Friday, November 20, 2015

Bic For Her

Earlier this week I was standing around with a few runners, drinking water and not talking about running.  Talking about running is what many Runners do when they are running.  It is how I know to never call myself a Runner.  Or "not yet," as one Runner told me.   I can't talk about running--yet--for many reasons.  The first is that I can't breathe.  Because I'm running.  But the others are that I have too many "no" answers to questions that would expand a conversation. 

R: "How long have you been running?"

Me:  (gasping)

R: "Do you have any races coming up?"

Me:  (panting) "No."

Other ways I know I am not yet a Runner is that I don't have that watch that beeps, I never know what mile we are on, and headlamps, I don't have one, though every time it is dark, I lurk creepily behind someone who is wearing one so I can see where I am going.  Or else practice running in the dark.  Is that a raccoon or a giant pot hole?  Ouch.  Not a raccoon.  Also, reflective gear, like those criss-cross yellow blinking Safety Patrol belts.  And those water bottles that strap to your hand.  Or your back.  Also, special sneakers.  Or proper clothing.

There are too many signs to keep listing.  The fact that if it is 10 degrees with a windchill of -15, you could not pay me to even contemplate the joy of Running.  "You just need the right clothing," one Runner stated, when I explained my 4 month absence from November through March.  This is where silence is useful, because I really like hot drinks, listening to the wind howl outside my window, and feeling generally glad to be out of the elements.  No amount of Under Armour is going to change that. 

Another tell-tale sign is that I don't understand a 50K.  I don't admire or mock it.  I just don't get it.  I've spent a little bit of time wondering what makes us gravitate toward intentional pain and suffering, with little pay off, and I think that in lieu of living in dangerous environments, we seek out a bit of anguish and physical harm.  And wear beeping watches and blinking lights to help us achieve this goal.

All of these things demonstrate what makes one a R, which is a commitment to something, an attention to the details that maximize the experience, and a goal-focused way of making sure that you are growing in an area that you value.  It's very teaching. 

If you don't have any races coming up and you can't breathe, it makes conversation after the run much more fluid and manageable. 

And sometimes pretty funny. 
Because I gravitate toward others who are similarly unprepared but keep showing up. 
In one such recent conversation, I was "hydrating" (which is a Runner's word for drinking water) and talking to a man and a woman.  The woman was mentioning a yoga class that she goes to, and how she feels bad for always being late. 
"It's like, all peaceful in there and I try to sneak in without being loud but then I'll bump someone or drop my mat and interrupt everything."
I nod my head in sympathy. 
The man is quiet, no nodding.  Then he says, "I like to get there 15 minutes early."  I nod, again, in sympathy.  Too early, too late.  Both can be difficult qualities to embody.
"And," he say, "get my things all lined up. My mat the way I like it, my waterbottle and my blocks and the band," he is physically lining them up with his hands.  It's all organized in his chosen corner and then I imagine this woman tripping over him as she enters the room 30 minutes later.  He tells a tale about a woman who always arrives ahead of him to get the exact same spot in the class, every single time.  This intrigues me the way someone doing a 50K intrigues me. 
"What would happen if someone took her spot?"  I ask.
He thinks it wouldn't be good.
"Have you ever tried?"
"Oh, I wouldn't," he says. 
I would.  Just to see.  This is probably why it's good I don't go to yoga classes.
The yoga conversation continues, and it gets funnier and funnier.  I ask a question and immediately regret it.  I don't know where the question comes from.
"What kind of yoga class is it?" This is my question.  As soon as I ask, I realize:
1. She could make up a name and I wouldn't know the difference
2. I know there are different kinds of yoga, but I don't know what they are, so I'm not sure why I am asking this. 
But no question is ever wasted, because she knows as much as I do, but now the man is trying to guess which kind it is. 
He asks if it is the fast breathing yoga.
"I don't think so," she says, looking like she is playing out the last class in memory to look for any fast breathing.  "You mean, like, deep breathing?"
No.  He means fast breathing.  He demonstrates.  And what he demonstrates is very familiar.  I recall learning it in a natural child birthing class.  He's showing the part of breathing you do during a contraction.
"Are you sure you were in a yoga class?"  I ask.  "That sounds like Lamaze."
"No, it was yoga," he says. 
"Because I can see how you might accidentally enter a Lamaze class and it would be similar to yoga, and the instructor would be pretty laid-back and accepting and would see you practicing labor breathing and would just, you know, encourage you, thinking, 'Well, to each their own.' "
"It was yoga," he says. 

She's not sure the kind of yoga class it is, and so he is guessing: lots of poses?  Fast flowing?   I think of all the information about yoga that has been deposited into my brain by people who say You have to try it and then tell me how they go to rooms where it is 150 degrees and just sweat.  There are the cold Under Armour Runners and the Hot Yoga breathers and the man who is guessing what kind of yoga this woman does says something like, "It roots your soul.  Does she say that in class?"
"Yes!" the woman says. 
And then they are exchanging the many times that soul is referenced during their 60 minute workout class.  "Like, 'Feel your soul flow,' and 'Now s-t-r-e-t-c-h your soul!'" 

I am getting the sense that there are Runners, and those who run, and there are Yogis, and those who do drop in classes.  And the drop-ins don't know why the soul is referenced just as those who run don't have any races lined up.  Yet. 

Somewhere in this post-Running post-running conversation, the woman asked if we had seen a bit done by Ellen DeGeneres on Pens for Women.
I hadn't, but said that that's a funny idea. 
"No, it's real.  These pens made for women, by Bic.  It's called Bic for Her."

Without further ado, fast breathing, or upcoming races, I bring to you, Bic.  For Her

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Changing Lives of Women: Going Blue

In 2013, NPR launched a series titled The Changing Lives of Women.

Today's segment features 85 year old Anne Bernays: novelist, teacher, and blue haired beauty.

"While young people sparkle like diamonds, old folks are invisible — except, as I discovered, if you have bright blue hair."
Well worth the listen.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Alternatively Titled

I heard this on the radio this morning and my brain immediately started retitling the story.

Here are just a few:

I Really Do Read it for the Articles

Why Buy the Cow Magazine When There's The Internet For Free

Naked is as Naked Does  (this one makes no sense, but has a nice ring)

Less is More, and Turtlenecks are Ba-aack

Hugh Hefner: 89 and still sporting a bathrobe everywhere he goes.  God bless him. 

From the story:

Playboy will stop publishing photos of nude women. Its website stopped featuring nudity in August, and traffic has since increased from 4 million to 16 million users a month, according to Playboy executives. 
 --'Playboy' to Stop Publishing Nude Images

What if you were the next model/celebrity/human who was scheduled to appear in the magazine, and then you received a phone call: "Actually, we're all set.  But thanks anyway.  We're going to focus on art and the economy instead."
You'd be calling your agent stat to see if hell had frozen over.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

And Justice for All*

The first time I entered a court room I was in my 20's, had been practicing as a psychotherapist for under a year, and had been summoned to testify as a witness.

A convicted pedophile was requesting permission to coach a children's baseball team. He had served his time, been released, and had had good behavior.

I consulted with the director of my agency, who in the course of his long career working with both child victims of sexual abuse and perpetrators of sexual abuse, had been called to testify in numerous trials, countless times.

He normalized my nervousness, stated that I'd simply be answering questions, and predicted that as soon as this part started, I'd feel at ease.

It turned out to be entirely accurate.

I was asked questions about a child I was seeing in therapy. The child had been molested and raped by the man who sought permission to coach. The man was not some dangerous stranger. As is often the case, he was a relative and trusted member of the family. The abuse went on for two years until it was finally disclosed. The child was so confused, felt guilty, and also, eventually, feared for her life. The trajectory was not an uncommon one: her innocence was the perpetrator's tool in ensuring her silence. As the pain of abuse became increasingly unbearable, she became less compliant and he threatened to hurt her and her family if she told.
(She was 6, then 7, then 8.)
Eventually the truth was disclosed and the miracle was this: her family believed her.
(How many families do not believe, or do nothing when a child is brave enough to speak. It is heart-shattering.  The shame of sexual abuse is so high that many families nothing. )

I answered questions about the wellness of the child.
The child, knowing the perpetrator had been released from jail, had been having recurrent nightmares. He was coming for her, he was going to get her, he was picking her up in his car. She dreamt over and over again of finding herself alone with him, her mouth sewn shut, her throat constricted, a scream that could not emerge.
As he moved toward her, she'd scream herself awake. 
Her aunt would be there by her bed, to say over and over:
"You're okay.  He's not going to get you.  You are safe."

The judge denied the offender's request. The hearing ended.

I reported back that day to the director. I was aglow with thankfulness for how well our legal system worked. Things that happen to the vulnerable should never happen. But here, I'd been able to see a place where the vulnerable were represented, and protected.

"This time," my director said. "It worked this time." And he smiled a weary smile. He was glad it worked this time.

He had testified so many times and he had witnessed so many outcomes.

"You got lucky," he said.

Though I'd taken an oath and reported truthfully, it wasn't the strength of my testimony.

It wasn't our well oiled and finely tuned legal system.

It was roll the dice, see who the judge is, see who the attorneys are, see what the weather is, and see what happens.

Every time you enter a courtroom, he said, roll the dice.
See if you encounter an attorney who will win at any cost, who see children as collateral. 
See how fast ethical conduct is given wings so that it might fly out the window.
See how it goes.

He was glad my first time had been positive.
He was too experienced to believe what I believed at that moment, which was, "It works!"

I've been in the courtroom since then and have come to understand what the seasoned director of the agency was saying.

You enter a courtroom and you roll the dice.

Sometimes you leave a courtroom glad to know that children, who are always vulnerable, are protected.

Other times, you might as well be handed a puddin' pop.

*mostly in the movies  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Please Take This Idea And Run With It

Inspired by this text conversation with a Loved One, who has three children under the age of 5.

Begins with details about a fishing pole:

Me:  They're called Shakespearean poles.  Hope you're feeling better and your fever is gone. 

LO:  Turns out I have pneumonia. 

Me:  Omg pneumonia??

LO: Yeah and George has bronchitis

LO:  We've covered all the respiratory diseases.

Me:  LOL   :(

Me:  Do you need anything?  Juice....broth.....less liquid in your lungs....a nanny

LO:  All of the above

Me:    What about a business that services SAHM/D with kids ages 0-5.  When the parent is sick, they go here;  there is an amazing child care center on one side, and then hotel-like suites on the other and the sick parent goes to the suite and stays from 8 - 5 each day.  And it is covered by insurance. 

LO:  You would make bank


LO:  It'd probably just spread diseases faster

Me:  No because the sick person is Quarantined!!!!

LO:  Hmmm.  We should do this

Me:  Ah know.  (pause to realize I don't actually want to run/own/operate such a business, I simply want it to exist)

As I am writing this, my phone starts pinging repeatedly.  LO is contemplating "logistical red flags." 

Me: Like what?

LO:  Well you'd need a vaccination list for kids ahead of time, then there's allergies, special needs equipment (can't discriminate), transportation if the mom is too sick to drive, then what if the mom gets sicker and needs help


LO: Plus I'm sure we'd need insurance and people would have to sign waivers upon arrival


LO: What if the child is a 5 year old serial killer?


LO:  Stuff like that. 

Well.  Do what you can with it.  I have a few name suggestions if you happen to get such a facility licensed in the near future. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Changing of the Guard

"Something told him that something was coming to an end.  Not the world, exactly.  Just the summer.  There would be other summers, but there would never be one like this.  Ever again."

---Neil Gaiman

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Studies Show

An evidence-based ditty by Honor Finnegan