Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Price of Waiting-

On Sunday night Ed and I were watching some documentary on Adolf Hitler, which essentially are all the same because they are born from the need to figure out what the hell happened. How can a single soul be responsible for all those deaths, leading people not only to be slaughtered but also to become the butchers. All being led like sheep to literal death or the death of a soul not strong enough to overcome the powerful siren call of a hateful demagogue. Saying so much of what people wanted to hear that they forgot he was also a dangerous agitator. This day, in 1944, forever marks the downfall of Hitler's Germany and along with it, the broken seal of his powerful spell on the people in that country. When we, or our fellow allies, look back on World War II it is with pride that we were on the right side. We all helped to destroy on of the worlds greatest evils, but at a cost. We waited, and waited, and waited. We watched, we turned children away seeking safety in our country, we turned away refuges trying to escape the unearned wrath of a crazy megalomaniac hell bent on their destruction. We tucked back into our turtle shell of safety and prosperity when Europe, China, and most of SE Asia were being torn to pieces. We. Waited. And. Waited. Until we were angry enough to say enough is enough. When the destruction and coldblooded killings of our citizens finally and literally hit home. So on this day, the anniversary day of one of the most important battles my nation has ever fought in and won, I am imploring everyone around the world to wait no more.

Today my heart is breaking for the 120+ people, mostly children being slaughtered by Taliban gunmen at a school in Peshawar province in Pakistan. Children in a school. Yesterday Australia experienced its own horror as two citizens, a 38yr old mother of three and a 34 year old young man, lost their lives in a stand off with gunman. Both described as hero's by other hostages, both paid the price of moral uprightness in this world. On one hand you have innocent children, on the other adults with everything to lose, giving it all up to help another. When real life parallels our fantasy, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Lord of the Rings, where innocents and the morally strong are violently offed, there is something wrong and we cannot afford to wait anymore.

Sometimes I am completely and utterly overwhelmed by the evil people that inhabit this world with us. Those are two examples in two days, not counting our recent events in Pennsylvania, or ISIS's latest murder or slaughter. It keeps happening. And here we are waiting, waiting for this shit to get real. I hate to say it, but, it is real. Everyday scores of people all over the world leave their homes seeking out, what they misguidedly feel is a just fight. Falling pray to the siren calls of the likes of ISIS, the Taliban or Al Qaeda who are unfortunately filling the void of a society set on waking early, trudging to work most of the day, and coming home to eat dinner and for what? The promise of a better life, looking to a bright future. We are constantly waiting. Waiting for things to get better. Waiting for things to get worse. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Ironically, what we fail to realize, what our governments fail to realize, what governments all over the world fail to realize, is that the waiting means nothing when we forget to take care of the present.

I will never understand the inaction of man. The inaction of diplomats around the world and the people at will. What are our limits and when will we finally say enough is enough? How many more children have to die in this world, alone and terrified before it finally hits a point where we no longer can come home from work at night, sit down in front of our TV's, eat dinner  and forget about everything that happened that day? When will we be angry enough to end this evil? To finally make a plan, to say something that gives people hope. To help everyone realize that they are not alone in their fight against the evil that we know today. Even if we can't make it to save the innocent that they are not dying in vain, that we know what happens and that we will remember. That someday we will not longer be able to wait. We condemn with weak voices and condone with inaction.
To preserve peace, it has to be the actual goal. That has to be what we are fighting for in the present, whether in our own lives, in our communities or in our wide and tumultuous world. A peaceful future is a better future, a peaceful future is a prosperous future. When will we learn it is not the other way around? Prosperity over peace will always be an algorithm for inaction. Innocents are dying all over the world and at home, I guess in some respects it has always been this way. But, I like to think that sometime, in the near future, enlightenment and mindfulness will win out. We will again form meaningful alliances to end the nightmare we are calling our lives here on earth and really work for peace. Stand together in the name of peace with strong voices, for there are no cultural misunderstanding when it comes to slaughtering innocents. This is my real holiday wish.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Beautful Truth?

     I just read a preview, unfortunately, of a Kim Kardashian interview for the upcoming edition of Elle UK. In that interview she, ah, actually attributes her pregnancy weight gain to God punishing her for her relative hotness. I say relative because, hey, everybody has their prerogatives when it comes to attraction, but this....I can't, I just can't. Left reeling and dumbstruck by this profoundly mindless and ignorant statement, I just can't. But, it really does reflect our societies obsession with "looks." This comes on the heels of an article I also mistakenly read yesterday about an alarming cosmetic procedure where they actually inject botox into ones calves to arrest and therefore shrink the muscle so women with "large" calves can fit into boots. The woman, who was discussing this procedure actually described how she felt about the results as such, "I can fit the boots on now… If you look good, you are treated differently, so I’ll always be interested in strange cosmetic treatments." Is this how many of us feel about all things beautiful? What is it about this very limited view of beauty that we accept, embrace, and/or actually strive for? Do we actually believe this type of beauty equates to power and if so is that a good thing?

      It is funny because this is a topic I have been thinking and wanting to write about for a very long time now, but it feels like this week has possessed the appropriate amount of frustration, amusement, discussion, and reflection on this topic. For starters on Monday, I received a swimsuit ordered online for an upcoming trip. Like any fashion forward DINK Yuppie women in their thirties, I ordered a two piece that can be mixed and matched with existing suits I own. I chose between two bottoms, mostly by staring intently at the models arses to determine which bottom had the most coverage, mostly because well personal preferences (I have a very acceptable fear of wax getting near things where wax just does not belong OK) and I just am not sure I dig the wedgie like nature of those tiny Brazilian bottoms that look oh so sexy on a toned, tanned angel. After much deliberation and staring, I thought I made the right choice. Low and behold I ripped open that package, picked up that tiny bottom and well, immediately gasped, stifled a disbelieving laugh, because wouldn't you know it, they were the damn Brazilian bottoms I worked so hard to avoid. In jest I tried them on, then with much goading, tried them on again for my husband. Despite the laughable nature of how much they did not fit, it struck me that it did not bother me that they did not fit. The first thought that came to mind was the fact that, their sizing is just ridiculous and whatever it is not like I NEEDED to look good in these or any swimsuit for that matter, not the whole self-conscious lament, "OMFG I am so FAT, I cannot believe they do not fit! I need to lose weight, blah, blah, blah!" We so often hear, say or complain to our friends about. I am totally guilty as charged, as well as probably all of my friends. But, neither myself nor my friends are trolls. In fact I know no trolls. I felt good that I did not think that, it was peaceful and nice. We, and by we I mean most women, are so concerned with  how we look so often that we forget to think about how we feel, which effect us more than how we look and ironically effects how we see ourselves.

        Why are we feeling so insecure about ourselves that we will pay thousands of dollars to potentially kill ourselves with a pulmonary embolism from injecting botox into our legs? No one is standing on my door telling me that I should loss the ass pounds that are keeping me from fitting into that unrealistically sized Brazilian bikini bottom, although the length of my torso was also an issue. When I am having a good time on Bondi beach, I am going to be more worried about a shark than what my body looks like in a suit. I know this for a fact because I have taken a lot of beach vacations with friends and family and the last thing I am ever thinking about is how someone looks in their suit. How trivial, even the idea of stressing about our bods in a world full of strife and suffering is about as bizarre as Kim Kardashian's logic about pregnancy weight gain. I get that we women and even some men have what we decided are very real and painful body image issues. We obsess about our body issues. You cannot peruse the internet for even an hour without happening upon a weight loss or "body shaming" article. People have made songs around it, petition companies and models about it. We obsess about this and we place blame on everyone and everything. I understand that these are very real issues for many women, but sometimes I cannot help but think we are giving up a lot of our power to feel alive, good and grateful to forces that are not, well real, for lack of a better term. In addition and ironically in our quest to block out the forces we trivialize others insecurities or issues to make us feel better about ourselves. I do believe it is one of the biggest reason why women are so awful to other women, and it is all just needless. We do not need to feel or do these things. What we need to feel grateful for our health, well being, and ability to live.

       This weeks blog dujour making the rounds I noticed was written by a woman who is amazed by the fact that her husband loves her and wants to do her every morning, despite the fact that her body is, as she believes, destroyed from having children. Now, here is where I would think our rape culture and beauty culture would paradoxically unite to prove to women that men not only will screw pretty much anything (including passed out drugged women resembling a dabble in necrophilia disgustingly) , but actually love us for US. I have never dated a man who liked me only for my looks and I am betting neither has a majority of women and how sad would that be if we did. It is already sad enough that women like Kim Kardashian clearly only find value in their beauty, when I am sure (and I am being charitable here) that they do have other aspects to offer. I would bet my meager life savings that Kanye West loves her more for being a great mother to his child than for her beauty. Additionally, none of my friends are my friends purely for their looks or beauty and I am 100% certain it is vice versa because it is not how any of  us define ourselves. So it bothers me that so many people are hung up on this. It bothers me that we need to hear from another woman whether it be Meghan Trainor, Nicki Minaj, or the woman from the blog that it does not matter if we are not in possession of model like good looks. We have manifested this idea that our bodies are the end all be all, and that it is because society has deemed that they be a certain way, yada yada yada, but in reality the body is nothing but a vessel for our minds and our soul. Feeling healthy and being healthy, being happy and contributing to our families and communities to make them a better place is more important than what we look like. Striving to fit into our self created limited box of what is beautiful is only keeping us from really transcending the non-issues that we let clutter our life and  minds. To be honest I have been stressing about getting rid of 5 pounds for my upcoming trip, but that was perfectly wiped away by actually NOT fitting into those ridiculous bikini bottoms. It is such a habit and struggle for us that we need to really work on not doing this anymore. Truly ugly people, on the inside, are the only ones who actually believe in the religion of vanity. Those people are not important and the voices in our heads are not real. I guarantee no one is standing on your doorstep and if there is someone, they probably just want to talk about a certain bible verse and move on to  your neighbor.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Living with an Undeveloped Frontal Cortex: Being a Teenager

      If I picture myself having a teenage child (and before you get all holy on me, yes all I can do is imagine and I am very well aware that it is totally different than experiencing so no need to lecture me on not "knowing.") I imagine myself being very laid back,  but clear in my expectations, like a french parent. The last time we visited France, we stayed with wonderful friends who had teenage sons at the time. The oldest having spent his adolescence in America, was greatly enjoying the perks of being a youth en France. Room to explore and mess up, yet possessing a restrained and pragmatic responsibility. ( I attribute this to their ridiculously deep curriculum and amazingly mature expectations from most adults involved in their lives) Not that is a perfect notion for everyone, I thoroughly enjoyed  the short time we were there watching him navigate fairly successfully this new terrain, but, his parents were French so of course. With freedom comes expectations, and these kids clearly understood the deal. Funny, but, it is kind of how Cher Horowitz in "Clueless" behaves and understands the world. Summed up best when she drops this actually poignant line to her friend about drugs. "It is one thing to spark up a doobie and get laced at parties, but it is quite another to be fried all day."  That sentiment can be applied to everything and anything. It is a fine line for children lacking fully developed brains to comprehend, there for as adults, we simply have to take the lead, teach, and be authority figures.

       I say this from a place of love, of worry, and of complete and total annoyance. For any adult who frequents the music scene, the sight of teenagers at shows and festivals has become so prevalent you sometimes wonder if you accidentally happened upon a One Direction concert. Low and behold you are then completely bowled over by much of their behavior, the fact that they are unsupervised, only compounded by what their parents actually let them leave the house dressed like Julia Robers in "Pretty Woman" and not after the rich guy buys her a new wardrobe. Neigh, these are not dens of sin or mass orgies, but they are certainly not wholesome either. For example last night, I attended a show with my sister-in-law ans her husband where there were 5 bands playing. By the time the 5th and final band made it out, not only was in 11:30 pm on a school night, the lead singer was so trashed and high there were parts of songs he could not even muster enough "together-ness" to sing. We could not ever pin-point what he possibly could have been on. He was up, down and all around. Additionally, there was enough magical smoke wafting around to  induce even the most practiced burn-out into a slight high. Multiple fights almost broke out, liquor was flowing and here is what gets me, parents of teenage girls, there are very much predictors attending these events. If I know this problem exist, you best believe they look forward to it. Teenage girls in their short, high waist shorts, replete with crop or bra top, (surprisingly winter or summer) drunk on stolen liquor (probably from your own cabinets) losing all sense of control or awareness of their surroundings. If I was a male or female pervert I would be there loving every second of it looking for my next victim. It bothers me intensely that these teenagers, behaving irresponsibly are left to fend for themselves. WE HAVE A RAPE CULTURE PROBLEM FROM HIGH SCHOOL ON PEOPLE! 

         I am not easily shocked nor impressed by other people and their behavior. I also get that kids will be kids, if you knew me in high school. But, last summer was my first and last time at Lollapalooza, despite knowing and loving most of the bands that play. I will never spend that much money only to encounter the teenage debauchery that currently resides at that festival. It is not isolated, it infiltrates Grant Park the whole time. From the idiots openly smoking a joint, to those so drunk they pee and vomit on themselves, nary a parental unit in sight. Just last night a group of what looked to be your typical suburban lanky blonds, decked out in teenager mandatory show uniform, were kindly escorted out by security after their drunken antics alienated everyone surrounding them.  I tell you, if I got that call at 10:30 on a school night you better believe that daughter will not see the light of day except to and from school until well into the new year. Here is the thing, they were warned multiple times, by multiple adults surrounding them that if they did not amend their behavior action would be taken. It was answered with a scoff and eye-roll. They clearly have not seen "Clueless", nor were raised by the French. They were obtuse. They were obtuse because they are teenagers. They are obtuse because they do not have fully developed brains and they need guidance, no matter how much they believe otherwise. I cannot impart enough that we need to stop being friends with our teenage population and start behaving like the authority figures we as adults are. Had I or any adult surround those kids been of a different mindset, their parents would have gotten a much different call at the end of the night.

        There were examples of amazingly behaved teenagers who were at the show last night, as well as many other shows I have been to, who are clearly there for the music. They keep to themselves, they are aware and are getting an amazing experience. There were also parents present clearly accompanying minors, but for everyone of those there is a group with no supervision behaving so stupid it is surprising evolution has not swooped in yet. Even if you have the best teenager in the world, you cannot control what other people do around them, but we can do a better job of preparing them to remain safe and I am just not seeing that. You cannot give freedom without guidance and expectation. I am not sure what grinds me the most, the fact that I am paying for my ticket and would like to enjoy the show without seeing a teenager on the verge of being assaulted, vomiting on themselves, talking loudly, taking selfies and not listening to the show. Or the notion that Mom and Dad willingly bought them a ticket, sent them on their way, oblivious to the dangers of a standing room only, general admission show, especially when the teenage son or daughter has every intention of getting completely plowed during their outing. It is one thing (though totally not much better) to drop your kiddie off at a stadium show with assigned seats, but it is another to let them roam around pit of sweating, inebriated bodies with reckless drunken abandon. I truly feel like parents in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs believe the two weekends Lollapalooza comes to town is an awesome vacation for them without their kids. Get them their weekend passes, send them on a train with a hundo, and let them fend for themselves. I was an awful teenager, by all means there was no perfection from me, but my mother and father just said NO because they knew me. Which is why I am pretty sure I am where I am today. Alive with not much mental damage. When I got to college my freshman year, my older sister also kindly told me NO to many things I wanted to do. I will leave you with a saying from her, it was a night that I wanted her to go to a bar I could sneak into, instead of the more strict one her and her friends were going to, it has stuck with me for the rest of my life. "Sometimes there are things in life that you want to do, that you just cannot or have to wait for."