Sunday, May 30, 2010

Writing it out

I spent the weekend in Des Moines, Iowa. Contain your jealousy. I drove up Saturday morning and came back the next evening. It's about 4 hours away from Kansas City. I went up there to write.

I've had something knocking around in my heart for about a week now and I needed to write it out. I could feel it easing it's way up into my mind, asking for expression. I don't usually give myself the luxury of time away like this to write, in fact I never have, but this was a fairly heavy piece and it felt important to get it out.

I wanted to have several hours alone in the car because when I drive long distances I get into a kind of semi-hypnotic state and I start composing in my head, and then I pull over and write stuff down. I know it sounds odd, but it works for me.

I got a fair bit down on paper, but it still pretty rough. I need to let it sit for a while, then go back and fill in the holes and smooth it over.

I didn't do anything in Des Moines other than sit in my hotel and write, but on the way back I took a detour to see the covered bridges. The bridges of Madison County are a pleasure to visit, much more enjoyable than reading the book that made them famous (then again, so is a root canal).

There are about seven bridges spread out over the county and it takes a couple of hours to visit them all.

Since I was on my own, I approached another woman and asked if she would take a picture of me in front of one of the bridges. As she backed up several steps, trying to get the entire bridge and the sign and the river in the picture, I suggested that I didn't need all of that in the frame, but she was adamant. She snapped the picture, I thanked her and moved onto the next bridge. I approached another tourist, who oddly did the same thing, so I ended up with two pictures of a miniature me centered in front of a broad bridgescape. Finally, I just held the camera out in front of me and settled on an arms-length self portrait. So there you are.

The pleasure of visiting the bridges was enhanced by the drive itself, narrow country lanes that wound through pastureland, leading from one bridge to the next. As I drove over the twisting dirt roads that crested gentle hills and dipped down into wooded valleys, I felt my body relaxing to a level I hadn't felt in a long time, the stress of the last several months easing away.

I could have spent several days out there just driving around and getting lost on little dirt roads, but I missed my kids, who were tugging on the other end of my heart.

So how about you? Do you ever have a story or a memory growing inside of you and asking for expression? If so, how do you get it out of your head and onto paper?
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Friday, May 28, 2010

What hangs in the balance

Tonight as I was reading through blogs I came across a post on Frog Ponds Rock about the oil spill in the Gulf and a piece of pottery Kim has been inspired to create as a result, the response of her artist's soul. She included a link to a series of graphic photos from the Boston Globe and posted one of the pictures on her blog. An image of a dragonfly on an oil-soaked blade of grass, trying to clean it's soiled wings.

Other than the occasional headline news story, I've avoided looking at photos of the spill because I haven't wanted to face the images. But tonight I clicked on the link and of course it was heartbreaking. Formerly white birds moored to the ground by heavy black coats, mile upon mile of sick-glistening delta.

I tried to explain the oil spill to my 5-year-old son, who came to sit next to me as I scrolled through the images.

“Why are you sad?” he asked.

“Those birds are covered with oil. Their bodies can't get warm. They will try to use their beaks to clean the oil off their feathers and they will swallow it, and it's poisonous. They will die.”

“What is all that?”

“That's oil too. It's in the water.”

Jim and I explained that it affected all the plants and animals that live in and around the water. How if we got in the car and drove all day and all night long, we still would not have driven the length of the spill.

As I scrolled through picture after picture, I felt several things: anger, disbelief, disappointment. But mostly I felt immensely sad. Not just sad for the Gulf, but sad on a grander scale. What hubris have we that we rip our resources from the earth so carelessly that with one slip, we wipe out an ecosystem.  We live our lives of moderate comfort, myself included, and when tragedy happens we give voice to our distress and then turn off the news and go to bed.  But do we ever truly see what hangs in the balance?

In her post, Kim posed the question, how does one compensate for the life of a dragonfly?

How indeed. What is the value of a dragonfly? Or a heron? Or a stand of swamp grass, or a pool of salt water teeming with invisible life?

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

And # 7 especially

It seems I've been tagged in another meme.  A grumpy meme.  Hmmmm....

Marylin at Softthistle has asked me to list out seven things that get under my skin.  I'm feeling pictorial today so I'm going to zip my lips and just show you some photos.








Well, that's a bitter note to end on, isn't it?

Okay then, here's something that makes me positively ungrumpy:

I believe this is where I tag a few others...

In Real Life
What Can I Say?
Diapers & Dragons
Pampers & Pinot
Unperfect Life
Random Ramblings of a SAHM (because I'm afraid she'll run out of things to blog about)

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Pacing, waiting

My life moves in slow motion. I am here. My future, out there, impossibly way out there. There is much that needs to be settled first. Papers gathered, numbers crunched, negotiations, mediation, settlement, waiting for dates to pass, tick tock. Time strewn carelessly into the distance. Anxiety.

I feel like a caged animal who has caught the scent of the wild on a stray gust of wind. Pacing, pacing, vomiting up yesterday's stale food. Feet bleeding from pawing at the concrete. Angry, exhilarated, desperate, fully alive.

I don't do endurance well. I'm not the long-suffering type. I was reading on a friend's blog yesterday that she had assigned her class the book Night by Elie Wiesel. I was assigned that book in high school and then again in college. After two years I dropped out of college to travel. Years later I returned to another college. In Humanities, they again assigned Night and asked us to write a paper on it. Two days later I handed in a well-reasoned essay on why, while I understood how important it was that our generation fully comprehend the significance and inhumanity of the Holocaust, I would never fucking read Night again. I got an A on the paper.

So I get up each day, I go about my business, I pace. At night, I curl up in the corner and sleep with one eye open, waiting.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

WTF Australia ?!?

I was reading this morning on Badger's blog that the religious conservatives in the Australian parliament have quietly changed the regulations for incoming visitors to the country. If you're traveling from overseas, you will now be asked if you are carrying pornography and customs officials have the right to search your belongings, including your electronic devices, looking for titillating bits. Furthermore, the legislation does not define pornography. That definition is left up to the individual customs agents searching through your hard drives.

The first thing I want to know is this. Why does Australia have religious wing-nuts in government? Isn't that an American tradition? Aren't you edging onto our turf? Back off there, Australia.

Secondly, you know my dream is to someday live on your golden shores. You are my Shangri-La. Don't go all Americanized on me. If I wanted to live in a bastion of finger-wagging right-wing oppression, I'd move to Kansas.

Finally, what if my definition of art is your definition of pornography? For instance, a customs official could be searching through the documents on my hard drive and find this:

This could well lead to questioning about my recent affair with Bryan Brown of 20 years ago, which honestly, is nobody's business. And things could become even more uncomfortable if this was then discovered...

So Australia, please, mind your own damn business. Keep your paws off my electronic pornographic material and leave the big-brotherish tactics to other domineering countries with a much higher state-to-nation ratio that have already perfected invasive and condescending airport searches.


Thinking, thinking....

Hold on a minute. Remembering this post.

Quickly reloading all files with any sexual content back onto my computer.

And hello Australia!


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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

ZOMG, I'm already in Tasmania

Wow. That was fast.

My first post has landed in Tasmania. I'm guest posting today at Frog Ponds Rock, which was almost voted Best Australian/NZ weblog of 2010!

Meh, I always preferred penultimate.

Kim at FPR lives in the wilds of Taz with her partner in a home they built from the ground up. She raises pigs and chickens, makes beautiful pottery, rocks her purple hair and falls squarely into the category of treasured friend I haven't met. Yet. One of these days, however, I'm going to show up at Hobart airport and it's not going to involve Photoshop.

My post is called My Island, Your Island.  So go on over there and give me some readerly love. Please?  Just click here.

Don't worry, I slept with Elmer Fudd to get the rights to this picture
(so not worth it)

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Hot bloggy tour of Oz resumes

Hoo ya!  Guess who's headed back to Australia?  That would be me.

Remember when I kicked off the Hot Damn I'm in Australia bloggy tour at Lori's blog?  I had a most enjoyable stay in Sydney.  So enjoyable, that I'm going back down under.

Strolling barefoot on Bondi beach with a friend
(don't worry, I slept with Nicole Kidman to get the rights to this photo)

I'm happy to say I've since scored several generous guest posting offers and will be showing up on the shores of Oz again very, very soon*.  How soon?  I'm not sure, that's largely out of my hands, but posts have had their passports stamped, been buckled into their seats and are on their way west.

If you'd like me to stop at your Australian blog on my tour, let me know. I can tailor a post to your needs or go freestyle. I have some pretty exciting stops lined up and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can get out to the wild, wild red country west of the Great Dividing Range.

After each one has been posted, I will be putting them up at Not Wanderlust, so they will all be in one place.  What is Not Wanderlust, you ask?  It's my other blog.  I started it several months ago so I would have a place to play around with themes and new pages and whatnot, and if I made any major screw-ups while doing so they would not happen on Wanderlust. 

I used to call it Nobody Read Me Ever, hoping that in so doing people would ignore it and not click on it, but of course that just made people curious.  It gets a number of visits and even has a few followers now (hi Eva, hi Tenille!).  Anyway, the address is KristinSuxatPhotoshop dot com.  No, just click here.

P.S.  Has anyone else noticed that Feedburner is drunk?  Shall we pool funds to send it to detox?

*would have been sooner had I gotten my arse in gear and written posts three weeks ago, sorry Ms. B., flog me now.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Seven delectable, er deadly sins

Yet another meme. I seem to be in high meme mode lately. This was started by the sinfully delicious Lori at Random Ramblings and I was tagged by Kakka. I'm to list out seven sins. I was disappointed I was so limited, but here goes.

Sloth - how do you relax?  By getting off by myself, finding space and time alone, if I’m fortunate I get out of town and into the wild. Or drive off somewhere, anywhere, as long as there are long empty stretches of road and I can turn up the music.

Gluttony - What can't you get enough of, even though it's bad for you?  My imagination is at work 24/7. I’m forever tuning out and losing myself in deep thought. Have been since I was a child. I rarely dwell on the past, always fantasize about the future. It's my drug of choice. Hello… earth to Kristin.

Greed - What do you get greedy for?  Long stretches of uninterrupted time alone, when I can dump my brain of all the “have to’s” and “must do’s” and just… be. I suppose this is a reiteration of my first point, since I don't get enough of it.

Envy - What makes you green?  Not much, honestly, though I often look at people who have extended family nearby and think how fortunate they are. I would love for my kids to have that family experience, and for me to have a break from parenting now and then. My kids are so hungry for relationship, they just love all over any extended family member they have the fortune of seeing.

Lust - What does it for you?   Hmmm… well now, this would do.

Pride - What are you inordinately proud of?  My children. Cliché, I know, but they truly are the most wonderful little people. Affectionate, polite, kind little souls, smart as whips. I marvel at who they've become.

Wrath (Anger) - What makes you cranky?  Republicans, armchair whiners, people who throw their cigarette butts out the window, FOX news anchors, FOX news, fragile victim-types, passive-aggressives, drama queens, Nancy Grace, I’m starting to get redundant so I’ll just stop here.

What about you? What are your deadly sins?

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

If I were...

If I were a month, I would be late September

If I were a day of the week, I would be Friday pressing into the weekend

If I were a time of day, I would be the dead of night

If I were a planet, I would be Pluto, the reconsidered

If I were an animal, I would be a wild beast of a cat, a leopard perhaps

If I were a direction, I would be West

If I were a piece of furniture, I would be destroyed and used for firewood, so I could escape to the ether

If I were a liquid, I would be breast milk

If I were a gemstone, I would be jasper

If I were a tree, I would never be pruned

If I were a tool, I would be a lathe

If I were a flower, I would be clematis

If I were a kind of weather, I would be a thunderstorm rolling over the Plains

If I were a musical instrument, I would be tucked in a corner so there could be silence

If I were a color, I would be deep orange

If I were an emotion, I would be hope

If I were a fruit, I would be a ripe mango

If I were a sound, I would be the wind in the trees

If I were an element, I would be earth

If I were a car, I wouldn't be, I would walk

If I were a food, I would be a slice of chocolate cream pie

If I were a place, I would be an empty stretch of red desert, far from the din of the city

If I were a material, I would be silk as it slips off skin

If I were a taste, I would be crème brulee

If I were a scent, I would be the fresh earth after rain

If I were an object, I would be the rain itself

If I were a body part, I would be the inside of the wrist

If I were a facial expression, I would be smile lines

If I were a pair of shoes, I would be well worn

A meme that been going around. No idea where it started. I saw it on the The Half Full Glass, blog of the gorgeous Kakka, who is the taste of hot chocolate, the smell of cinnamon and who embodies the emotion of love.

What about you? What would you be?

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bloggers without makeup, a deconstruction

This is a re-post of the piece I posted on BlogHer yesterday.

Unless you've been absent from your computer you've probably heard that May 14th was Bloggers Without Makeup day, the brainchild of Australian blogger Jodie Ansted. In an effort to combat the unhealthy and unrealistic images of women portrayed in the media and to underscore the fact that real beauty comes from within, Ansted urged bloggers to post pictures of themselves sans makeup.

When I read the original post announcing her idea, I was keen to participate. I hurriedly took a picture of myself with my little handheld with the glaring flash, donning my bathrobe (yeah), drafted my post and waited for her to put up her McLinky so that I could hit publish. Overachiever am I.

As soon as she did, people began to link up. In droves. At first it was mostly Australians, then it began to spread to other continents and before long there was the Bloggess, sans makeup, sans centaur (kept the cat). At last count there were 175 women linked up.

Twitter and Facebook and the comment sections of blogs lit up with excitement over this little meme. It was really something to see. And I think I know what all the fuss was about.

Something began to happen as I clicked on blog after blog after blog and looked at all of these pictures. Women showing up before the world with their rosacea and their crows feet and their crooked noses and wonky eyes and warm, shy smiles. Open, honest, vulnerable, 100% themselves.

I thought they were beautiful. Not beautiful. Absolutely, bloody gorgeous.

I stayed up late into the night leaving comments after comment. I got up early the next morning and there were more blogs to visit. I got off work early and started in again, clicking on blogs, leaving comments. “You look stunning!” “My god, you are simply beautiful.” And not just me. Every woman was saying the same thing. Because it was true.

Look. Look at these women and tell me they are not beautiful. Her and her and her and her. I love these women.

I love them for the same reason I love writing that is raw and honest and from the heart. Because we all crave the genuine article. Here we are thinking we need to hide who we are, put on a mask and show the world what we think the world wants to see. But the world wants to see us, warts and all, because there is something in all of us that responds to authenticity.

Thank you Jodie for lighting a match that started a fire that lit up the hearts of women around the world.

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What is it that we all crave?

I posted an article over on BlogHer about why I think Bloggers Without Makeup was such an unprecedentd success.  You can read it here.

But I'll give you a hint.  Authenticity.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Raw and uncensored

Consider this:
  • 80% of American women are dissatisfied with their appearance.
  • Two thirds of women are so unhappy with their bodies they would undergo plastic surgery to achieve the perfect body. 
  • 51% of 9 and 10 year old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet.
  • Approximately 7 million girls and women in the U.S. struggle with eating disorders. 
  • Without treatment, up to 20% of people with serious eating disorders die.
Today bloggers around the world are taking off their makeup and revealing their real faces in an effort to show the world what true beauty looks like -- that beauty is not something applied on the outside to cover us up, but rather something that shines from within.  Hats off to Jodie for launching the idea.

I believe that beauty is love, integrity, honesty, compassion and generosity of spirit. I would rather spend one day with someone who is genuine than a lifetime with someone who wears a mask.

The earth didn’t quake last month when we showed some boob (well, maybe a little – sorry Taiwan, way to take one for the masses). I imagine it can handle our bare faces for one day.

Oh, and for those of you who clicked on yesterday’s post (Bloggers in the buff) and were disappointed to see it was about blogging without makeup, who took me to task because I talk up honesty and the genuine article and then posted a teaser title like that (hint, the readers I’m referring to here are not the ones with vaginas, they were very enthusiastic about the post), I’ll say this:

Fine then, you want the genuine article? Later this year I will start my own meme – Bloggers in the buff, the full monty. I expect the enthusiastic participation of everyone who took me to task. Whingers.

Anyway. Please show your support of the women participating today. Visit their links (go to Jodie's site for the McLinky), tell them how beautiful they are, stumble their posts. Because we are beautiful, all of us (even you whinging men).

This is me, first thing in the morning, mother, writer, workslave, soon-to-be-ex, incorrigible dreamer, afflicted with wanderlust, raw and uncensored.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bloggers in the buff

I hate stereotypes, don’t you? Especially when those stereotypes damage the hearts and minds of those I love. Right now our society has some pretty unrealistic and unhealthy stereotypes of what defines beauty in a woman. I’ve written about it here.

A few days ago Jodie at Mummy Mayhem in Australia decided that in an attempt to support reality, she would post a picture of herself without makeup and urge other bloggers to do the same. She has declared this Friday, May 14th, Bloggers Without Makeup Day.

Already scores of women have signed on to take part. If you believe that beauty comes from within and would like to support this movement, put up a post on Friday and show us your beautiful self, sans makeup. She’ll have a McLinky on her site that you can link to. If you’re on Twitter you can post there with the hash tag #bloggerswithoutmakeup. I’ll be taking part and will have the McLinky up on my site as well. Remember that tomorrow (Thursday in North America) will coincide with Friday in Australia.

So come on ladies, are you in?  Let’s take it off and put it up in support of real beauty.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Letters I never sent

Claire Marie at Spontaneous Delight started a meme in which you compose letters to inanimate objects, clever girl.  I rather liked it, so I’m taking part. Most of mine ended up being to body parts, which was unintentional, but I’m going with it.

Dear Sarah Palin*,

I’m so pleased you haven’t given up on your policy of offshore drilling in light of the devastating oil spill off the Gulf coast. It’s just a shame we can’t use your brain to help clean up this mess, seeing as it lacks the ability to actually absorb anything. (*Yes, counts as an inanimate object.)

Dear breasts,

When I said I wanted to lose weight, I didn’t mean there and there. I meant down there. And back there.

Dear ass,

Yes, now we’re talking.


So, uh, who actually paid for the trip? Rev. Rekers or Focus on the Family? Or was it NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality)? Just curious.

Dear UK election process,

I’m so confused.

Dear male parts of the world,

Have you heard the news? Your concave counterparts no longer have the corner on the glitterature market. Penazzling now available. I kid you not. Yeah, I didn’t think it was a good idea either. Plain, no sprinkles, thank you very much.

Dear Arizona,

I’m having a party this weekend! Would you like to come? All the fun states are going to be there. Oh, one thing. My friends and I reserve the right at any time to check your license to make sure you’re legal, your pockets for receipts to see how much you spent on that bottle of wine, your wallet to see if you’re carrying a condom (cheeky bastard) and how much cash you have on you (in case we’re short), and your pants for the size of your penis; also to ensure you have an American flag tattooed on your ass. Thanks and hope to see you there!

So. What about you? Are you going to join the meme fun?

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

For A + D, with love

Seven and a half years ago I embarked on a journey
that changed me in ways I failed to imagine.

Because imagination, for all it's beauty and richness, lacks the capacity to conjure
anything so deeply satisfying as the love of a mother for her children.

I look at you, two tender souls.

You give your trust, your forgiveness, your hearts without question.

Lately, at night, I've said a prayer.
A prayer that I will always be present for you when you need to be seen.
That I will listen quietly as you speak your truth.
And that when the road ahead gets rough, as it will, I will provide a soft place for you to fall.

  How can I ever express how much you mean to me?
You have brought me the greatest joy I have known in this life.
The gift of being a mother.  
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Friday, May 7, 2010

Follow her or be spanked

I love it when I have a comment from a new reader and I follow the comment back to their blog to check them out and discover, lo... their blog rocks!

This happened today when I found C Bellabell, who is an American living in Japan, and read her Fresca-through-the-nose funny post on the evil powers of the Sky Mall catalogue.  But here's what I don't get.  She only has 8 followers (well, 9 now).  And here's the other thing I don't get. She visited my blog without leavig me any Japanese flag.  A conundrum, which I'm willing to let go for now.

So here's what I want you to do.  Go read her post.  Shoot Fresca through your nose.  While you're there, read the one on the Penis Festival.  Yeah.  Then FOLLOW her blog. If you don't, I will spank you.  Unless you enjoy that kind of thing.  In which case, if you do I will spank you.

And here's another thing.  It's seems someone has seen fit to review Wanderlust and award it five gold sovereigns!  Don't believe me?  Hop on over to Blogger's Cafe and see for yourself.

Spanks for the blog love AV.  Besos to you my dear!

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