Gravity is a Cruel, Cruel Mistress


As I was growing up, my mom, bless her soul, had some pretty strong aspirations for her daughters. Mainly, she wanted both my sister and me to be strong, healthy and graceful girls.

This is an admirable wish.

So to that end, both my sissy and I attended dance classes regularly, learning ballet, tap and jazz (yes, I learned how to make perfect jazz hands).

Blessed from an early age with sturdy thighs and broad German hips, I was what might be called “stocky.” This whole dancing thing was a bit tougher for me than it was for the lithe little girls who also attended the dance classes.

That said, I danced and it was not so bad. I was a damn fine tap dancer in my day, actually. I could shuffle-off-to-buffalo like nobody’s business! (Google it, that’s actually a tap dancing term)

At some point, I don’t know how it came about, but it was agreed that I would start taking gymnastics classes at the local YMCA.

Well, this was quite a step up in the game. Gymnastics! Whoa!

Ok, let’s go back to the sturdy thighs and broad German hips thing…my center of gravity is rather low. This is a good thing for lifting things and staying on the planet.

However, that “staying on the planet” aspect is quite the hindrance to the goal of gymnastics activities which often involve leaving the ground.

In hindsight, I did ok on balance beam. I was actually not that bad on the uneven bars.

But the floor routines were another story entirely.

Cartwheels? Yes!

Backbends. Sure. I’m all over them.

Flips? Er. Not so much.

I’d come thundering down the mat, do the hop, attempt to flip forward and wind up lying on the mat in a tangled mess of limbs and lycra spandex.

Next I’d try to do that big hop and tuck to make a back flip work, and would end up in a similar state.

A back flip on the balance beam? Oh please, I never even tried.

It was kind of hard on the ol’ self esteem back then that all these other girls could flip through the air with the greatest of ease while I stayed firmly grounded.

Over the years I’ve become a bit more circumspect. Gravity is one of those laws that, unless you are an astronaut, you just can’t break. These days I tend to allow all due deference to that bitchy Mistress Gravity. She’s always going to win.

Today’s theme for Theme Thursday is flip.

Photo by Charlie Balch and used royalty free from stock.xchng.

Can’t Handle The Pressure


The celebration of New Year’s 2011 was an interesting one, at least from my perspective.

It’s no secret that times have been a little rough for the past, oh, three or so years, but on December 31, 2010, there seemed to be a lot of optimism.

The general tone of the tweets, articles and conversations I experienced was that 2010 was over, and expectations were very high for a good 2011.

Even I fell into this category, being as suggestible as I am. It felt SO good to cast off what was, but a most accounts, a crappy year and turn my face to a new year that could hold so much joy, healing and peace.

Wipe the slate clean. Start again. The market is coming up a little. Jobless rate is going down a little. It seemed like more people had jobs and a bit more money to celebrate the holidays.

These are all good trends. Heck yeah, 2011! Bring us something good!

Today, the seventeenth day of January, it feels like folks have become a little impatient.

Where is my something good? Bring it to me already!

The credit card statements are rolling in, and those fun holiday celebrations are demanding they be paid off.

A few more people have jobs, but I can’t see that any more people are particularly happy with their jobs. It is, after all, still called “work”, as much as I’d like to get up in the morning and go to “fun” all day long.

Then there was that horrifying event down in Tuscon which not only ripped apart a community, but also became fodder for the harrumphing heads (<--like a talking head only wind-baggier). The news doesn't seem happier. People don't seem happier. Things are improving, but slowly. This weekend I started looking around at my fellow man and realized something. Everyone is pissed off. There is rudeness abounding, people saying shitty things, and today at the grocery story, something went down between the checker and a customer that ended up being taken outside. At the grocery store. Ay god. Then we came home from the store to see a police car sitting on our block in front of a neighbor's house. What the f--- is going on around here? I'd like to blame my own neighborhood and say "eh, it's just turning bad" but I'm not sure that's it's just happening here. I think people are fed up. Maybe, just maybe, we've put too much pressure on 2011 to be the panacea for all of the residual worries, anger and sadness from the great recession. One month into one year cannot fix all that came before. Maybe let's give both 2011 and each other a break, ok? We've got a lot of days left to go in this year. Who knows what 2011 has up its sleeve for, say, April? Or August? Ya just never know. I still believe in you 2011. You won't let us down. Right?

Time Has A Funny Way…


There is an episode of Futurama (oh god, I’m going to quote Futurama) called “How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back.” It happens to be my favorite Futurama episode ever.

The episode is an homage to the bureaucrat, which appeals to me in a weird and sadistic way. At one point, the head bureaucrat is inspecting the locker of Fry, the show’s ne’er do well.

The bureaucrat extracts a baseball cap from Fry’s locker, and says, “Why is there yogurt in this hat?”

Fry replies, “I can explain. See it used to be milk, and…well, time makes fools of us all!”

This quote, “time makes fools of us all” has become a fave with The Good Man and me. Oft quoted and certainly true, time does make fools of us all.

And here’s what’s got me thinking this way…

After being sick both in October and for the first two weeks of November, I have been unable to shake a powerful and chronic cough. The gasping, almost retching, cannot-catch-my-breath sort of cough.

After being commanded by both The Good Man and my coworkers, on Friday I went to see a doctor. She was convinced I had Whooping Cough until she noted on my chart that I’d had a tetanus shot earlier this year. These days a Whooping Cough booster comes along with a tetanus shot.

So, after ruling out Whooping Cough and giving my non-stop cough a good listen, my doctor has determined that I have developed “hypersensitive airways.”

In laymen’s terms this means I now have asthma. I’ve never had asthma a day in my life, but evidently you can develop this problem at any time. It’s not expected to become a permanent condition, and with medication, I should be able to recover.

My medication takes the form of an inhaler used four times a day, a regimen I’m not enjoying in the least, but I’m sticking to quite adamantly.

You see, this health issue comes with a heavy load of baggage. Like back the truck up, get a U-Haul, step aside, “damn that’s a lot of baggage” sort of heavy.

Almost six years ago, my father passed away from complications of pulmonary fibrosis. It is believed he obtained this condition from the inhalation of beryllium in the course of his career at Sandia Labs.

In the years before he passed away, I watched my father struggle to simply breathe. Just bringing enough oxygen to his scarred and battered lungs was a battle. It was heartrending.

I thought then, “your breath is nothing to take for granted.” But then time moved on. I went on about the matters of living my life. The lesson became less important.

This year when I got a winter cold, I got the resulting cough but I ignored it. I coughed my way through it and it went away, mostly.

Then I got sick again and it went right to my chest and set up home.

Right now, typing this, I breathe with a wheeze. I’m able to get air into my lungs, but it’s hard to breathe deep without dissolving into a coughing fit.

What my father had was a disease of the lungs. What I have is a temporary inflammation of my airways. It’s not the same, I know. But right now I kind of feel like time has made a fool of me.

I know better. Perhaps the lesson needed to be learned again.

Professor Time comes with a reminder: Breathing is nothing to take for granted.

Photo by Maria Herrera and provided royalty free from stock.xchng.

How Do I Choose?


Going to get a little high minded for a Friday. I was presented with another blog post suggestion and this one poses quite a challenge. The assignment? A blog post sharing my top ten favorite works of art.

This is not an easy task. It is hard to come up with ten. It is hard to keep it to just ten. How does one choose from among all the works that touch my soul? Do I go with popular stuff? Do I go with less mainstream stuff?

And then, how does one find photos on the web that even come close to showing the magic of the work?

With much fussing and hand wringing, I’ve arrived at my list of ten. I’m sure the moment I hit “publish” I’ll change my mind.

All but one of these items I have seen in person, and they stand out to me as show-stoppers. Items of art that made me step back, sit down, or stare transfixed (or all three).

Here we go, in no particular order:

Starry Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh is, hands down, my favorite artist. I blame this on a high school English teacher who introduced me to his work.

The stabbing, slashing paint strokes appeal to me, and his pain on display, even in a pretty painting of flowers resonates with me. When I saw this painting in person at the MoMA in New York, I cried. Not just wept a little, I bawled. I’d been seeing The Good Man only six months at that point and yet he didn’t think I was weird. That *is* a good man.

Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt

This was a new friend I made at New York’s MoMA. After crying my eyes out over Van Gogh, I didn’t imagine I’d be able to learn to love any other art works that day. I was wrong. I’m not generally a fan of Klimt, but this painting was so engaging, it couldn’t be ignored. I go back and look at it pretty frequently while online. There is incredible detail in every square inch of this work.

Masked Ball at the Opera by Eduard Manet

I saw this at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC back in the late 1990’s. I’ve found no photograph since that does the painting any justice. When you see this work in person, it’s painted in such a way that you feel like you are at the party. You can see the folds and wrinkles in the clothing of the other guests. You smile, you frown. They smile and frown back. You are there, in the room, at the party. It’s fascinating.

I stared at this painting for about an hour and still had a hard time tearing my eyes away.

Mourner Costume by Henri Matisse

I’m actually not much of a fan of Matisse’s work. His torn paper work for which he’s so famous rates only a “meh” from me. When I saw the permanent Matisse exhibit at National Gallery of Art it was mostly his paper works, so I walked through pretty quickly. I was about to leave when my eyes fell on this garment.

It’s torn paper style done with fabric. In this photo, it looks sort of dull and unimaginative. In person, it’s enchanting. The memories of this work of art have stayed with me for years. One day I’d love to try my hand at a cloth work inspired by this:

Dizziness by Iman Maleki

This is the only one I haven’t seen in person. I found it via the Art Gallery app on the iPhone and I’m utterly fascinated by this painting. It’s my wallpaper on the phone and I can stare at it and see something new every time. I feel some sort of kinship with the man in the work and I’m not sure why.

Los Dos Fridas by Frida Kahlo

It was hard to choose from among the Frida paintings as I love them all. In order to choose, I thought back to the exhibit of her work I’d attended at the De Young in San Francisco . I thought about the one work I spent the most time with. It was this one.

La Pistola y El Corazon by George Yepes

There are actually two versions of this painting, one completed in 1989 and one in 2000. It is the 1989 version that is featured on the Los Lobos album of the same name. Sadly, that painting, owned by Sean Penn, burned in a house fire.

George Yepes created a new version of the painting, however, the 1989 version is my favorite. It’s darker and more intense. The second seems, to me, like only a riff on the original.

Room on the Verge by Patssi Valdez

I saw this work at the Chicano Visions exhibit at the De Young in San Francisco. The whimsy, the darkness, the movement of this work just drew me in. I sat down on the floor (no chairs or benches) and stared at it.

My fellow gallery goers looked at me like I’d lost my mind. I didn’t care. I wished I had five more eyes so I could to take in more of this painting all at once.

It’s gorgeous.

Jean D’aire, Burgher of Calais by August Rodin

I have an intense love for Rodin’s work and it all speaks to me of hard work and sadness and endurance. I discovered this particular work at the Cantor Center for Visual Arts on the Stanford Campus and it’s the one that sticks with me.

It was as part of a photography class that I was introduced to the Rodin Sculpture Garden, and I tried and tried to photograph the very serious faced Burgher. I have one photo that is pretty good, but it is only of his face. This photo shows the entire statue. He is the very definition of pathos.

Rose and Driftwood by Ansel Adams

I saw this at an Ansel Adams exhibit at the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas. The Good Man was there on business for a trade show, so I entertained myself during the days while he worked. I’d seen a lot of Adams before I took in this show, but somehow this little work had escaped my notice. I walked by it the first time and did a cartoon head whip like “whaaaaa?”

I stood in front of it and stared and stared and got lost in the depth of the woodgrain. It’s spectacular. It’s a gorgeous simplicity that is so hard to accomplish.

Whew…walking through all of this has left me exhausted. In a good way.

Now I need a nap and a vodka drink, not necessarily in that order.

Word of the day: Obdurate


ob·du·rate   [ob-doo-rit, -dyoo-] –adjective

1. unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubborn; unyielding.
2. stubbornly resistant to moral influence; persistently impenitent: an obdurate sinner.

Ah obdurate. How I embody you so.

This word crossed my path again yesterday while watching an episode of Jeeves & Wooster, a fun British show that dates back to the early 90’s. The PG Wodehouse books date back much farther than that, some written in the early 1900’s and now in public domain (thus all loaded up on my Kindle!).

The Good Man introduced me to Jeeves & Wooster and I’m now hopelessly in love.

I love language and words, and Wodehouse certainly had a way with the Queen’s English.

So I sort of chuckled this morning when I turned to my blog idea generator, and this was the suggestion:

“When other people tell me what to do….”

Answer: I become obdurate.

I’m not proud of it. It’s just in my nature.

As the third of three kids born to a very smart and very in control family, I was “the baby” and thus everyone just, you know, told me what to do.

This certainly got me past many a hazard in my infancy, but there came a time, I don’t know what age, when damnit, I was tired of being told what to do!

So much so, that being told what to do made me act out.

It’s a trait that’s carried through to adulthood. In fact, it only became more deeply entrenched an increased in velocity.

One would think that this would make me a very bad employee. Actually, when it comes to managers I like and respect, I have no trouble being told what to do in the workplace.

No, Madame Obdurate is more of a home life kind of gal.

Which makes friends, family and loved ones *ever* so happy.

I find my tendency to dig in when someone tells me what to do really isn’t all that unique. It’s pretty much a go-to for most of us.

Because we’re all special little snowflakes, we want to do things our own damn way and I don’t care what you say and pa-tooey!


As I often say to my friends, you don’t have to be free of your emotional baggage, you just have to be self-aware about it.

See how I reel ’em in? Look at that face? Would she harm a fly? No, I don’t think so. But tell her what to do and WHAMMO! Obdurate all up in your grille!