Monday, March 31, 2008

The Challenge...

The Amarinda Blog challenges the Oh Get a Grip Blog to put their money where their mouth is and give an opinion. I want to know the 5 things that total and utterly piss you off beyond all reason. No namby pamby responses will be accepted.

Well, that's clear enough. I could probably think of twenty, but the one I chose has a certain
immediacy for me. I'm preparing to go to a convention. This convention will have several fancy events that require special clothing. Since I'm built like that ancient mother goddess (see picture on right), finding clothing of any description can be difficult, but during my hunt for the right outfits, I discovered that not only does nothing fit--it's all designed to make me look like I'm wearing a circus tent!

All I wanted was a variety of black mix'n'match pieces. If one of them had a few little sparklies on it, that would have been nice. Nope. The house hunk pointed out a beautiful turquoise halter topped dress. When I patiently pointed out that nobody wanted to see my ham shaped arms, let along enough cleavage to smother Cleveland, he asked, "Why not?"

I gave him one word. "Pictures."

Now when you're built like MG, there is no disguising that fact, but there's no need to advertise it either! So I continued in my quest for something classical in style. In two days I walked my legs off and this is what I found out. In this country, if you are a large sized woman and you need a pretty outfit for something like a wedding or dance, you're out of luck.

What I want to know is... in a nation FULL OF FAT PEOPLE, why is no one making clothes for them? Article after article after article rants on and on about what a crisis this is in our country and even around the world. So why are there no nice clothes for them? The stores I checked out were upper end retail establishments. And they had an upper "end" size limit. When they had clothes in my size, they were the most God-awful colors, fabrics, and styles you could imagine. Bilious pinks, oranges, and lime greens...

Take a peek back at the MG statue. Now visualize her in a full flowered skirt paired with a "baby doll" top in pepto bismol pink. I kid you not. And it was trimmed in fluorescent bead work. Another one I came across was flamenco red (with good reason) since it was evidently designed with an overweight flamenco dancer in mind. Deep ruffles around the hem and halter neckline. It reminded me of that scene from that Disney movie with the dancing elephants.

Another thing--why do the clothing manufacturers think that I'm tall, just because I'm rotund? Do you know how silly I look (and feel) when my sleeves cover my fingers and the pants are 4-6 inches too long? Do I look like I have nothing to do with my life except hem my clothes?

In one store, there was an enormous display of fancy dresses. It's getting to be wedding season and prom time so the stores are going all out. Well, I looked through all the racks and the top size was 16. So I asked the clerk where the Women's dresses were. She directed me to another part of the store. There were sweat pants and tops. There were jeans, t-shirts, chinos, and sweaters. There was one rack of mis-matched outfits marked clearance. There were no dresses of any description.

I asked the clerk in that department where the fancy dresses were for WOMEN! "Ah," she said, "this is what we have." Then with the carelessness of the young, she added, "Fat women don't dress up anyway." I couldn't help wondering about all those chubby young women I see walking home from the local high school. What do they do for their prom?

Perhaps the reason so many fat people look like slobs is because they can't find clothing to fit. And if your clothes don't fit, you don't really feel like moving around much. You don't want to go outside. You really don't want to go to a gym. Actually? You just don't care.

Because I never know when I might meet a potential reader, I make a conscious effort to look professional and neat every time I go out the door, whether it's to walk around the block or go to the store. That's why I know how difficult it is to find comfortable clothing. I would say that 90% of my clothing comes from Wal-Mart. And of all the clothing I buy, I would further say that 95% of it is one brand. Why? Because I can count on finding pants that are exactly the right length and shirts that fit without dragging around my knees. The price is attractive, too.

I would like to shop around and have a greater variety, but that doesn't seem likely to happen anytime soon. I should report that I found two sparkly tops so I'm pretty well finished shopping. But I'm not in any hurry to do it again. Not at all.


2) It pisses me off when people talk personal business on their cell phone at a restaurant while I'm trying to eat. I'm talking about really personal business. One guy in the booth behind me was describing what he planned to do to his girlfriend the next night. Even I learned some new things. Things I didn't want to learn and hadn't thought of.

3) It pisses me off when poor white people cannot get government assistance in an emergency while the rest of the rainbow has no problem with this. A young woman I know had $3 in her checking account and was told that she didn't qualify. How can you not qualify and why isn't it an emergency? Does she literally have to be on the street? She sat two days in the waiting room so she could speak to someone. Other people--particularly those that spoke no English--walked in, spoke to an interpreter--and walked out with assistance in hand.

4) It pisses me off when children talk back, whine, throw fits, etc. in stores, restaurants and other places and parents do nothing. When my kids were little we had an iron clad rule. You talk back, etc., we leave right then. If two parents were present, one took the child out to the car. If you were alone with the kids, you all left. Our kids knew that misbehaving in public meant that you didn't get to stay in public.

5) It really pisses me off when people use the "f" word in public. I've heard it used as a noun, adjective, adverb, verb, and every other part of speech all in one sentence. Get a life, people! Can't you be more inventive than that? Don't you know any other words? Maybe I could loan you a dictionary.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Wonder Woman

Fascinating discussion. No really. It's interesting to me that women will flock to 300 or watch Conan the Barbarian (no not the late night host!) and be perfectly content with tights and skimpy costumes. Put a hot outfit on a smart, crime solving, aggressive, empowered woman like Linda Carter and all hell breaks loose. Just for the record, this was all happening at the time that you had two bumbling fool males acting as shills for Bewitched and I Dream of Jeanie! Given the time period and context i would have much rather had Wonder Woman representing me as a woman than Darren representing me as a man (no dagwood jokes please - maybe i am just bitter because of the namesake!) 

On a side note, Wonder Woman did provide me with a great pick up line several years ago when i went up to a girl in Starbucks and said, "Has anyone ever told you you look like Wonder Woman?" Turns out she gets that a lot and responded "You mean Linda Carter?" Not being as familiar with the name of the actress who played my childhood fantasy i proceeded to argue, "No, i don't think that was her name". At any rate, from that encounter we forged a wonderful and crazy making relationship that my brother described at one point as being Shakespearean. Fresh out of a divorce it was a true school of hard knocks and good, bad, or indifferent... we did become very dear friends. In a sappier moment i even wrote her a poem.

Who knew when I hung that poster on the wall
That the teenage boys infatuation with the eyes of wonder
Would submerge itself, buried deep beneath the struggle
Only to resurface one day in an irregular coffee shop
Providing an opening line which would lead me to you

I included a picture from happier times so you can judge for yourself any resemblance.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Daffodil by Anny Cook


When Florian LeFleur announces his intentions to take his three unmarried daughters to Came-a-lot to find husbands, his youngest daughter Daffodil is not pleased. She’s quite happy with the arrangement she already has with Raulf the butler at LeFleur Manor. Undeterred, Florian insists that she accompany him to Came-a-lot. Besides, he’s sure she can do better than a butler.

Then Raulf discovers his antique cock rings and favorite floggers are missing. He follows in hot pursuit, using the theft to claim Daffodil as his own. Instead of mastering Daffodil at his leisure, Raulf finds that he must fit her hot sexy lessons in while tracking down the thief who stole the king’s pet rock, training Timid Timmy in rope bondage, and capturing the sorceress, Morgana.

The door banged against the wall as Timid Timmy flung it open in his haste to spread the news. Panting and breathless, he declared, “Florian LeFleur just showed up! He’s upstairs in the library yelling at Chrysanthemum and Honeysuckle!”

For a few long seconds, Raulf and Daffodil froze in a tableau right out of Prince Gawain’s recent bestseller, “Domination: Love Your Sub” before Daffodil stomped her foot in frustration. “Close the door, Timmy. Raulf, release me and remove the toys! I suppose I’ll have to go upstairs and find out what’s going on.”

Raulf hastened to obey her while Timmy shut and barred the door. Sighing in aggravation at having her proposed afternoon of delight interrupted, Daffodil yanked on a brilliant yellow zipsuit that suited her sunny name if not her current mood, and stalked upstairs in search of an absentee father she hadn’t laid eyes on since she was six.

With Raulf and Timmy at her heels she halted in the hallway outside the library. Honeysuckle was sitting demurely next to Chrysanthemum on the sofa in the library while a short, stocky gray-haired man paced to and fro in front of them, alternately shouting and muttering. His hair stuck up like a rumpled nest of feathers. Daffodil stood in the doorway and studied the angry man while she listened intently to the harangue.

“The king gives me permission to bring my daughters to Came-a-lot so they can find eligible husbands so I post down here, traveling through the Dread Forest, taking my life in my hands and what do I find? What do I find? I’ll tell you what I found! Honeysuckle in the barn with the stable hands. Chrysanthemum in the library reading an ancient moldy book like an old maiden. And Daffodil…” he groped for words before he continued wrathfully, “Daffodil was naked in the dungeon allowing the butler to flog her with a purple flogger! What kind of man uses a purple flogger?” Florian’s bellow was now so loud that his wayward daughters figured they could hear him all the way to Came-a-lot.

Honeysuckle minutely inspected her nails and hummed.

Chrysanthemum yawned.

Raulf winced and waited for the explosion. It wasn’t long in arriving.

“Do you hear me?” their papa shouted.

“Of course we hear you,” Honeysuckle muttered under her breath. “The dragons on Chrystal Isle hear you. The monks at Solomon’s Choice Abbey hear you. I bet even randy old King Arthur hears you.” Honey picked at a cuticle and sighed with disgust. “What do you want, anyway?”

A long silence ensued as words failed Florian. His mouth opened and shut and then he said very, very quietly, “Pack up. You three girls are going to Came-a-lot. I’m shutting the house up. Once I have you off my hands, I’ll sell this millstone and finally have a life.”

“What about Mama?” Chrysanthemum pushed her slipping glasses back up her nose with one nail-bitten finger.

“What about her?” Florian was suddenly impatient with the entire mess. “She’s out of my hair, happy with her acrobats. I’m finally free.” He frowned at Chrys. “Why acrobats, anyway?”

Honeysuckle’s smile had a malicious tinge to it. “She said they were limber, always ready and used to working as a team.”

Want More? Click on the cover for the buy link.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

I wonder...

I’ll admit that I never thought very much about Wonder Woman one way or another. I watched the show occasionally, liked the idea of a female action hero without having any strong philosophical feelings about it. Kind of liked that she was a brunette, as so many of our sex symbols are blondes, real or pseudo. In college I hung out with a lot of comic-book geeks and realized there aren’t a lot of women in the comics, but frankly I always preferred Rogue and Storm—team players as opposed to solo acts like Diana Prince. And her props are kind of lame if you think about them—a golden lasso and an invisible plane? Puh-leeze.

Living up to the example of Wonder Woman—or the modern equivalent? Thanks but no thanks. Any one remember the old Enjoli perfume commercial? “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan, and never ever let you forget you’re a man.” That’s been stuck in my head for twenty years (30?) and it still makes me want to hurl. I never EVER wanted to live up to that. I am perfectly happy admitting that while I CAN cook (as long as I have detailed instructions and don’t get distracted) I DON’T cook, except in emergencies. That’s my dh’s territory, and I feel no need or desire to encroach. At various points in our marriage (23 years, or almost) I have been the major moneymaker, and at other points (including now) he has. Neither of us get bent about that. It all goes into the bank, and it’s all good. We both clean bathrooms and when the kids were little we both changed diapers. He's still a man. I'm still a woman.

As for fictional heroines? I like the ones that are a little more human, a little more fallible. The ones who without special powers step up to the plate. But I can get lost in a fantasy too, whether it's Nancy Drew and her magnetic attraction to finding mystery at every turn or Pippi Longstocking and her super-strength. There's value in that as well. Girls need over-the-top heroines just like boys do.

In the end, though, women need to remember that they can be powerful without a golden lasso. They can be strong without bullet-proof wristbands. And they can be sexy without corseted curves and perfect hair and make-up. Look around you at the waitress who brings your food, the teacher who handles thirty spoiled children, or even the police officer who writes you a ticket. There are heroines, true heroines, all around us. And none of them wear boomerang crowns.

Let us know what you think.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ninja Warrior Women

I never got the big deal about Wonder Woman. I watched the show a few times but I never really considered her important in any way. Maybe she was just too comic-booky for a girl who liked to read poetry. The real women in my life were my role models and hey, if I wanted a completely fake role model, there were plenty of fictional characters who were much better than Wonder Woman. Personally, I loved Mary Richards of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She was a boss at work, independent, sassy, smart and funny. This was a woman who could deal with people and all sorts of crazy situations with class and style. In yesterday’s post, Kelly mentions Jamie Summers, the Bionic Woman. Now there’s a heroine. She didn’t ask for what happened to her but she made the best of it and helped people along the way.

That’s what real women DO. They face their situations. They deal with husbands, lovers, kids and careers. That’s the best kind of strength. It’s what I’ve found in my friends and what I HOPE they see in me.

Maybe I’ve just never really liked kick ass ninja warrior women and they’re everywhere. Movies, television, and books. They have black belts in karate, are master sword fighters, and know exactly how to kick the snot out of the bad guys without breaking a nail. I just can’t believe these kinds of characters are still being shoved in our faces in this day and age. Isn’t it enough that we’re women? Female empowerment isn’t about physical strength but about emotional depth. Intelligence, humor, and grace are the real deal. Not this other stuff.

When I was a little girl, my dad was in a horrible car accident and was in a coma for many months. No one thought he’d make it. Mom was young with two little girls (I was only six). She couldn’t drive so she took a crash course, got her license, and worked Dad’s job in the oil fields for six months. She wanted him to have his work when he woke up (and she was certain he would). She took care of us, did hard physical labor, and made it to the hospital every day.

Nope. I didn’t need Wonder Woman. We had a real one at home.
Do you have a real Wonder Woman in your life? Let’s hear it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mixed Signals

I grew up on Wonder Woman. Even as an expat in Saudi Arabia I knew who Diana Prince was. We had one television channel and once a week our family sat on the couch and watched Wonder Woman. Then Mom and Dad would make us leave so they could watch *gasp* Hill Street Blues. They felt the latter was far too violent for us. But apparently, watching Diana spin in a circle and them prance around in a strapless uber suit was okay.

I adored her. I wanted to be her. I made my own bullet proof cuffs, the really cool tiara that doubled as a boomerang, and even-yes-the lasso. Mine was gold gift wrap string and it constantly knotted. I even had the Wonder Woman underoos. If you don't know what underoos are, they are undershirts shirts and panties in superhero designs. I was a sight running around in those.

Enough side-tracking. Where was I? Oh yeah, mixed messages. So we watched two shows a week and the only one the kids were allowed to see had a half naked woman dodging bullets and shoving her cleavage under the nose of the nearest bad guy. What message was that supposed to send?

We were coming off an age where women were meant to submit, be lovely, have dinner prepared and on the table, house cleaning in high heels, and do it all with a smile. I think Wonder Woman was Hollywood's way of transitioning to the modern woman. But for little girls that have Barbies and Wonder Woman to grow up on, the message is that we are meant to do it all and look sexy in the process. I submit women are sexy as they are, without the jiggling breasts and corseted underwear.

What are we meant to be? Supermodels or kick ass heroines? And if you didn't know what women went through pre Wonder Woman years, it is a hellova thing to think you must be this perfect, super woman, and still submit and secretly long for your boss man. Wonder Woman may have represented a liberated woman to those before my time. To me, she holds womankind back. Diana Prince limits us to beauty tips and red lipstick, panty hose and lycra fetishes, the look-at-me contingent of women who require a man's approval before they can succeed.

She sucks as a representative of an entire gender. It's time she closed the make up bag and retired the suit. Put on your sweats, ladies and get yourself some true kick ass gear. You're gorgeous they way you are. It's time the girls of this generation find a new heroine to look up too. A realistic one. Maybe Hill Street Blues would have provided a stronger role model.

By Kelly Kirch,

Monday, March 24, 2008

Are you Wonder Woman?

True story.

The kids were playing out in the yard. Summertime haze and heat with moms talking while the sprinklers watered lawns and kids jumped in and out of the spray with shouts of joy. Suddenly there was a squeal of brakes and parents went running out to the street. Time stopped.

A car was parked in the middle of the street with the driver's door standing open. A woman was bent over a little girl who stood defiantly, arms akimbo, staring mulishly up at the strange woman.

Woman: "What did you think you were doing? You don't run out into the street! I could have killed you!"

Girl: "You can't hurt me! I'm Wonder Woman!"

That really happened. It's one thing to believe that you're Wonder Woman when you're four years old. It's another thing to still believe that when you're a twenty-something or even a forty-something.

Women, for whatever reason, tend to believe that they can be everything, do everything without taking time out to care for themselves--and there won't be any consequences. Well, no. Eventually, time catches up.

When I was much younger (and more impressed with myself) I believed that everything would come to a screeching halt if I wasn't there to oversee it. Job, family, church all needed my undivided attention. My day started at four AM and went until midnight. I spent SIX hours everyday in the car. Every day, Monday through Friday. I arrived early at work, stayed late, supervised my grandchild at home, cooked, cleaned, did laundry...

And then a miracle happened. My husband was transferred to another state. I had to leave my job. I had to leave my church responsibilties. My adult children all had to find their own places to live. And do you know? Nothing bad happened. The job went on without me and so did the church. My children all moved on with their own lives.

Of course, I couldn't quite figure out what to do with myself. Then one day my son said to me, "You've always wanted time to write. Now you have it. Why don't you write?"

Quite frankly, I love my life right now. And I have absolutely no interest in ever doing my imitation of Wonder Woman again. I'm happy enough just being Anny Cook.

So, what about you? Are you Wonder Woman?

Anny Cook