“Be Content to Seem What You Really Are.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

Light of the Harem 1880 Frederic Lord Leighton

“Light of the Harem,” by Frederic Leighton (1880)

 

“And it is me who is my enemy
Me who beats me up
Me who makes the monsters
Me who strips my confidence” ~
Paula Cole, “Me” 

Well, I finished two Ann Rule books since Friday night, and I have partially sated my book craving.  In case you are unfamiliar, Rule writes true crime novels, but she eschews high-profile cases, choosing instead to focus on stories with which more people can relate. Many of her books deal with women who have been terrorized and eventually killed by their husbands/boyfriends.

too late to say goodbyeI reread Every Breath You Take, which is the story of Sheila Blackthorne Bellush and her compulsive, possessive, arrogant ex-husband Allen Blackthorne. I also reread Too Late to Say Goodbye, the story of Jenn Corbin and her dentist husband Bart Corbin, who almost got away with two murders by fashioning them to look like suicides. 

I’m not giving anything away with these very brief summaries. The reader always knows the basic characters and the barebones’ scenario when approaching an Ann Rule book. But what makes Rule’s books well-written as opposed to sensationalistic is that she delves deeply into character and background and takes the reader through years of material. One of her first books was The Stranger Beside Me, about serial killer Ted Bundy. As it turns out, Bundy worked with Rule at a crisis center long before he was disclosed as the prolific killer of young brunette women in over three states.

I have read a few other true crime novels, but they never seem to equal the quality of Rule’s work, most depending upon the more lurid aspects of a crime to draw the reader in. I’m interested in the psychology behind these people: their early lives, events that shaped them. Anyway, Corey is on a search for more Ann Rule books in the storage bins.

“It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” ~ Sir Edmund Hillary 

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I pay attention to my stats, not just the numbers, but what people are reading. It’s actually pretty interesting, to me, at least. I have two posts that almost always show up in my stats, and both of them have to do with beauty. I wonder why that is, exactly . . . I have reread these posts, and my main point in both of them is that women have unrealistic role models held up for emulation and that we are constantly bombarded to become thinner, more regular, less bloated, have whiter teeth, be more effective at cleaning our houses and to shop wisely.

the-biggest-loserIt’s a bunch of whooey. How many commercials are on prime time television telling young, impressionable women to further their educations, be self-reliant, believe in themselves just the way they are? None. Zero. Instead, we have television programs about people trying to lose weight and get in shape because their lives will continue to be less than ideal if they don’t. Witness, “The Biggest Loser,” “Celebrity Fit Club,” “Diet Tribe,” “I Can Make You Thin.” Well gee, if I had a personal chef to cook low-calorie weight loss meals, and a personal trainer, and that was the only thing that I did in my life for months and months, I’ll bet that I would lose weight too.

Don’t misunderstand: I know that obesity is one of the fastest-growing problems facing Americans, especially young Americans. Obesity, which can lead to a world of health problems, very often arises because people are not taught early how to eat correctly, or eat too much fast food, or foods that are high in saturated fats or overly processed foods in which the nutrients have been leeched out during the cooking and canning.

And then there is the whole problem of not exercising. I know all too well that not exercising, even walking, can be detrimental to individuals who have family propensities for diabetes, heart conditions, and other disorders and diseases. But as a nation, we do not exercise, not like other, more health-conscience nations.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt 

What I have a problem with is how we as a society continue to perpetuate the theory that being slender is the end-all and be-all without acknowledging that just losing weight is not necessarily going to change a person’s life. For me, I know that I would feel better physically and mentally if I lost some weight, but I don’t have delusions that I am ever again going to weigh what I weighed in my 20’s. But what bothers me is my inability to accept myself until I lose this unspecified number of pounds, as if, somehow, I am going to be a different person when I achieve this goal. Truth is, I am still going to be me—for better or worse—me.

elemis-ultimate-pro-collagen-collection
Yet another expensive collagen beauty regimen for women

I hate that about myself. I really do, especially because it falls right into that trap that women must be optimum in order to be happy. I mean, I have had all of the courses about empowerment and the psychology and sociology behind what makes women women, yet even armed with that knowledge, I am still easy prey for ads that promise to burn stomach fat. Why???

Why do women who are otherwise secure about their intelligence, experienced in life and all of its pitfalls and nadirs, continue to allow themselves to keep a number in the back of their mind: If I can just reach X pounds, if I can just lost X pounds, then everything will be all right . . .

Obviously, I am not the person to ask because no matter how much I rail against socialization and unreal expectations, I am still smack in the middle of it. I buy this mascara because it will make my lashes longer and fuller. I use this body wash because it will keep my skin soft (well, actually, that one isn’t true. I buy based on smell). I use this moisturizer because it will replace my collagen (that one is true).
 
Why do I do these things to myself? Conditioning. My mother. My insecurities.  The weather . . . yes, it’s that variable and that illogical.  Want to know a dirty little secret? I think that if I had the money, I might already have had some work done to my neck, my arms, my belly, and the fact that I know this makes me a little ill because I swore that I would never be my mother, who began having plastic surgery in her 40’s.

“The man who trims himself to suit everybody will soon whittle himself away.” ~ Charles Schwab

Do I ever sit here and think to myself, “I’m a great woman. I’m smart. Relatively witty. Talented, somewhat”? Of course I don’t. I search the mirror each morning to see if any wrinkles have appeared. I play with my neck to see how unfirm it is because my mother has pulled at my neck since I was young, telling me that I need to be careful of my double chins, which I now lovingly (not) refer to as my sixteen chins. If I really want to torture myself, I turn sideways to see how large my belly looks at the moment. 

janicedickinson2
Janice Dickinson: Plastic Surgery Queen

I can say, with all truthfulness, though, that my desires stem not from an attempt to look younger, just thinner. I really don’t like the way that women who have had a lot of work done look, with their taut cheekbones stretched to their ears. Kind of reminds me of Klingons, as in that’s just not normal.

So my rational self says BEH to all of the societal conditioning and yearning for no double chins. My emotional self says, well, maybe just a little. How bizarre. How utterly inane and yet complex. I know but I feel. Descartes never said that. Do you know why? Because he was a man . . .

Enough of this blather. I hate it when I dwell on this.

More later. Peace.

Paula Cole singing her beautiful song “Me”

 

So How’s That Project Going?

About That Timeline Thing . . .

It’s Thursdsmall-christmas-treeay and That Means Christmas Cards

Okay, so according to my timeline, I should have the dining room finished, the new table up, the shopping finished, the outside decorations up, and be well on my way to doing the Christmas cards and starting the wrapping of presents. Right? So to bring you up to date, this is where we are . . . . . . . . I would insert the sound of crickets chirping here, but that would take too much time.

The dining room is not yet finished: The fine china has yet to be packed. There is still one corner that has not been cleaned, and the printer has not been moved off the small table to make room to move the buffet out and to my mother’s house and the new table into the dining room.

All of the miscellaneous donations have not been taken to the thrift store; therefore, the house has not been vacuumed, which means that the tree has not been put together. The weather was warm for a day, but the outside lights did not go up. None of the decorations or wrapping paper and bows have been brought down from the attic, so that answers the question on the status of those two items.

flaming-june-by-leighton
"Flaming June" by Frederic Leighton, oil on canvas

I have finished most of my shopping, except for ordering the online items, which should have been done first; however, since I lost my wallet, I don’t know that I’ll be able to do that part of my shopping, which means that one of my sons will have no presents, but the other son will, as will my daughter. Try explaining that one . . . No cards have been addressed. No presents have been wrapped.  And in fact, the house is more cluttered now because I have brought in more things, but we have not taken out anything. Go figure.

This is what I have done since Monday: I’ve had a doctor’s appointment on Monday with my primary care physician at which I learned that I’ve gained weight (hooray, wonderful, let’s eat more holiday food), and I was chastized for letting my two most important meds run out because of lack of funds. They drained vials of blood and made an appointment for me to come back in three months. After that upbeat appointment, Corey and I spent about five hours Christmas shopping, trying to be very frugal with our funds, limiting the stores that we went to, but still managing to spend money. I came home exhausted and fell face first into bed. My entire body hurt everywhere.

I checked up on my friend’s eight-week-old niece who is in the hospital with a lung infection. I have to tell you that this particular situation is really freaking me out. Having a close friend who has a baby relative in the hospital always makes me freak out. It’s just too close to home. I don’t like it. I relive things. Luckily, she is improving, and they (those in charge) are hoping for good changes in the next couple of days.

On Tuesday, I took my youngest son to a doctor’s appointment, and then he agreed to go with me to finish my Christmas shopping. Brett does not usually like to do extended outings with me, so I took him up on this offer. Corey was supposed to finish the dining room while we were out. Brett and I were out for almost seven hours, long enough for a Chick fil ‘a (sp?) lunch and Krispy Kreme donuts for him, Starbucks for me. We found some really good deals, and I stuck to my list, mostly.

We came home to what I thought would be a finished dining room, only to find out that Corey wanted me to come home so quickly because his cigarettes were in the truck and he didn’t have any at home. Dining room unfinished. Entire body hurt. Fell into bed face first, and didn’t write a blog for the first night in December. Hurt too bad to notice or care.

Wednesday saga already written about so not going into that again. Thursday’s schedule: appointment at 9:45 a.m. Friday’s schedule: dr.’s appointment at 9:45 a.m.  Still have to buy Christmas stamps for cards. Still have to mail package to Lima, Ohio for Corey’s parents. Really would like to get it there for Christmas this year so that his parents don’t think that we have completely forgotten about them. But that means finding a box and going to the post office. Yuck. Hate that. Always a line.

Forgot to get all of the stocking stuffers in my 16 hours of shopping. Still have to make a stocking for Tillie. Of course the dogs have their own stockings. What kind of humans do you think that we are that our dogs wouldn’t have their own personalized stockings? I’m not making Shakes wear his Santa hat this Christmas except maybe on Christmas morning. Promise to take pictures and post them. Tillie is wearing a jingle bell collar. She’s not sure she likes it, though.

I’m really hoping that at some point tomorrow, I can get the dining room finished and get started on the tree. Brett has agreed to attempt to wrap the lights on the tree for me this year. Don’t know how I talked him into that, but I’ve decided to shut my mouth and be happy with however he does it because the reality is that I cannot possibly do it without putting myself into traction between the back and the useless arm. I think that he agreed to do the lights since I agreed to use clear lights on the tree instead of colored lights. Usually we use colored lights inside, but I agreed to clear this year.

See, I can be amenable to change. I don’t always have to have things my way. Of course, it’s easier if you ask me for something when I’m too tired to put up a fight. Then I’ll pretty much say yes to anything because I’m not really paying attention, and you can hold me to it the next day. Just preface it by saying, “but Mom, you said last night that you would . . .” or “but honey, you said last night that . . .” and there really isn’t much that I can do because once I’m in this heightened state of exhaustion, everyone in the family knows that I’m like that poker player with a glaring tell: easy to bet against. And I can have a complete conversation with you on the phone while I’m asleep, be completely cogent-sounding, and not remember a single thing. Now that’s scary, not to mention a bit unsettling—for me, that is.

A Few of My Favorite Things

scrooge-coverHere are a few things that I love about this time of the year because you can only find or get them now:

  • Starbucks Christmas blend coffee;
  • Starbucks gingerbread loaf with cream cheese icing;
  • Red and green peanut M&M’s (they’re just cuter);
  • Corey likes the Little Debbie Christmas tree cakes (too sweet for me);
  • All of the Lindor truffles are easy to find;
  • I get to watch Scrooge with Albert Finney while I wrap presents
  • Getting Christmas cards in the mail (I still love to receive them, but very few people actually send them any more);
  • Christmas stockings (everyone in the family has a homemade stocking, and finding out what is in your stocking on Christmas morning is always a surprise);
  • The candy cane-shaped holder full of mini Reese’s cups
  • And best of all, Christmas carols on the radio all day on Christmas day
  • I’ll let you know more later on how the whole timeline thing is going.

    Peace.