forever, my ass in the air with a cute young man’s face dangerously close to my butt. What does one talk about in moments like these? I know how to make small talk with my manicurist, my hair stylist, even my gynecologist, but I was out of my comfort zone. Literally and figuratively. It hurt…a lot. I kept asking him what letter was he on.

 

So, in the end (no pun intended) Jena and I have our mother-daughter hand written body art axiom. It will be with us forever and ever. When I catch sight of mine in the bathroom mirror I always smile, feeling warm and loved. Unless I notice the O in love is a little wide. Then I I skip breakfast.

Random Acts of Kindness

Anyone that lives in Pittsburgh knows that going for a walk involves hills. It is the good news and the bad. I love that I have a treadmill right outside my door and hate that there is no such thing as a leisurely walk that doesn’t involve sweating.

 

So it was this morning. The spring weather has me ditching the gym and heading out over the hilly terrain of Pittsburgh to get my heart rate up and, hopefully soon, my butt in a favorite pair of summer slacks. On my last leg of my route is a very steep hill. As I looked up from the bottom, I prepared myself mentally and physically for the climb. I found a favorite song on my ipad, jacked up the volume, dropped my focus into my hips, made sure my feet were fully meeting the sidewalk, took a deep breath and started up the hill. Whew, half way up I decided there was no shame in stopping against a railing to rest. As I rested I noticed the neighborhood, smelled a cigar-couldn’t find the culprit-and noticed two cars drive past me going down the hill.

 

I started the second stretch. I was tired and not sure I wanted to, or could, do it. I remembered going into labor with Jena, my second child. When I got into the full throes of labor I said (well shouted) to my husband, “I changed my mind, I don’t want to do this.” I fully expected him to say okay and we would go home. We didn’t.

 

The also remembered was when I was leaving my marriage. I would go to the gym and run (I am not a runner) on the treadmill. I would think I was going to die. I would tell myself that if I could survive 5 more minutes of running than I wouldn’t die leaving my marriage. I ran those 5 minutes. I didn’t die. I felt more confident, so I ran 5 more telling myself, “If I can run 5 more minutes without dying…” I ran 30 minutes this way and successfully ended my marriage.

 

So it was with me and this hill. If I could do this hill I could survive anything. And, since every alternative route home also involved a steep incline, there was no backing out. Halfway up the second stretch a women in a Honda CRV pulled up next to me and rolled down her window. I wasn’t sure I could talk to give her the directions she must be stopping to ask me. Then it occurred to me, wasn’t she one of the cars that just passed me? I stopped walking and looked in through the open window.

 

“Do you need a ride?” she asked with concern.

 

I instantly had a visual of how tragic I must have looked plodding up this incline and felt ashamed. Gratefully, as quickly as my shame reared its disabling head, it was replaced by how touched I felt by her kindness. She had turned around to check on me.

 

“Bless your heart,” I said between gulps of air, “but I am going to do this!”

 

“You go girl!” she responded.

 

I did. I conquered that hill, with her encouragement and kindness inspiring me all the way.

 

Encouragement and kindness. I think that is all we need.

 

Thank you, woman in the CRV.

SHUT UP…REALLY

I started a 21 day meditation challenge offered free by the Chopra Center.

Today’s meditation was on stress. It is day 4.

The meditation teacher, a soft spoken woman, asks, “Are you feeling a sense of worry, agitation, or frustration? (Now that you mention it, I am.) Release those feelings, thoughts, and sensations. (Okay, how?) Let them float away, easily and effortlessly.(Come again?).” She then invited me to sit in my silence created by my ability to let my stress go easily and effortlessly.

“Really?”

“If I could do that, easily and effortlessly, I wouldn’t be listening to this meditation.” I sat in silent judgment, irritation and frustration with this woman and the meditation. I tightened my butt and thighs, squared my jaw, and trapped my breath in my chest.

“Was she serious? This is not helpful at all. At least give me some ideas how to let my stress fucking float away!”

“Really?”

As I noticed my outrage, I felt it in every part of me and I immediately felt tired. I felt tired of me. Tired of my rant, of my indignation, I ran out of steam and just shut up.

When I shut up, I found my silence. I began to relax my butt, my jaw, and take a deeper breath.

A lesson well learned.

 

More From the Couch

(I AM SENDING THIS AGAIN…BECAUSE MY OTHER OPPS DOESN’T LINK YOU TO THE POST…TECHNOLOGY AND I ARE WORKING HARD AT GETTING ALONG)

 

Many of you may remember I started this blog with the story of my couch. Did I deserve it or did I want it? My couch.

 

I am very sorry to report I have been unhappy with my couch since I got it a year and a half ago. The problem? It was the most uncomfortable couch I had ever sat on. Well, no, I take that back, I remember sitting on couches at fraternity parties that were equally as uncomfortable. When I sat on my coveted new couch my butt sunk 6 inches below my knees. It was like I was sitting in a hole. I had to hoist myself off the couch (no pun intended-but it is a good one) by rocking back and forth to gain momentum and then heave my butt forward on the up swing to get out. Not only did I feel ridiculous, it was embarrassing. I was so disappointed in my new couch. 

 

I tried very hard to like my expensive, beautiful couch. I assumed, as I often do “It must be me.” Continue reading

And We All Fall Down

I try not to, but still do. In Mexico, this fall (no pun intended), I missed a step down walking into a courtyard. I did my best to catch myself, hopping on one foot, while forward momentum propelled me into the legs of an unsuspecting Mexican man. He did his best to catch me while saving himself from being knocked over. I did my best to right myself to save what little pride I still had. “Perdon,” I gasped leaning against his legs.

 

This past December, for my 54th birthday, I was given The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo by 2 different friends. (I pay attention when the same gift comes from multiple people. I assume I must need it.) It is a daily meditation book. I highly recommend it.

 

Yesterday, adhering to my new spiritual practice/new years resolution, I read the entry for the day. It was about letting go so we don’t fall down. The line I was drawn to was, “…in a moment of ego we refuse to put down what we carry in order to open the door.” The author was referring to a friend of his who refused to put down two opened gallons of paint, drop cloths, mixing sticks, and paint brush to open a door. As a result he lost his balance and fell. You can imagine the mess. It was red paint. Continue reading

BUTT

I have been mad at my body lately. Maybe most of my life. I was too tall as a girl in the 60’s-so I slouched. My mom would instruct me to, “Stand up straight” then she’d exclaim, “You’re soooo tall.” Relatives would ask her what she fed me.

 

My mom was 5’2. I was 5’10” in middle school. After 20 years of marriage at age 42 I put on a pair of high heels. My husband said, “Oh, now I know why you don’t wear heels, you are really tall.” I didn’t put another pair on until we separated several years later.

 

I was also called “fatty Patti” by my brother and neighborhood kids. My mom countered with, “NO YOU ARE NOT!”, then refused my request for a piece of her freshly baked chocolate cake she. (My friends now call me Patricia, it doesn’t rhythm with fatty.) Continue reading

Fat Free Relationships

I don’t like fat free food. I don’t like low fat food either. I don’t eat it anymore. I used to, believing it was good for me, but I was always hungry. Hunger and I do not get along. I avoid it at all costs. I always know where my next meal is coming from. I decided being hungry and miserable was a greater health risk than eating fat. I threw out the I can’t believe it’s not butter-I could- and returned to It is butter, really.

 

I can tell, on first sip, when my latte is mistakenly made with low fat milk. I use half and half in my coffee at home. There is nothing “light” in my frig.  I would rather not eat ice cream than eat it with all the natural fat sucked out.

 

To justify my rich taste, I read the Fat Fallacy by Will Cower. I remembered my two week trip to France. The French eat whole everything!  They are not overweight and do not have as high an incidence of heart disease as we do. I ate more bread with butter, cheese, cream, ham, pastry and wine while there than I do in two months in Pittsburgh. Surprisingly, I lost weight. I could argue I walked a lot. That being true and significant, the Fat Fallacy suggests we need fat to maintain a good weight. I choose to be a discipline of this belief-we all pick what beliefs we live by.

 

I have the same preference when it comes to my relationships. Continue reading