Archive for May, 2011
When we are very young, we look forward to being older. Once we’re grown, it loses some appeal. There isn’t much I miss about being a kid. I’m glad I conquered my fear of boy-cooties, and glad my mother doesn’t dress me anymore, but except for being able to eat cookies without thinking about calories, or being forced to take a daily nap, the only thing I really miss is the do-over.
A miss at jump rope, a ball bouncing through the hopscotch, or a bee interfering in a game of jacks, could all be fixed with a do-over. The do-over granted another chance, one which would hopefully have a better outcome. Grown-up life would be almost as carefree as childhood, if everything we did, came with a do-over.
Our lives are full of choices, actions and decisions. Some are the result of careful consideration, others happen without reason. Unfortunately, no matter how things happen, there are times when a do-over would be helpful. Imagine having a do-over for financial matters like your 401K or credit card debt. Being given a chance to erase mistakes, would eliminate the need for condoms, divorce lawyers and auto-insurance. It would largely keep our closets skeleton-free.
Starting life over after a divorce, relocating to a different city, going back to school because you want something different, even rehab can all be a do-overs, but unlike those of the playground, they don’t erase the past. Unfortunately, even with a do-over, there is always the possibility of a worse outcome. It’s risky to bet on a better oucome, because it requires weighing our current known situation, against unknowns. The older we are, the more difficult it can be to consider starting over mid-life.
Leaving the past behind, takes tremendous courage. If you are faced with such a decision, you may even wonder if it’s possible to reinvent yourself. A person considering returning to school, may consider how old they will be when they finish, but getting older will happen whether or not we make changes. While, it might be scary to put our lives on hold to pursue something we want, it is sadder to resign ourselves to staying in a situation, because of the fear of failure.
We don’t always get it right. Sometimes we need a Mulligan. The second chance isn’t always better, but we never know unless we try. If we get it wrong, we can always hope we haven’t used all our do-overs.
India’s caste system–for most in the Western world, it’s incomprehensible to imagine our life’s destiny being determined before our birth, and reprehensible that the caste system assigns value to individuals regardless of character. I was surprised to learn, the idea behind the caste system is reminiscent of the Bible passage which states every person has a function, like the organs of the body. The function of the eye is not like that of the heart, but each is vital. The caste system is intended to help the function of society, but to me it is dehumanizing, detestable and primitive.
Yet, in our own society, we often employ, or are subject to, systems of social ranking. Just as in India, where castes are determined by birth, our destiny can be the result of where we were born or who we were born to. Our skin, our body, or our economic disadvantage can become a damaging label, out of our control. It is ridiculous to allow education, fame, career, appearance or economics determine status. Nevertheless, being being born in the wrong place or not being able to afford the same things as others, can leave one stranded on a lower rung of the social ladder.
It’s a caste system–unsophisticated and ugly.
I was thinking about this, because of something that happened to someone close to me.
There was a woman who was highly-esteemed by all who knew her. A beautiful and gracious socialite, active in her church and community, she was always invited by the ladies who do lunch and A-listed for cocktail soirees. Her company was always in demand.
Then, the phone stopped ringing.
There were no more engraved invitations.
The church ladies avoided eye contact.
Carpool moms made excuses for why they couldn’t drive her children.
Old friends became former friends.
People who knew her crossed the street, to avoid interacting.
She was out-caste.
It wasn’t anything she said or did. Everybody who knows her, would attest she’s the same beautiful, kind and generous person, she was before her social demotion. She was kicked out the inner circle of the beautiful people, when someone in her family was charged with a crime. She was punished for the actions of someone else.
It happens. Whether it be our children, siblings, or spouse; there are times when people near us do things which cause us to suffer emotionally, and sometimes socially. When a teen gets arrested for drugs, a spouse is charged with DUI, or a relative is implicated in a scandal, one may find themselves being treated as an accessory and punished as such.
It is unfortunate, but there may come a time, when like a modern-day Jesus, you find yourself paying for the deeds of someone else; being punished or judged wrongly because of things you didn’t do. No man is an island. It is natural to feel embarrassed when loved ones behave badly, but it is also important to remember who you are. You cannot be responsible for all the actions of everyone around you.
Just as importantly, we need to remember friends in these kinds of situations, need to know they have not become untouchable to their friends. We are individuals, we are not the people who surround us.
One of the significant differences between the sexes, is the tendency of women to focus on smaller things men don’t see. While men are making sense of the big picture, women are taking in the details.
For this reason, women often understand economics, better than men think we do. In fact, women are especially savvy in the realm of microeconomics. If you have any knowledge of economics, you probably know the difference between micro- and macroeconomics. Macro includes big things like the GNP, unemployment, and trade, while microeconomics deals with the factors which affect the individual consumer.
Even if we don’t know what to call it, our highly developed shopping prowess, allows us to sense economic trends. Men may need to read the financial section of the daily news to learn how The Dow is trending, but women need only go to the stores to get a read on the economy.
Because women are often in charge of provisioning a household with things like Oreos and stylish clothing, we are quick to detect economic trends. The first indicators are usually commodities–things like coffee, sugar, breakfast cereal [aka grain], and gasoline. When the paycheck isn’t going as far, women don’t need the Wall Street Journal to tell them the economy is hinky.
It is easy to tell at the beginning of a retail season, what retailers are feeling. When the economy is humming, retailers stock their shelves with eye-dazzling excess. During downtrends, seasonal goods have largely run out, or are greatly marked down before the end of the season, resulting in spectacular mid-season bargains.
As inflation deflates our buying-power, it is clear our economy isn’t at it’s best. Which means that once again the women’s magazines will be telling us how to stretch our grocery dollars, but there’s more to life than just food, and Nordstrom’s doesn’t have a double-coupon day. So, as we tighten our very fashionable belts and cross manicured fingers waiting for an upturn, I’ve come up with new ways to save.
We could all save more if we’d just stop spending on unnecessary things–like those which are wasted on men. For instance, think of what you could save on haircare costs, like color, cuts or styles. Whether you get your hair cut for $120. at a posh salon, or for $12. at Supercuts, it is probable the man in your life won’t notice it’s different.
Think of how much money we’d have, if we stopped buying expensive, but-oh-so-worth-it shoes, in favor of lesser-priced shoes from PayLess or WalMart. After all, when was the last time a heterosexual male, who didn’t have a foot-fetish, went ga-ga or even noticed the pair that cost you a significant pay-chunk?
Cosmetics and perfumes cost a fortune. Women would do well by foregoing the price of designer fragrances. You will never miss them, once you realize the smells of pizza and beer are just effective, for attracting men.
There is also the matter of underwear & lingerie. I’m not advocating for going without feel good/look good bras or panties, but the rest of the money spent on skimpy things is largely wasted. When it comes to lingerie, men are like dogs–mostly colorblind. They primarily see only red and black, though some may also respond to white. Any color they can’t readily name, is apt to confuse them. Details like real silk or French lace are also superfluous, as the only detail men appreciate in lingerie, is skin. Everything else is superfluous. The primary purpose of lingerie is to let him know we aren’t going to make him beg–unless, of course, he’s into that kind of thing.
Clearly we’d have more money in our designer handbags, if we’d stop spending money to make ourselves, yet more irresistible, but there’s a hitch. While we may groom & dress with our man in mind, the truth is we dress for ourselves. We spend money on all kinds of beautiful & spendy things, because they make us feel more desirable. It isn’t money wasted. When are more attractive, when we feel beautiful.
Except for the day when Larry Durbin and I shared a Charms Pop at the old Elks Theater, I had never exchanged spit with anyone. In fact, I had successfully managed to avoid being spit on, touching anything that had spit on it, and until that fateful day, all the spit in my mouth was entirely my own. Unknowing innocence, was erased when my first kiss caught me off-guard with a strange mix of delight & repulsion. Sweet Mother of Mouthwash, saliva had suddenly become esoteric and sublime.
Wistfully pondering the strange delight of the kiss, caused my mind to wander back through the kisses filed away in my memory. There were kisses I’d like to forget, kisses not worth remembering, and then there were those kisses which linger as sweetly on the heart, as they once did on the lips.
There is no kiss more memorable than that first awkward, blundering, kiss. The innocent joy of mouth meeting mouth, becomes hugely significant, as what will likely be one of the lesser kisses of our lifetime, becomes one of the greater memories. In that first unfamiliar experience, our senses are awakened to the first of many romantic pleasures.
I am reminded of a terminally-ill family member, who, as she considered the short time ahead, lamented how long it had been since she’d been “properly kissed”, but she was not referring to the proper kiss. She was not referring to that multi-purpose kiss which says, hello, goodbye, and thank you like the “aloha” of cordiality. For as any woman knows, being properly kissed, borders on the improper.
The kiss is intimacy’s most basic act, yet many fail to execute it well. A “kiss & tell” confession, is apt to state whether someone was a good or bad kisser, but who is the Simon Cowell of kissing? By what standards is this judged? This isn’t the kind of question that is answered by Wiki or Ask.com, and surely we wouldn’t all agree on what constitutes good technique. If you’re reading this, it is assumed you are past needing a tutorial on how to kiss, and also assumed you know kisses should be fresh and clean; but perhaps you have yet to realize the most important thing about a kiss is not the way it feels on the lips, but the way it leaves us feeling inside.
A kiss should be spontaneous. Not every kiss is executed with natural ease, but the best kisses are both expected and surprising. In the moments before a kiss, there is a certain pleasure in wondering if a kiss is coming. The unanswered question is usually answered with uncertainty, as one or both bring their faces closer. Sometimes words are spoken, permission is asked or desire stated, but the best kisses require no introduction.
Kisses should be given and received in a way that respects the other person. They should neither stifle, impair nor impose. Wet is good, but sloppy is not. Only after being kissed by large dogs or drooling babies, should one feel compelled to wash their face. The great kiss leaves us wanting more.
A kiss should be focused on the mouth, but not confined to it, employing caresses, as it explores the surrounding areas.
A perfect kiss is urgent but unhurried. It transcends time, causing us to forget about clocks in the moment, and leaving us to remember the moment, when it has passed.
When a man kisses a women he should be in command of her affection, but not attempting to control it. There should be no pretense in a kiss. Only a lesser individual will kiss without sincerity. Kisses should never exploit the affections of another.
The best kisses hint sweetly of what is to come, yet are sufficient by themselves. They are the intimacy of flesh on flesh, mouth-play, and sweet sensations suggestive of more.
A male friend offers his perspective on kissing. Though I have never kissed him, I would venture, he has kissed and been kissed often enough to speak authoritatively. Mae West said, “A man’s kiss is his signature.” Joel, who shares his thoughts here, seems to agree.
I remember the second girl I kissed. Surprisingly, I don’t remember the second kiss. I was more focused on sliding into second base. I was a breast man then, and I’m a breast man now–with regard to quality over quantity.
How silly I was then not to realize kissing is to be enjoyed, not just a pass-through.
I remember the third girl I kissed. Perhaps I owe to her what I know today. Remember looking with her at a photo of us kissing together and she captioned the photo “The River”. Apparently a river, OK, tributary, of saliva would flow from my mouth to her puckered lips. Thinking back to the third, fourth, fifth…to today..I feel I have perfected the kiss, yet am always open to learn more.
Kissing is an art, it tells a lot about someone, and connects you on a different level than prior.
The perfect kiss begins with eye contact, intense eye contact, looking deep into the other person, feeling their energy unite with yours. Looking down at the lips, then back up into their eyes. (No elevator eyes up and down their body, for you already know, or don’t need to know, about the body.)
Closer together the lips come, and I stop, she’s ready for the lips to meet, but I hold off, just for a moment. I take my hand and gently place it on the back of her neck. Slowly, (or sometimes opting for fast n hard, as that can be quite exhilarating!) drawing her closer to me, our lips touch…I pull back, lips apart, draw my hand into her hair and squeeze just enough to hear her moan. With her soft beautiful hair in my fingers I bring our lips together again, this time with more passion. I pull back ever so slightly, place my upper and lower lips around just her upper lip and gently, slowly bite down….and then…well, I can’t reveal everything, now can I?
I’ve been on dates where a bad kiss was all I needed to know I didn’t wish to continue. One’s kiss is personal, tells a lot about the person, and can make or break an encounter.
Joel’s friend Serena shares her perspective:
I used to think of kissing as a prelude to the better “stuff,” or a way to show the other person that everything is alright.
Recently, I’ve had a kissing epiphany with the luck of finding someone who has chemistry with my lips, and myself.
A friend once described a first kiss with her partner with the few words, “It was like time stopped.”
I couldn’t relate. I know what she means now. Haven’t you ever been doing something you enjoyed so much you couldn’t focus on anything but that? A powerful massage, your favorite song played live at a concert? Isn’t it like time is stopping during that moment? That’s what I feel more times than not when I’m kissing a certain someone.
What creates this? Maybe this:
Our eyes connect, and his magnetize to draw me into him uncontrollably. The force is stopped by two soft lips and I can feel his excitement in his motions as he pulls me closer. Sometimes the motion of the lips is fast, sometimes soft and gentle, sometimes playful but in each kiss a perfect connection of two bodies and lips touching and exploring–minds connecting. A kiss is a full body and soul experience.
Indeed, as Serena and Joel remind us the kiss is so more than lip service. It is hands, bodies, minds and souls in optimistic concert.
How long has it been since you’ve been properly kissed?
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A young woman dressed in men’s clothing swaggers into a room full of pets awaiting adoption. Her demeanor and appearance are quintessentially “butch”. A few minutes later, I am surprised to see her tough exterior morph into that of a sweet soft-spoken girl, as she attempts to befriend a scraggly misfit cat, I try to strike up a conversation with her, but it’s immediately apparent, she isn’t nearly as comfortable talking to me, as to the cat. She can relate to the cat in a way she can’t relate to me–perhaps because the cat won’t question her or make judgments. I’ve never seen this woman before, but she seems to be one, for whom, interpersonal relationships are difficult.
It’s possible my cynicism has made my interior as tough, as her exterior, but I am skeptical about the emotions pet-owners credit their animals as having–like that unconditional love thing. Dog owners are fond of talking about the unconditional love of dogs. Seriously?
Try not feeding a dog, or scold your dog regularly, then see how unconditional a dog’s love is. What passes as unconditional love is a cooperative partnership between a human and a canine. The dog allows you to be his proxy dog. You are a surrogate for his dog clan, but if you fail to properly motivate him, he’ll likely prove he’s not so loyal. If he were unconditionally loving, he’d spit polish your shoes, instead of chewing them.
It’s easy for us to project human emotions to animals. It’s how we think, but there is a limit to an animal’s capacity for emotional understanding. They may bond with us, be fond of us and even demonstrate sensitivity to our moods, but emotionally, they are not people. Looking into my own dog’s eyes, it would be easy to believe he’s smarter than he is. Like the eyes in one of those religious paintings that seem to follow you, his eyes have an amazing ability to look sad, compassionate, understanding, or contrite. Though his face is very compelling, there is no evidence he feels any of those things. It would be easy for me to believe he understands me, but he’s a dog. He’s barely smart enough to realize, my need to close the bathroom door, isn’t abandonment.
Over the years, I’ve seen many people who transferred excess emotions to a relationship with an animal. I’ve known women, for whom animals were surrogate children, surrogate family or surrogate men–as in companions or protectors. For a woman, the need to give and receive affection can be satisfied by an animal, but it’s not just women. Dogs can easily be man’s best friend because they are easy, low-maintenance buddies. They don’t have complicated displays of emotions, like crying; and their priorities, food, drink, play and sleep are right in line with those of men. For either gender an animal is an good receptacle for unspent passion, energy or friendship.
Nevertheless, the baby-talking girl with the buzz-cut is illustrative of how people often transfer their affections to noncombatant objects. There is little argument from a dog when you tell him he stinks. You can force a dog to wear silly clothing, travel in a handbag or talk to them long past the time when a spouse would have tuned out. A dog won’t roll his eyes if you insist on calling him your pookie-pookie-precious, and if you tell him he’s sleeping on the porch because you’re tired of having him in your bed, he might not like it, but he won’t be grumpy all the next day.
Perhaps this is why there are t-shirts and coffee mugs which say, “The more I know men, the better I like my dog.”
Though I understand that animals can meet needs when people fail, it’s sad when someone’s previous experiences or failure with relationships, causes them to swear-off people. I guess I should just be grateful. My dog is great, but I still like prefer the company of people. Getting close to people is risky, in a once-bitten, twice-shy kind of way.
“It’s the biggest media event since the death of Michael Jackson!”
I haven’t regularly watched TV in almost two years. I take time to watch an NBA game, when I can, but I’ve generally lost interest in TV. Even as a non-watcher, I find it impossible to keep TV out of my consciousness. Radio, social media, and newspapers cover TV, as if it were news. I often feel I’ve watched stuff I haven’t. Even the commercials become part of pop-culture and our collective psyche.
Recently, thousands brewed espresso, set their alarms or DVRs, so as not to miss The Royal Wedding. It was “must-see” TV. That same week, I received the above tweet. It referred not to The Royal Wedding, but the death of most-wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden. At the time, I was blissfully far from continual news and having to listen to those who stretch a few sketchy details into hours of coverage. I was mercifully spared the torture of listening to comments on other peoples’ comments, or interviews with experts who know little more than the viewers, of the thing on which they are commenting.
Nevertheless, I was struck by the remark above and how our obsessive interest in celebrity often becomes more important than the real issues that used to constitute news. From most of my friends, the response to the death of Bin Laden was an enthusiastic, “Hell yeah!”, but there were those who were merely miffed that shows like Desperate Housewives and Celebrity Apprentice were pre-empted.
As the news unfolded (or failed to) we were subjected to more inaccurate and insubstantial coverage. Controversies about the story, replaced the story. Why was Osama buried at sea? Why was the government keeping the pictures from the public? Did Osama deserve to die? We were also learned the names of Nick and Mariahs’ twins, heard the latest news of the would-be king & his bride, and finally got a break from Charlie Sheen, American Idol and Trump’s quest for Obama’s birth certificate.
The tabloids at the checkstand, declared Oprah is gay and Osama begged for his life. Through popular magazines we learned Marie Osmond wore her original wedding dress when she remarried her first husband in an LDS temple and Kirstie Allie has lost 90 lbs. while dancing with the stars. Oh yeah, and in case you missed it, a natural remedy for impotence was found in Osama’s medicine cabinet.
The media makes everything a circus, but the tent with the freak show is still the biggest draw.
For all of my adult life, the media obsessively covered Michael Jackson and Lady Di until their tragic deaths. Whether it was the glamour or the tragedy, there seemed no point at which we’d had enough.
Remember the how long we had to listen to the outrage when Michael Jackson held his baby over a balcony for fans to see? It was as if, no mother had ever seen her husband toss a baby into the air, while fearing the worst. If it hadn’t been Michael Jackson, it would have been much ado about nothing. Yet, Jacko’s act caused weeks of discussion, finger-wagging and tsk-tsking. Finally, we had proof he was an unfit parent–as if the litany of his other odd acts, like naming a child “Blanket” or making his kids to wear masks & veils wasn’t evidence enough.
Kato Kaelin, Camilla, Paris, Kim Kardashian, and Spencer Pratt are just a few of many, whose celebrity is based on nothing except association with celebs or media over-coverage. There are politically-outspoken personalities like Donald Trump, Cher, Julia, and Sean Penn who believe their celebrity status makes their opinions valid for the rest of America, despite the fact that most of them live lives far different from the rest of us. But if you don’t embrace the politics of Hollywood, the media provides alternatives like Joe the Plumber, Snooki and Cindy Sheehan. Like all the other celebs, they are just people–people who are really no more interesting or knowledgeable than you or I.
We are obsessed. Being privy to the drama and failings of the lives of others, should serve to remind us they are ordinary people with the same problems as the rest of us. Nevertheless, we continue to fawn, spellbound and eager for more details. In the meantime, the real news which affects us, is edged out of our periphery, so stations can secure ratings. We know more of Susan Boyle and Nadya Sulliman, than of our government’s economic policies & practices. We are more interested in the coterie of the red carpet, than the details of Obamacare. We more likely know the names of Jackson’s chimp or Siegfried’s tigers, than the terrorist animals who threaten our security. Like drivers craning our necks to see an accident, we want to know the gory details, even when we know it’s in our best interest to look at the less interesting stuff in front of us.
I have just returned from Stagecoach at Coachella, a two-day country music festival presented in the dusty desert near Palm Springs. The things seen & heard would be enough to provide material for a few blog posts, but two things stand out in my head. Today I’ll share first.
The Coachella festivals are about sun, fun & music; but the scene is also about seeing and being seen. Many women are hoping to catch mens’ eyes, but the competition is stiff. I’m unusual, in that it doesn’t bother me in the least if Beloved Soul Mate is looking at other women. (In my book, his sexuality would be suspect if he didn’t.) Fortunately, he’s an equally good sport, when I occasionally admire the bodies of well-built men. (I say occasionally, because there are far too few well-built men for this girl with a weakness for a manly chests, shoulders and arms.) Arriving at Coachella, it was quickly apparent, we’d both get our fill.
So while, I was admiring a few chiseled pec-decks, he was pretending not to see the thousands of girls who were sashaying around the campground in cut-offs and bikini tops or undersized swimsuits. I considered adopting the mode du jour, of topping a pair of Daisy Dukes with a teensy set of “Dixie” cups, afterall, if Beloved Soul Mate is going to be looking at all the sexy women, there isn’t any reason I can’t be one of them, but going out mostly undressed isn’t me. No matter, even with me dressed there was no shortage of near-nakedness. Every red-blooded male, Beloved Soul Mate, and I were all checking out the girl bods on display. Everywhere one looked, there there were small tops and small bottoms, some of which barely covered large tops and large bottoms. Girls of every size, shape and shade of tan were on display. A percentage of those girls looked amazing, but the greater percentage looked desperate.
Maybe I’ve turned into my mother, because I found myself feeling sorry for some of the young girls hoping their bodies would attract a man. I felt sorry for the ones who would wake up after the weekend feeling used, because they’ve yet to realize the fleeting attraction of flesh, sorry for girls who don’t yet have the confidence to trust the other stuff they have to offer, and sorry for the ones who don’t realize they are encouraging men to take advantage of them. It made me thankful for my age.
It doesn’t seem long ago, that I was one of the younger gals in any group, but time passes much faster than an inexperienced girl can imagine. Fortunately, with time we learn a few things–including what makes for lasting attractiveness. Though it’s isn’t likely I’ll be mistaken for a 20-something, I love and admire the face I see in the mirror. If I don’t look too closely, or too early in the morning, I can convince myself I’m beautiful. More than that, the woman in the mirror, knows stuff. Her face is full of joy, strength and the wisdom of lessons-learned. The innocence of the face that used-to-be, has been replaced by one that is the product of life-experiences–a substance sort of like cosmetic fillers for the psyche. My vintage face is not nearly as perfect, as the face I wore at 25, but it isn’t a bad substitute for the one that preceded it. Truth be known, I like this one better.
The attractive young girls, compare themselves to older women and can’t imagine ever being one. They look at the aging bodies of their mothers and are justifiably smug about their bodies and fresh faces. Why not? To young women, external appearance is beauty. What they don’t know is while they are feeling smug about their attractiveness, I am feeling equally smug.
If any one of those young gals woke up tomorrow with grey roots or crow’s feet, she’d be lost, devastated. She wouldn’t know who she was. She might readily trade her soul for the perky breasts or pouty lips she once took for granted. Those young girls might be beautiful, but they know little of the kind of beauty that lasts.