About Me

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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Shorts Subjects

A couple of weekends ago, spring was seriously flirting and I got pretty adventuresome. Poking into the bottom-most dresser drawer, I fished them out, and they still looked and felt grand, though I'd not seen them in a year. I do not golf, but I could, because I have the shorts. It pleases me that women's golf shorts are not unimaginatively pastel like men's golf togs of old. No, these are bright and exciting and they weigh less than zero, being fashioned from a miracle fabric that wicks my (golfing, supposedly) perspiration away from my body. I own 5 pairs of the same brand. They are hideously expensive, but not to me, because I buy them on eBay at a tiny fraction of retail. I scrunched the fabric in my hands for the sensory thrill I knew would result. The magic goods feel slightly suede-like, perhaps like suede in its infancy. I looked over the 5 choices, remembering which tops and which shoes or sandals to pair with each for best effect. Feeling that I deserved to go all the way and squeeze every moment of pleasure out of this reacquaintance-making, I decided to slide on the pair I like best. Shite. Houston, we have a problem. I'd pulled those shorts up and over myself, buttoned them, zipped them, looked into the mirror and watched them slither right down to the floor, unfettered by buttons and zipper. My legs stuck out of them like two white sticks and it was clear. If I am to wear these shorts, I'm going to need a rope to hold them on.

I enjoy playing with clothing, displaying of it on my body. I'm not a fashion plate. I may not even have good taste. But I know what I like and I know what I don't like. I don't dress to seduce. I don't dress to impress. I dress for fun. For my own amusement and pleasure. I love to noodle around online finding bargains and I find - really - that if something about a piece of clothing makes me laugh, or even just grin, it's going to work for me. I have not always taken such pleasure in adorning myself. It is a newer game to me. I did not have the pleasure of "dressing up Barbie" for decades, and I'm enjoying it now. Not that my body resembles Barbie's in any way. Yes, even at eBay and other bargain spots, I've likely spent a shameful amount of money. At times I have owned too much, though I donated a mountain of really serviceable items and felt good for that. I've not replaced that mountain with new, unnecessary items.

I had no sister with whom to trade clothing. I would have enjoyed that, I think. For a very brief spell when I was 11, I could (and was invited to) wear some of my mother's things. They fit properly. But they smelled of cigarette smoke, even when recently laundered. And she was "old" and dressed that way. By the way, "old" is a relative concept. When I was 11, she was 28, but she didn't dress like Mod dollybirds in swinging London, and that's how I wanted to look. I rejected her kind offers very quickly. There was also a small window of opportunity during which Amber and I shared clothes, but it was not an ideal situation. I am virtually colorless and Amber is beautifully mocha - we have no business wearing the same colors. She was 12 and I was 50. Enough said? Oh, yes, and then there was the summer that she shot up to 5' 8", needing size 11 shoes, trumping everything.

I am also fascinated by the bodies that dwell beneath the veils. No, this post is not about to go south of PG-13. I am intrigued by the things our bodies can achieve and withstand. Perhaps the most heart-rending story of a body that I know is about Ex's and what he did to that body with years of drinking. When his body screamed "Enough! No more!", we had a 2-year-old child and were told he would not survive 6 months. Every bit of news was bad and then worse. It took him 18 years to die. That body worked hard to sustain the life force. It is something I admired about him, for with him, I saw physical atrocities that shouldn't be visited on any good human. And speaking of Ex's body, how 'bout the fact that we had a child! We tried, literally, for 20 years. It was important to us both. We accessed every scientific approach known at the time at great financial cost and cost to the soul when no pregnancy ever occurred. Not once. Same two people, same general health conditions. And then it did occur, just the once. Although I know how to do the "kootchy-kootchy, baby, baby" thing well and I love my daughter just because she is my child, I am also awed by the simple, unadorned fact that Ex and I made another human being together. Bits of him, bits of me, all of herself. It is a great gift and responsibility.

My father nears 80 and plays tennis every day of life. Despite his very small stature, he was an ace boxer in the Air Force. He suffered terribly from rheumatoid arthritis for many years, spending one entire year in a wheelchair. During one episode, he could not stand the weight of the blankets on his feet in the bed. He had my mother bring a cardboard box, slide it between the sheets, and he placed his feet in the box. That is burned in my memory. He'd learned it while in the VA hospital enduring an earlier attack at age 18. And yet he has not suffered now for 30 years or more. It doesn't just "go away". Where is it? What happened? I am brilliant in no way, but it occurs to me that my father's greatest periods of stability and happiness have also occurred during those same 30 years. Hmm . . . the body as the barometer of the heart and soul? He never harmed himself with food, alcohol or any other addictions. His body serves him well now.

My mother abused her body in many ways, from years of smoking, terrifying alcoholism (Her assessment. I am not qualified to judge her so.), anorexia, addiction to prescribed medication and addiction to working out. [Please note, I'm never going to point a finger at any human being and scream "Addict!" It isn't my right. If I feel the urge, I'll just glance into one of many mirrors available.] My mother, however, is heroic (yes, that one IS my opinion) about working the "rigorous honesty" part of her 12-step program. She tells anyone who will listen. I haven't always credited her so. I do today. Despite all the abuse, my mother is a relatively healthy 75-year-old who walks miles every day, attends her AA meetings and takes other steps to retain her health and well-being. It is amazing to me now to look into a mirror after I shower. Oh, yeah, the face is 100% my father's and 0% anyone else's except my own, I suppose, after all these years. (Ironically, Amber's face, too, is nearly 100% her father's. Oh, that hurt when she was an infant and toddler. I wanted her to carry some physical evidence that she was my child, too. Alas. But her brain and heart are much like mine, and that is a gift, too.) But my body is nearly 100% like my mother's. It wasn't always so. It is now.

My own body and my treatment of it, my acceptance of the ways that some others have treated it, is the biggest mystery to me. Right now it is the most healthy it has been since my youth, and I have maintained general good health for nearly 10 years. I do not get colds or the flu. Though I can trip over lint, I'm rarely injured very seriously. I find that when I push my person, I learn new and gratifying things about myself. Yes, I can walk just 2 more miles. I can swim 5 extra laps. I can and will be stronger at 60 than I was at 40. I seem prone to a few troubling conditions that I call "odd". "Rare" or "uncommon" might be more accurate. It reminds me that no one asks for illness or "conditions", there are probably no good reasons why some of us get this thing, but not that thing, and handling burdens with grace is a difficult task. I find I am frightened of things I can't control easily. This includes alcoholism - the most shocking illness I've ever discovered in me. I am frightened of the collapse of my self.

Some of my most frightening and lonely moments have been spent in an emergency room at a hospital with a very fine address in Las Vegas. I go to this hospital for the occasional blood transfusion, staying overnight to have my tank topped off and to be monitored awhile. Make no mistake, I am damned grateful to get a shot of A- when I need it and a blood transfusion is not physically difficult. Lie back and fill up. Read a book, listen to the iPod, take it easy. Walk to the bathroom if needed, request juice and have it magically appear. However, it eats my head alive. I focus and fret about the reasons I need a blood transfusion and why and what if and oh, my! At this hospital, I have never been housed in any other way than this: on a gurney in the hallway, pushed smack up against a wall, no curtain, brakes applied to my gurney so I don't roll away. I clutch my purse between my knees in case I doze off. My shoes remain on my feet, even while lying down, because there is no place to put them, otherwise. I stress about whether, if I do doze off, I will drool, snore or whimper in my sleep, right out there for god and everybody to notice. It is the most naked, the most vulnerable and exposed way, I have ever felt. I never fail to come away disturbed. But much pinker of cheek.

Most recently I have been working with someone on the junk in my trunk. Again. Still. This time, therapy and medication are assisted by everything AA, so another implement in the tool chest being applied to a pretty disastrous construction. I have become amazed to learn how many of my quirks (very nice word for such flaws) are symptomatic of alcoholism or other addiction, even some stemming from childhood. I have nearly dropped my jaw to hear some theories that say, "The patient may use these words . . . " and they are precisely the words I've used since my first foray into therapy. I wonder why no one, not one professional, ever suggested to me . . . oh, well. I found it anyway, even if quite late.

Preface to paragraph: I can't order up my thoughts for the day like items from a menu. I can't say "only fairy dust today, please". The thoughts just come on their own. This isn't a pretty paragraph. For many reasons, my body, my person, attracted a number of different forms of disrespect and bad acts over the years by more than one person. At a very young age, I knew how to take anger out on my body even when others were not doing so. I was such a good learner, I didn't even need an abuser to further damage myself. This strikes me much like young women who have been sexually violated and then become promiscuous as a reaction. I have sat before a number of therapists who have listened to me talk and then said, "Do you cut, carve or burn yourself?" I don't. Some of them have said, "May I look at your arms and legs?" Sure. I really don't do those things. And right now, today, I don't do many other harmful or questionable things to my person. Mostly, I am doing things to take care of myself. Not reliant upon anyone else to care for me, I am blundering my way along toward learning to take care of myself. Sometimes, I even think I'm worth it. That is progress.

Well, the sky is now hop-scotching from perfectly leaden to short periods of bright sunshine. The wind is incessant, the temperature just not quite warm enough to suit me. What's new? It saddened me to read about the death of Geraldine Ferraro just now. Yes, I liked her politics. But she died from an ailment I know about. Sorrowful. She hoped to survive the disease long enough to attend the inauguration of the first woman U.S. president. She didn't make it.

Something that charmed me: I don't feel so charmed or charming today. I feel pensive and restless. Tomorrow will be another day, and I'm sure I'll roll out feeling perky. I used to feel obligated to force a smile, put on a happy face that no one bought anyway. No more. If it's the shits, it's the shits. OK, here it is. A couple of days ago I developed a (new) resentment. Resentments are the keys for alcoholics to start the engine again. No, I didn't drink. I didn't really even think about drinking. But everything else was present when a resentment starts to take up the room. Let me see, shame and a feeling that one will never quite get it right, complete loss of self-respect, and little dangerous sounds tinkling in the back of the mind. Now, Tag has put up some Linda Ronstadt and I have 2 biographies to write.


  1. I have a terrible time finding clothes that fit, which is why I put off buying them as long as possible. Particularly pants. No matter how big my gut, there's a stretch between my two hips that doesn't gain weight. If I wear pants a millimeter too high, I pop a button, a millimeter two low--well, better make sure my underwear is clean. Solve the prblem with a belt. Those never fit me, either!

    Didn't know Ex had passed on. Before I became a regular reader of this blog? I always assumed he was still living.

    Did you read Elizabeth's (the one from Australia) recent post about alcohalism? She doesn't like the term alcoholic (me neither: I think it minimizes a person's being), and believes such people had problems before ever taking that first sip. I can believe it. Partly because I've know quite a few people with the problem, and there's always something that drives them to drink. It's never one sip and--oops, you're hooked--like it heroin or something. Partly because I've engaged in addictive behavor. No, not alcohol. Not drugs, either. I can count the times on my right hand that I've smoked a joint, which may make me seem like a bit of a nerd to some people. No, my addictive behavior was behavior in the literal sense of the word. I'm not going to tell you what it was becasue 1.It's a little too painful (the consequences, not the actual behavor)and am still paying (literally) for it 2.I still haven't sorted out what exactly drove me to do it, and 3.Quite frankly, Les, I think you'd be turned off by it. You once described me as a "sensitive male". Well, I'd like to think I was even when I was engaging in such behavor, but, to you, I might come off worse than that pop artist friend of yours. Live a long life, and I might tell you about it 20 years from now.

  2. @ Kirk ~ I thank you for the rich, full comment. I feel like I need to chat with a friend today. I appreciate you.

    For the vast majority of my life, I was (at least) disproportionate and had trouble dressing myself. Right now, in addition to being physically healthy (mostly), I'm about 100% proportionate, so as long as I buy the right size, it should fit everywhere. That's new(ish) business to me. I like it. I work hard for it.

    You were with me when Ex died. Here it is. I wasn't such a plain speaker in those days on blog. Some bloggers figured it out, others knew it from being personally involved with me, others didn't know at all.

    I live at Elisabeth's place. Every post. She understands my disease so well, so humanely. This will sound silly to some, but I think the disease has less to do with that liquid gold, and more to do with the fiber of the human being. Yep, we're flawed. Big old mistake made on the loom when we were woven. We're also seemingly easy to spot. Why did no mental health professional ever say "This is an alcoholic who just hasn't yet found the bottle"? I had some of the behaviors before kindergarten.

    Never, ever tiptoe up to telling me anything you need to keep private. You don't have to tell me a thing. It changes nothing between us. I will say this, as I have taken the first 2 steps (2 of 2 million) on my little learning curve. Some things are so painful we (AAs) don't even make amends for them verbally because to simply say the words is too much for both the harmed party and the AA. We may never figure out the why of some things. Some things just "are".

    I have trouble thinking I could hear anything that would turn me off from you. You see, Kirk, I know a lot about a lot of things and I have the ability to love the person, not what they did. I have to apply that to myself, too. So please, do not tell me. But please, know that you could and not lose me. I'm still stuck on you being a sensitive male. You are. Right here, right now. I don't know what you were yesterday. It doesn't matter. I only care about how you treat me, which has always been "very, very well".

    Thanks for a good talk!

  3. I know there was a lot more to this blog than this, but these are the two things that stand out to me:
    1) my own decision to actually *wear* shorts and skirts this summer. I mean, I've worn them before, but not like, strutting in them. This summer, I intend to strut a little. If not at 33, when? Let's have some fun with our clothes and proportionate bodies.
    2) I have been in a hospital bed, presumably abondoned in the hallway of a hospital, twice. It's awful. And I wasn't even there that long, maybe half an hour each time? But you're stranded, in a gown, can't get up, aren't even in a position to make eye contact with anyone walking by. I assumed my exposed vulnerability was enough to make someone stop and ask if I needed anything, but no. Hospitals need to remember what it's like to be a patient.

  4. @ CramCake ~ Ah, CC this post was about everything and nothing. Who could possibly sort it out into meaningful things? It's as messy as I am today, as scattered as I hope not to be tomorrow.

    I don't strut with shorts or any clothes. In fact, in shorts, I look kind of like an 8-year-old boy with my hair and the small, knock-kneed legs. But I fight for the right to wear them without shame! My body and I are not perfect. But we're OK. People probably don't puke as I walk by. And that's OK enough for me. 7 or 8 years ago, I wouldn't wear them. Veiled, middle eastern women have nothing on me!

    I'm very sensitive with that exposed, vulnerable feeling when out on display. Today I've written about the hospital experience, but I was also outraged about a man who died out in public, an object of curiosity, seated on cold concrete. I didn't know him, but a family member might be hard pressed to feel more outraged on his behalf than I did.

    You got another follower, thereby proving my theories. ;~} He didn't come over to follow me. He thinks I'm gross. But he followed you. And so it goes!

  5. I feel like I have to write a couple of 100 word paragraphs in order to qualify for membership on the bus. What happened to Kirk being short and pithy.
    Don and I shared clothes up until I age 18 when I joined the navy. When I got leave from bootcamp I got home to discover he taken all of them when he moved out of our parents house. I went to the mall in my dress blues to shopfor clothes. I found out that women dig a man with a 13 button fly.
    wv - surdul

  6. @ Tag ~ I thoroughly understand this! I love you, MIke. I dig you, don't you get it?