Let’s Do the Math and Stop Being Multiplying

I’m beginning to get curious as to why there is this idea every human has the right to reproduce. I read “The Population Bomb” in high school, and I thought it made perfect sense. From Malthus to Helen Caldicott, I am not the first to think of the fact the world might be a better place if we stopped making new children for awhile, say 10 years minimum. We could take of the ones we already have, old people, poor people, EVERYONE in existence, and basically stop destroying our planet.

lately I’ve been hearing this supposed quote of Einstein about how we need to change our thinking since the atomic bomb was invented, and what I believe he means is that we need to unify as a world species and stop acting stupid. All the wars, all the atrocities happen because there is competition for resources and power and we have allowed crazy people to do massively insane things like build nuclear power plants and weapons manufacturers and dealers run the world.

We suffer as a species and a world from a strange myopia around changing anything. Most of what runs our society is stuff someone once thought was a good idea, and then it became a very bad idea that was not working anymore and we cling to it with a death grip.
I’m no different from anyone else on that account, I actually hate change of any kind, and that is why I can’t get my goddess blessed internet passwords down and saved in an accessible place and I keep locking my keys in my car though I have 2 spare sets to prevent such a thing.

People, we have essentially arrived at that place where we need to unify as a world species and decide if we want to have a planet we can live on or not. I don’t begin to imagine we should outlaw sex or tell people they can’t reproduce, because the desire to is gi-normous and will not be heeded for a moment. I think we need to make it a global mandate and ASK all the human beings in the world to prevent new pregnancies( YES, IT CAN BE DONE) by realizing overpopulation is one of the reasons why we are losing our planet for everyone.

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Mrs. Potato Head Goes Clubbell

Today I had my second training session with my coach in clubbell use. She has never done clubbells but is such an excellent coach that she’s already figured out how to train me and is doing it well. She’s a little titan, a slinger of the “Bulgarian Bag”, a black belt in BJJ and karate.I’m a freaking genius for hiring her and immensely lucky to have her.

I’m scheduled to go to southern California in a month from now and attempt to become certified in Clubbell instruction by the one, the only, the prolific Mr. Scott Sonnon and his sister pair of women Clubbell Mongers, Emily and Angelea Fisher. There is a good chance I will not pass, but if I wasn’t going to the workshop, I wouldn’t have the incentive to actually learn how to do the clubbells, hire a coach and so on, so I’m doing it anyway.

The funny thing is, I have no idea if it’s actually possible for me to do clubbells or not. In the mirror, I look like a tall Oompa Loompa with a pin head, but with a good haircut that has highlights. I’m bumpy, lumpy and I jiggle in the lower 40, midriff, and upper arms. After building up a sort of visual denial filter of “not so bad”, my actual form is comical to me. But then there is the danger of swinging the clubbells…..I could in fact take out one of my kneecaps with those things if I don’t stay focused.

But I know that once I do the moves enough, my body will take them on and adjust, take them in. So far I have no pain in my right shoulder or anywhere else and I actually hefted the 10 pounders today. I’m remembering I was able to come in and do three months of BJJ classes without freaking out, so this may in fact lead me to something good. My real goal is joint health and flexibility and interesting ways that maintain or build it I can do with other people.

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My Life as a “Cuute” 60 Year Old Boy

I recently got a very short haircut. It’s shorter than it’s been since birth, probably. The only way it could be shorter is if I shaved my head. I have a tiny thatch of streaked hair on top of my head, and a sort of very short fuzz around the sides and back. I have a new haircutter, and this rather good looking young woman has an instinct for cutting my hair which has blown my mind.

I’ve only had my hair cut by her twice, and both times the “do” has proven to be attractive to other people. I get nothing but compliments, though to me I look like a wrinkled little boy in the mirror. With my hair so short, there is nothing hidden: jowls, wrinkles, blotches, discolorations and so on are right out there in the open. People tell me I am cute and I don’t get offended.

I personally love having short hair because there is no fuss. no muss, no hairspray, gel, combing or whatever. I am spared dealing with my very fine, limp, nearly translucent when clean, pale ash brown hair. I’m about to turn 60, and I seem to be going back in time to when I was a happy kid who didn’t have to worry about looking feminine. My mother didn’t think I looked feminine, and she used to tell me to unbutton my top button so “people won’t think you are a lesbian”.

I’ve never been a lesbian, but I have never liked all the over sexualized pressures that are put on women to dress and be obsessed with looks their entire lives. To me it is mostly bullshit, and I have been lucky to live in an age when there is less punishment for women who don’t conform to either the madonna or vixen role costuming.

The ironic thing happening is that I feel as thought the clock is going backwards, that I’m growing younger, instead of older. And yet I am glad I am not young, because actually being younger is not a state I felt safe in. I certainly don’t feel all-wise or particularly safe now, but I’m wise enough and more able to accept the good and the bad of being alive.

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Grrls, Feminists, and the W Word

Lately I’ve become aware of the fact that the word “woman” is not a popular word in our culture. More often than not, we females are referred to as “girls”. This word is tossed about as though it is some sort of peppy little compliment and the W word (woman) is somehow stodgy and not so good as in bad.

Granted, our culture also refers to men as “boys” in the same sort of careless, affectionate way which I don’t find objectionable any more than someone calling a guy named Robert “Bob”. The clearly intended context of affection and casual familiarity is not what bugs me.

What bugs me is the way the word “woman” and “women” is often not used or there are other words with mild to severe derision and disrespect implied to the female gender in them. There are tons of them: “broad-frail-tomato-ho-mistress-bitch,slave, drudge.. the list goes on.And if that is how we are regarded, who would ever want to be a “woman” anyway?

Even the word “Female” is used in a clinical, almost unfriendly way at times instead of the plain old W word. Besides “grrrl” we have the homey “gal” or Lady. My BJJ teacher actually refers to us all as “Ladies.” I feel like whipping out my lace trimmed parasol, bustle and bonnet every time I hear her say it, though I am grateful for her use of it as a term of respect.

I don’t dislike the word “girl”, but I find it very disturbing how we (I’m included) are patterned by language to associate feminine innocence, vitality, worth and beauty to that which is a term for the immature state of a female child, rather than either the w word or terms of respect which are yet to be coined.

“Feminist” or “Feminista” remains a suspicious and not liked word even more than “woman”. I don’t use the word “feminist” because I associate it with card carrying activists who do things like getting beaten and put in jail. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to get beaten and sent to jail, thank you very much, and I don’t want to be associated with those who do. Actually being a woman in a society so rooted in patriarchy, is, by the very implied non discussion of it, not desirable or associated with having power.

Further, though I admire many feminist writers, I hate the way feminist factions have warred with each other, and are widely associated with hating and denigrating men. There are a great many people out there who hate feminists for daring to care about women and fight for their rights. I need to remember that the women who have been willing to fight for women’s rights are the reason why my world is as free as it is, in many significant and important ways.

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Fear and Loathing with Fukushima

I had a pretty nice New Year’s Day. I made a spicy lemonade for my respiratory cough, watched a tear jerker movie at home: “PS I Love You”, and went for a walk out on the bluffs. When i was home in the evening, I caught an article about how there are now steam plumes from Fukushima that many are predicting will send radioactive isotopes over to us on the west coast of California within 3-5 days, which will mean tomorrow or the next day. The article advised everyone to buy tons of heavy plastic, duct tape, disposable white tyvek suits, a certain kind of gas mask, and to advise the boss at work now that covering the house inside and out to prevent inhalation of radioactive particles is going to need to happen.

This really ruined my evening for awhile. Reading the article only made it very clear that even if the writer was right, and doing all this taping of plastic and trying to prevent contamination in the house was going to work, it’s not going to guarantee jack about what is happening one way or another. There is simply no way of knowing for sure what, in fact, is going to happen and being able to conclusively do anything about it to protect myself or the world from it.

I am completely furious and pissed off at the world for having anything to do with nuclear weapons and power plants after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which I think, should never have been bombed with so horrible a weapon. I can’t for the life of me understand how and why we are still here. Mainly I’m sad for the stupidity of the species and this needless destruction, along with so much other human bullshit, of this beautiful planet. In the universal scheme of things, I think we rate about insect level, except they are smart enough not to wipe themselves out. I hate nuclear, have since I found out about it in high school through reading about it, and had recurring nightmares about it for months after I learned about it.

I managed to paint a mandala of a Hathor, who are interdimensional beings from Venus that are supposed to still be around, though not in corporeal 3 dimensional form. They do everything by sonic vibration, and there are sculptures of them from ancient Egypt, where they were associated with Hathor the mother cow goddess and Sehkmet the lion goddess. I painted a figure surrounded by bright colors in a circle and put the word Fukushima spelled out with skulls for the U’s and jiggy jaggy black lines representing radiation outside of the circle of light.

I’ve spent so much time being afraid and worrying about stuff, struggling not to be terrified and screwed up about all kinds of threats in my life, real and imagined, that I have just chucked all that fear just to live. It’s not that I’m that prepared for all the things happening at all. I just don’t care to imagine I’m able to prevent any of them. I’m at peace with the fact that the last few years have been a whole better for me than most of the previous one because I choose a line of lessor resistance.

I live with a guy I have nicknamed “Dr. Doom”. He loves to get up and look at stuff on the internet that is all about fear, the end of the world, and wallow in it daily. I am happy that today he put on the best of Bread on youtube and we listened to music. Another miracle.

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Truth and Xmas Cookie Jammies

Yesterday I got the most beautiful, Christmas cheery bright red flannal jammies from my oldest sister for Christmas. They have Christmas cookie designs all over them!

There are dark blue stars outlined in white frosting with white sparkles on them, green and white Xmas trees with tiny yellow stars on top and frosted garland strips zig zagging on them, white stars with red sparkles, and balls with green, blue and red frosting. These designs look exactly like someone made them at home with their kids, and they remind me of that good feeling that comes when someone shows up with a little bag or plate of Xmas cookies when you don’t expect it. Pretty and Yummy.

I find it fabulous my dear sister would send me something so warm, so bright and so representative of the love we humans ritualize by making and sharing treats like cookies. It’s wonderfully ironic for me, because I am still using food in the place of love far too much and have experienced my obsessive and unhealthy dependency on food anew since Thanksgiving. I have stuffed down and drowned my hunger for connection by replacing it with literal food of the wrong type and excessive amounts.

Today at Spin class someone I see there gave me a huge compliment about “how much weight you’ve lost” and “you look good.” I didn’t let this mess me up, because I have changed some things about myself and made heroic efforts to lose weight and become more healthy. But I was all too aware of how some of those changes were short term and cosmetic: I changed the way I dressed, got a decent haircut, and adopted a happier attitude. All useful, no doubt, in feeling and looking better. But there is still a lot missing from my life which has a clear link to my weight. From the inside out, I am still protecting myself with 60-70 lbs of excess weight. Me and Kung Fu Panda have something in common: A big protruding squashy gut up in front, pudgy inner thighs and hanging upper arms. Pandas look fine with these things, I do not.

I’m fitter than I was 2 years ago at over 200 lbs. But the scale does not lie: I’m still FAAAAT at 190 lbs. I’m doing Jiu-jitsu, but I know the extra weight is taking it’s toll on my life and body. Then there are the areas of my life which prove I’m still lost and avoiding key issues.

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My First Roll in BJJ

Yesterday at Grappling Class I experienced my first “Roll”. If was karate or boxing, it would be called “Sparring”. I missed last week’s class, and was anxious to get to class, get back into the swim of things. I was most fortunate in that it was a small class and the warm up was effective but not overly dizzying. I still need to learn how to roll forwards and backwards, and I had to use one arm while we were doing rapid jumping jacks to contain my flopping stomach. The bouncing drag was considerable without me holding it, and I had no shame around it. My body is as it is, and there is no hiding it.
When we were done warming up, we began with standing take downs, which required some falling. I began to collide with my standard operating mental blocks/disbelief around doing jujitsu and being female immediately. It took some real courage for me to stay present, to continue to continue. I fell and smacked my left foot on the mat in a way that stung, so I asked for help from the teacher and she gave me tips on how to prevent hitting my legs wrong, pulled out extra crash pads for our practice. There’s a good chance my left middle toe is broken because it’s swollen, a little purple and not quite right.
I felt blatantly awkward, exposed, infantile. There is no faking competence on the mat. Either you have it or you don’t. I didn’t have much yesterday. Despite that, I was buoyed by the other women. They didn’t treat me with disgust, didn’t stop, weren’t arrogant. I got a little better as we worked through the throws and being thrown.
Then came the later part of the class where people “roll” together, that is, they are assigned by the teacher to pair up and freestyle. I sat for awhile, watching and smiling, happy to have gotten back into it and made some progress. Then I was exhorted to roll with my teacher by the woman she’d just rolled with. I looked at her, said “not ready”.
I began to think about it. What on earth would I do if I did roll? Somehow I knew that trying to think about it as though I can plan at my low skill level is pointless. And if I am actually going to sustain doing this BJJ, I’ll need to learn how to roll. I can’t put it off forever. I tried to open my mind to it. I talked to another woman I’d just met about her first time, and it helped.
My teacher invited me to try with her. I did. She refrained from wiping the floor with me, which I am completely sure she can do. After that I was handed off to a blue belt who is a very strong woman with the instructions to “let her(me) do whatever she wants to do”. I did. I got to try an arm bar, Americana, and Mata Leon. I am still in massive disbelief this world exists, and I don’t know how to trust it. I’m afraid, very afraid, of what could happen to me, but every time I make it through another grappling class, I feel more connected and alive.

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Ragtime Gal’s Big Debut at the Classique

“Hel-lo  my Honey,  Hel-lo my baby, Hel-lo my ragtime gal, Send me your kiss by wire….Darlin, my heart’s on fire.
If you refuse me, honey you’ll lose me, and you’ll be left a-lone. Call me and and tell me you’re my own-”

This morning I took my Catherine Henry hand thrown mug, a gorgeous blue and creamy white Ganesh seal  stamped beauty,   went to a local small cafe’, ordered 2 chocolate croissants, chai for me and triple mocha for my guy. This was to fortify me for my big piano playing debut. While paying, I asked the counter help if I could play the piano. They said yes, but also mentioned that  “There’s a guy that comes here to play at 8:30″. Then I talked to the owner of the cafe’, because someone had to turn off the back ground music. He told me “the guy” probably wasn’t coming today.

The piano had a seat  too low for me. I had to put my “Complete Works of Scott Joplin” under my butt while I was playing various memorized small classic pieces to warm up. The top of the piano had a number of objects on it: a remote, a small wicker basket shaped like a duck, a business card holder, a guitar pick, and digital tuner, and some sort of guitar neck chord shackle.  I sat. I played. Lightning did not strike me. No one threw anything. It was OK.

I worked my way into playing the first part of “The Maple Leaf Rag”. The piano I was playing on was, as the owner had said, SOFT. I didn’t have to strain to do octaves or play the quick but firm chords of ragtime.  It was time to do some rags I don’t have memorized, so I had to find a couple of books to replace the music and try to find a way to prop it up so I could read it on the top of the piano. This was a challenge. I ended up using my wallet to prop up the music and a skinny book.

I couldn’t really hear myself that well, and the lighting was not the best for me reading music. Still, I found my focus, my enjoyment, and was mildly sparkly. The piano’s softness kept my mistakes from sounding really awful.  The place got busy. There was a lot of ambient noise.  What I can always trust when I am playing ragtime is that IT IS AWESOME.   The music is the shit, so I don’t have to be, and my brain, with all it’s mad complexes, can stay the hell out of the way.

I started squinting to read the music, became choppy, and the owner materialized and said ” Stop, you are making me nervous with the starting and stopping.”  He walked over and turned on the sterio music. Can’t wish for a clearer feedback loop than that. And now I know that if I am going to play the Classique, I’d better have  my shit together and be practiced and SMOOTH.  As I hastily beat a retreat and re-put the stuff back on the top of the piano, I reflected that I had made muster for a good 40 minutes straight!  This was Success with a capital S for me.

Whoddathunk I would EVER be able to play and share the music I love in public with other people? Certainly  not me. But I have spent a lifetime teaching myself how to play ragtime. I am so grateful to have reached this point.  Friends took a photo of me, put it on Facebook and I have been cheered on.  I’m one happy ragtime gal.

 

 

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Hi – Hello, I’m Going to Choke You

Yesterday I had trouble internally  getting myself to Grappling Class.  There is some sort of vague doubt and shame that creeps in if I’m not feeling on top of getting there.  I’m aware that this has little to do with the actual situation. No one gets on my case if I am late and says ” you Are late” in an accusatory tone. It’s like a part of me is waiting for persecution, looking for a way to be wrong, bad  and quit.  The good news is that I’m not surprised something like that is showing up. I think I can count on there being further internal resistance, sabotage, fear and distortion coming from within.

I’m beginning to feel how much I want to lose weight every time I face the warm up period, which while brief, makes me breathless, dizzy and sweaty almost instantly. It exposes my lack of fitness and makes me experience my over weight the way it really is.  I’ve created a comfortable denial around it by wearing  a lot of spandex, having a good haircut and highlighting,  wearing jewelry I like, exercising enough to feel ok not having to do much and basically never looking in mirrors and connecting with how I really look.

During the class,  we went into some more cross handed chokes, combined with escapes, ones where you have to get your hands fully wrapped around the neck of the person you are choking. I am choke challenged big time. The whole thing seems excessive, weird, and alien. Besides having to literally burrow around the neck into the  back collar of the person you are choking to get a grip,  there is this angling the hands, wrists and forearms to cut off blood to the side carotid arteries. I had two women  helping me work on this, coaching me and being patient.

I noticed I was uncomfortable with them being so good to me, and I was looking for ways to just cop out and stop. I’m awkward. My mitts  are small and they can’t seem to get the  grip right. I’m afraid I will make a mistake and hurt someone. None of it feels right, and I struggle to exert enough correct force to get my partner to tap out.  Some part of me is telling me it’s impossible for me to  do this, though the women teaching me certainly can. I can still feel  soreness on the sides of my neck where they have clamped and choked me quite efficiently.

 

 

 

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The Piano Police and Thighmaster BJJ

Recently I was caught playing piano  by the Piano Police. I have been going to a place where there are several pianos and playing ragtime music , without permission, whenever I happened to want to for weeks. At this place there are people coming and going to give and get massage, do yoga classes, cook and serve food, meditate and get therapy. It’s a place of business, so I was aware it could be disruptive to people there.   I did it with the clear intention from the start of stopping if I was disturbing anyone.

And so I have, because someone is clearly not ok with me playing. I was approached by a person who is “in charge”, first with a sort of casual, devil-may-care sort of attitude. They cloaked their mission of checking me out by offering to share their lunch sandwich,  and  social interest, which is generally non existent in relation to me.  I was encouraged/advised, during this tete a tete,  to  get my own piano, or play other people’s pianos elsewhere.  At the end of this involuntary conference, I was exhorted to “carry on” playing, after they were done speaking to me, which I did.  This was a conciliatory, diplomatic gesture designed to keep waves from forming. I didn’t buy it for a minute.

A few days later, the crackdown came, delivered by the same person: I am to be “rescheduled” and charged $10 an hour for using the piano. The proverbial “We” was used. “We need to reschedule you”.  I took this all in stride, but left, having a schedule I was on for that day.  A couple of days later someone else showed up to play one of the grand pianos in the gallery, and he told me he was a good friend of the folks running the place and had been playing for free for years. He was also looking over his shoulder, nervous about running into the piano police.

The creators of the place with the pianos have a venue off site of their main business which are about  placing pianos, which are being thrown away all over the United States,  around areas outside where anyone can play them. It was in this spirit that I started playing.  That venue has attracted much positive attention, but it has also upset “authorities” (rangers, city and county officials), despite requests ahead of time for permission and permits. There were 12 pianos put out, but eventually all but two were removed.

I find it deliciously  ironic I have brought the “authority” of the piano liberators down on me, but I respect and appreciate what I’ve received. and will not play without permission again at their business.

During this experiment I have discovered that I am no longer willing to practice in isolation and never share what I’ve spent years learning. I love ragtime music, specifically those composed by classic ragtime composer Scott Joplin, who lived at the turn of the Century. I have his almost complete works. I’ve begun telling people this story, sharing that I want to play. My quest for pianos to play and sharing the music has begun. I’m patient. The music is within me and can’t be taken away by anyone.

I have some very good reasons why I don’t want my own piano at home. Been there and done that. They are heavy, hard to move, and require tuning and dusting. I know the man I live with well. He is  mired in patterns of malnutrition and chronic emotional fear and negativity.  If I had a piano and practiced regularly, he would be jealous of me having it and being happy playing it,  and paranoid about it disturbing our neighbors. He would not mean to, but he would make it impossible for me to freely play it, therefore I don’t want one at home.

One of the best things that happened in my last grappling class was a hint from a woman blue belt in our class: She used the word “Thighmaster” to describe the way one can clamp their upper legs together when doing the classic arm bar.  This is a valuable thing, because the image of Susanne Somers and her “Thighmaster” machine, while comic, is easy to remember and really works.

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