Shark Attack

Ahh, the car ride into daycare.  I’ve mentioned it before, and boy how my daughter likes to spring the big questions on me when I can’t wiggle away. It’s like she knows exactly how to make me squirm and delights in doing it.

So, we’re in the car, and she waits until I’m pulling out of the driveway.

“You’re married to daddy, right?”

“Yes,” I say. I’m thinking this is going down the path of discussing her friend whose parents are divorced. My daughter still struggles with wrapping her head around it.

“So, you’re a girl and you married a boy, right.”

“You don’t get married until you’re a grown-up, but yes.”

“Boys can marry boys, too, right?”

I pause. I’m in new waters, and the sharks are circling. I know everything I say will be twisted around and retold on the playground. “Why do you ask?”

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“Bronson said so.”

“Well, Bronson’s not wrong.” For once.

“That means girls can marry girls.”

I pause again, feeling like the sharks are getting closer but still not knowing what to do or where this is going. “Yes.”

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“Well, I’m going to marry a girl when I grow up.”

I pause again. “Why is that?”

“Because boys are gross. Did you know Bronson farts and doesn’t say excuse me?”

I’m thinking, yeah, that doesn’t change much with age.

“What do you think, momma?”

“That Bronson should say excuse me.”

“I mean about me marrying a girl.”

And the shark just ate the surfer. Yeah, I knew something was coming, but I didn’t know until the moment the jaws closed.

I take a deep breath. “I want you to marry someone that loves you, is good to you, and will always be there for you. If they do that, I don’t care who they are.”

“I love you, momma.”

“And I will always love you, sweetheart.”

And at that moment, I realized everything I said was true.

 

How about you? Anyone ever spring a hard or unexpected conversation on you? How did you respond? Do you ever feel like your children, nieces, nephews, or whomever are baiting traps for you? Ever fall in? How did you get back out?

Completely Derailed

After finally finding a groove in my writing again, the whole thing was derailed by a string of migraines. Five days in a row. For those of you that suffer from them, you know these as “boomerang” migraines. They are increasingly intense headaches as your treatments aren’t getting rid of the migraine. They’re merely making it angry.

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Several people asked me if I could just sleep them off. I wish. Migraines will wake you up and keep you rolled into a ball all night long not sleeping. They can also let you sleep, only to plow into you the moment you open your eyes.

I’ve known people who get migraines because they haven’t slept and then can’t sleep because of the migraine.

For me, they always start behind the same eye. I don’t get auras, but I do get pressure that means one is going to start. Time to take medicine or I will pay and pay dearly.

Taking medicine at the first sign of an impending migraine usually heads it off, or at the very least, reduces the symptoms. This can be the difference from making it through the day with a headache and curling up in a ball because sound makes you vomit.

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For the severity of the pain and the number of people migraines affect, we know very little.

  • They tend to run in families (thanks mom!), but don’t have to. We have yet to find a genetic marker.
  • They may be hormonal. Adult women are 2-3 times more like to get them than men, but in pre-adolescence, boys are slightly more likely to get them than girls.
  • Frequency and severity tends to reduce significantly for women after menopause.
  • Pregnant women usually see a decrease in them, unless you’re unlucky. Then, even some of the best narcotics on the planet can’t end them, though they’ll make you care a lot less about the pain (migraine medicine passes through the placenta to the baby and narcotics don’t).
  • They cause nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, and smell. Someone once equated it to a really bad acid trip. I have no idea if it’s true.

It breaks my heart when pain shoots through my head just because my little ones are yelling my name in excitement when I come home from work. Not to mention, well, you know, pain bad enough to make you vomit. I do my best to keep them under control.

It just doesn’t always work.

I’m careful of personal migraine triggers. For me, diet soda is a huge one. I’ve cut anything with aspartame out of my diet completely.  I’ve often wondered if migraines can be triggered by institutional lighting. I’m far more likely to get them at work than at home. I don’t think it’s the computer screen as I don’t get them from reading on my Kindle.

Whatever the cause, this is not a modern problem. Migraines have been around for a long, long time. Earliest records we’ve found so far describing them are from Egypt around 1,500 BC.

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They are also widespread. Approximately one billion people suffer from migraines. Yeah, one billion. Most, though, don’t get them several times a month like I do. And even fewer get the ones that chain (where you get them successive days) or boomerang.

With so many people affected, it’s an expensive problem. Twenty-seven billion euros in Europe per year, plus an additional $17 billion in the US.

Despite all these sufferers, there is no cure for migraines. Just drugs to treat them. All I can say is thank goodness for the triptans. The aspirin, Tylenol, full-sugar coke cocktail I took in my youth has nothing on the triptans.

Before the advent of these drugs, I could fight a migraine for days on end. Any amount of light felt like daggers being poked through my eyes, and sound made me vomit. It was awful. And while I forced myself to go to work or school, the pain could be crippling, and it most assuredly made it harder for me to learn and made me less productive.

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Migraines are sneaky, and if you don’t treat them, they can steal your life. Not in the here one moment and gone the next way, but drip by drip. Night after night spent home hiding from light and sound rather than participating in and enjoying life.

I lost too much of my life to them. I’ve learned to fight back and fight back hard.

They may have knocked me off track from writing for the moment, but I will prevail. This has been a particularly nasty bout, but I haven’t let them win before and I won’t now.

 

How about you? Ever suffer from migraines? Maybe other headaches or recurring pain? How did/do you deal with it? Do you find it makes you less productive or enjoy life less? What do you do to push through it?

My Secret Envy

Envy is never a good motion. It’s one of the seven deadly sins, after all.

Still, I gotta admit to it, especially when it comes to my male co-workers. Here are six things I really envy.

 

1. Shoes

I cannot tell you how envious I am of my male co-workers’ shoes. They are not expected to sport heels of any sort. Their shoes are designed for comfort, and it’s easy for them to get shoes with non-slip soles for our floors. We’re a heavy manufacturer, so we don’t have carpet anywhere except the CEO and President’s office. That’s it. So, those leather or synthetic soles on the bottoms of most women’s shoes turns the floors into an ice skating rink. We’ve actually had several women slip and fall on the floors.

 

Seriously, which looks more practical to you? Which do you want to walk the shop floor in? Or even walk to the bathroom wearing?

So yes, I buck this trend, and I accept the “hit” to my professional appearance accordingly.

 

2. Hair

Men can “do” their hair in about 2.3 minutes. The concept of a bad hair day is about as alien to them as putting their feet in shoes designed for Barbie rather than the anatomical realities of a human foot.

Men don’t have to blow dry, straighten, curl, or figure out which products do what. Best of all, most of the men I know get their hair cut for under $25 including tip. Yeah, that’s less than half the going rate in my area for a woman’s haircut.

If you talk to most guys about coloring their hair, they’ll look at you like you’re speaking Swahili. Yet, women over a certain age are expected to color their hair. Heck, it doesn’t even matter if you’re of a certain age. The moment that grey starts to peak through, you’re expected to take care of it.

I hate going to the salon. Not only is it expensive, but I have to sit there while people I don’t know touch me and try to make conversation. Is there any more of a nightmare for an introvert?

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I am fortunate that I don’t yet have any grey hair. Yeah, I know, odd, but true. When I do start to go grey, I will have to make a hard decision on whether or not I buck the trend. Given my allergies, I am not sure I could even tolerate the chemicals.

Still, I’m jealous of my male counterparts that are considered distinguished with grey hair rather than just “old”.

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3. Make Up

As I confessed in this post, I already don’t wear it. I can’t.

As a professional woman, there’s a price to pay for this. My male counterparts are expected NOT to wear makeup. A few lines or wrinkles adds distinction.

If only…

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4. Pants

I work in heavy manufacturing. Wearing skirts or dresses, while possible, is pretty impractical. Even if I didn’t work in manufacturing, dresses are really impractical. I want to see a man put on pantyhose just once. Or having to sit with their legs just so. Or worrying about skirt length as they’re walking up or down stairs.

However, buying pants as a woman is a nightmare.

I can buy my husband’s khakis in about 3 clicks. Wrinkle resistant? Yep. Waist size? Yep. Inseam? Yep. Click buy and 95% of the time they fit perfectly.

Women’s pants don’t come in inseams. Or waist sizes. I think this is a ploy to keep tailors in business. See, I have to scour the internet to find a pair of weirdly sized pants (what exactly does 8, 10 and 12 relate to?!?), and once I find a pair that fits  (the size of which will vary by brand, by cut, and by phase of the moon), I then get to take them to the tailor and have them hemmed to fit me and the waist taken in.

I once asked a sales clerk why the pants were so darn long as I walked on the hems while trying them on. I’m average height for an American woman, so why don’t the pants fit me? She explained that they’re designed for women to wear shoes like the ones above. Um, yeah. I’ll just keep paying the tailor.

 

5. Bras

My male coworkers don’t wear them.

I cannot explain the “joy” of wearing one, or how long and hard you have to look to find the right one. I once told my husband to imagine having to wear a jock strap constantly. But, having never had to wear one, I have no idea if it’s accurate. The way he squirmed when I said that made me think it’s at least part way there.

 

6. Underwear

Men buy them in packs of 6 for under $20.  ‘Nuf said.

 

How about you? Ever feel envy for something, even if it was something small? What was it and why?

Sidewalks?

Why are people walking in the road when there is a perfectly good sidewalk?

No, this is not a rhetorical question.

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I see this all the time.  Just the other night, a man in dark colors was walking his dog on the road. Three feet next to him was a perfectly good sidewalk. A sidewalk we’re all required to shovel and otherwise maintain. Only reason I saw him was his the white on his black and white dog.

I know, I know, in the frozen tundra, sometimes not everyone clears off their sidewalk perfectly. But climate change has seen us with the warmest February on record! March has been much the same. There was literally no snow anywhere. So why would you risk walking on the road, during rush hour, rather than on the sidewalk?

Or, if you really hate the sidewalks, why not go to the dog park that’s a mile away? Or, the park that’s at the end of the block?

I’ve heard it said if you’re training for a marathon or 10k and taking it very seriously, roads are smoother and less prone to cracks. Except, of course, for the cars on them. Which, at an average of 4,000 pounds or so, seems like a perfectly safe thing to challenge. Because tired drivers coming home after dark during rush hour are always able to see you in your dark clothes and quickly respond. Especially if you slip, lose your footing, or trip on a rock.

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There is one gentleman that runs in our neighborhood who is a serious marathoner. He runs here because we have A LOT of hills, many that are very steep. He wears a lighted vest that flashes on both the front and the back. Very easy to see. I appreciate that.

Still wish he wasn’t on the road, but I can easily see and avoid him.

Not sure why others aren’t using the special trails by us dedicated to bicycles and pedestrians. We have parks. We have waterfronts. Why the street? Can’t be the view, certainly.

Look, I know walkers and cyclists are supposed to have equal rights. I know that some are very dedicated to their sports and want to train.

I’ve often wondered if they know just how dangerous it is to ride in traffic without a bike lane. Maybe even with a bike lane. Especially with impatient drivers that want to get around you when you can’t do the speed limit.

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This may be an unpopular thing to say, but I’m not entirely sure why it is okay to ride a bike or walk on any road with a speed limit above 25 MPH.  It seems like a disaster waiting to happen at the worst, or a traffic jam at the best.

Yes, yes, I know. Not very environmentally friendly of me. Or very sharing. But honestly,  sharing the street with others who are not in a car scares the living daylights out of me. I’m terrified I might hit them, and that would be on my conscience for the rest of my life. And, of course, I get frustrated when I have to do 15 MPH because I got stuck behind a bike in a 40 MPH zone.

Yes, I am trying to be more empathetic, but this isn’t about just me and the cyclist. This is about me, the cyclist, and the six people now lined up behind me all angry as they try swerve around me to get to work.

Maybe I’m more worried than the average driver about trying to get around a cyclist or pedestrian. My mother’s friend buried her nineteen-year-old daughter two years ago. See, the woman’s college cycling team was riding down a state road when she and two other members of her team were hit by a mid-sized truck.

None of them survived.

Her father happened to be assisting the coach of the team, and he watched his daughter die. He hasn’t been the same.

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The truck driver was fine, and the accident did little more than scratch the paint on his vehicle. Maybe, because of this, I’ve over-exaggerated the danger in my mind. Maybe not.

I’m glad that people are outside and improving their fitness. What I don’t understand is why anyone would want to be on the road with a 4,000 pound car unless they were in one, too.

 

How about you? Do you ever cycle or walk in the street rather than the sidewalk? Why? Perhaps you’ve seen this phenomena and have more insight into it than I do, especially those walking in the street.

Book Review: Lethal Bayou Beauty

Title: Lethal Bayou Beauty

Author: Jana Deleon

Series: A Miss Fortune Mystery

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No spoilers in this review.

This is what a book series should be.

The book stands alone, and there is very little rehashing from the first novel in the series. There’s a tiny bit of forward progression with the main character and her issues with her family, but not a lot. I didn’t expect a lot as this is a series.

The characters we fell in love with in the first book are back in the second, with a few more thrown in. While some of the characters were really archetypes, I didn’t care because they were so much like people I have known in my life. The author really did live in a small Southern town.

Again, this is a series, so while there is a love interest, things are moving along slowly. As I would expect.

The story revolved around our heroine, Fortune, getting embroiled in a small-town murder and singled out as the prime suspect. She knows she didn’t commit the murder, and so does the local deputy, but it’s not enough to stop the local gossips or lynch mobs.

The book has the usual hi-jinks of the Geritol Mafia and is a fun read. You’re not going to get Game of Thrones level intrigue here, and that’s okay. I can read it, enjoy it, and not get nightmares. I will say it has a happy ending, so need to worry on that account.

I love the strength and foibles of the characters, and I love the fact that there are numerous strong female characters in the story.

The characters all  stay true to themselves. There is never a point where I feel like they’re being forced along by the author.

The plot resolves itself well, and it feels natural. No dues ex machina or author god to force things along.

A good story, and a fun way to spend an afternoon.

10 Steps to Younger Skin

I came across an advertisement like this, and I’m not really sure how this is even allowed. I mean, no matter what I do, I am going to have the skin of a woman who needs yearly mammograms. I could do 10 steps, 20 steps, 100 steps, and my skin will not go back in time.

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And frankly, why should I want it to? Why does my skin need to look younger than it is?

To be attractive. To be beautiful. To be desired.

To be loved.

There is the reason. The real reason I’m supposed to want younger skin. I feel like I’m inundated with messages constantly telling me I’m not “good enough” to be loved. I’m not pretty enough, thin enough, rich enough. I’m just not enough.  So I must buy their product to look better, to be thin, or to appear rich. Their product will help make me enough.

Of course, that’s complete crap.

But if they can convince us to believe it, they have a market for life. A market that won’t be terribly sensitive to price.

Makes me wonder if this is part of what feeds the escapism some of us find in romance novels. In these stories, however old you are, whatever you look like, it’s always enough.

Outside of our fiction, advertisers are doing whatever they can to make us feel we need their product. Most likely because what they’re selling isn’t chocolate cake. Rather, their wares are something we don’t want or need intrinsically so they must create a market for it.

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And create a market they did. While there was almost no cosmetics industry in the early 1900s, the global cosmetics market was worth $460 billion in 2014   Let me show you that with the zeros:  $460,000,000,000. A year.   By 2020, it’s estimated to be a $675,000,000,000 market.

I want you to think about that for a moment.

California’s state budget is $171 Billion.

Okay, so bigger than the entire state of California’s budget. Not just bigger. More than twice as big.

I did some looking, and the cosmetics industry is scheduled to surpass US military spending of $598 Billion.

Could you even imagine if we spent that much money on anything else? What would the budget be to colonize Mars? To end global hunger?

Perhaps I see it this was because I have nothing vested in cosmetics. I don’t “put” on my face every day. You see, I have a strong allergy to most cosmetics. You don’t really want to know what’s in most of them. Even Web MD has warnings.

I can only use dye-free, scent-free products. The dye is an issue, but the scent in most products causes me huge issues. Given what cosmetics are made of, the makers have to use scent to cover it or no woman would put it on her skin.

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I used a bunch of different products, desperately trying to find eye make-up that didn’t make my eyes swell. Or foundation that didn’t make my skin red and itchy. Or lipstick that didn’t my lips hurt and make them swell. It didn’t matter if it was L’Oréal, Clinique, or Channel. Nothing played nice with my skin.

One afternoon many years ago, my soon-to-be-husband asked me if I needed to wear it at all. He told me I looked exactly the same with it as I did without, and besides, he hated wearing my lipstick if he kissed me.

That was the last day I ever wore make-up. I threw it all away, bought some dye-free, scent-free lotion that my dermatologist had recommended, and I never looked back. Do I sometimes miss making my long but fair lashes look dark? Yes. Do I miss my eyes swelling, or getting red and angry? Nope.

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About what my eye and the skin around it looked like after a bad reaction. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve changed the lotion I use, but it’s still dye and scent free. And my skin never reacts poorly to it. This says a lot because my skin reacts poorly to a lot of things, including the soap in public bathrooms. I have to carry hand-sanitizer in my purse or risk soap getting caught in my wedding ring and making my finger swell too large for the ring.

Abstaining from cosmetics hasn’t meant perfect skin, and I do get a bit of redness or an occasional breakout, but I stick with a gentle cleansing routine and lotion and it clears up pretty quickly.

I’ve seen other women who struggle with their skin and use cosmetics to combat it. I’ve often wondered if wearing makeup has actually made the skin issues worse for them, forcing them to buy yet more products.

Interestingly, science says my inner skeptic is in on to something . Yes, there is evidence that cosmetics are not good for your skin, which can lead to needing more products. Of course, there is no cosmetic company willing to fund such a study. Or, if they have, they haven’t released the results. So there’s only a handful of research out there.

But, there is also a such a thing as withdrawal from makeup. Because of course there is. You get customers to buy something they don’t need, and it has addictive side effects that include the release of testosterone when you quit using their products. This testosterone spike causes more skin issues, so you go back to using their products.

This isn’t growing into a $675 billion dollar a year industry because people need lipstick. They’ve made us want their product,  but it isn’t an innate want.It’s a manufactured one, and they’re going to make it hard to quit them if you ever choose that route.

Not condemning wearing make-up. You do you. Heck, I was so into the stuff at one point that I suffered elephant eyes to wear it. I miss mascara the most. I’ve got long lashes, but they’re fair. Really miss the mascara.

We all make choices and get to decide how to spend our hard earned money, but perhaps it’s something to think about before buying your next tube of lipstick or bottle of mascara. Remember, even in the early 1900s, make-up wasn’t popular and was mostly used by prostitutes. War paint indeed.

The rise of make-up came right along with the rise of advertising so they could make us want it.

Whatever you choose, it’s never unwise to take a moment to think about why we do what we do. To make sure it’s our choice, and we’re really doing what we think is best for us rather than what an advertiser may think is best.

Looking at you, commercials.

 

How about you? Ever get sucked into a product because of an advertisement? Do you regret it? Or maybe you came to love the product?

 

When You Fail the Test

Kids test you. A lot.

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Patience has never been one of my virtues. Even now, if you want to really rile me, have my computer decide to take it’s sweet time when I need something done.

Kids do this all the time. It’s the way they’re wired. They must test boundaries, push you, and see exactly what they can get away with every single day. Because, you know, the rules have changed in the last eighteen seconds.

Like all kids, mine have their annoying little quirks. The youngest refuses to eat bread crusts. Even if you cut the crusts off the bread, she’ll leave the last little ring of bread on her tray as if it were a crust.

So, there’ll be half a sandwich of crusts on her tray, and she’ll toss them to the floor and ask for more.

She is also an insanely picky eater. We’re trying to decide if she can grow-up healthy living on nothing but peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt, and fruit. She’ll eat any fruit under the sun, and a lot of raw veggies, but heaven help you if you offer her a piece of chicken. The offending morsel must not be allowed to stay on her plate. Oh no. It gets chucked across the room.

We’re working on that.

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Meal time is never a treat in our house.

Getting ready in the morning can be even worse, especially as we have a deadline to get out the door.

It’s amazing how difficult it is to get two kids into their coats, hats, and mittens and get them out to the car. Of course, then comes the bucking bronco as I try to get the youngest into her five-point car seat. You’d think she was going on a roller-coaster ride with the safety restraint system rather than the three miles to daycare.

This is when I yell.

Why am I so angry? Because we have places to go. Because I don’t want to be late to work myself. Because I want to be doing something other than dealing with their shenanigans.

And that’s the crux of it.

A lot of my test-failing is directly related to being frustrated. To want to do something – have a family meal, get to school on time, put them to bed – that they don’t really want to do. So, they resist. Sometimes directly by throwing themselves onto the floor, and other times indirectly as they refuse to be able to find their hat on thirteen degree day.

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Ask a kid if they want to go to the zoo, and see how fast that hat, mittens and coat go on!

My frustration is especially evident after a long day at work, or when I have expectations that may not always be realistic for small children. As this is my first time with kids, I don’t always have realistic expectations.

I don’t want to be the parent that’s always angry. I want to enjoy the beautiful little creatures that inhabit this house with me.

To try to get there, I’m trying to accept that there’s going to be a lot of times that I’m not going to get what I want.

I might not get a full hour of writing. I might have to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to go with the three oranges and eight strawberries she’s having for supper. But in the end, my relationship with them is worth the sacrifices. They are amazing kids. For the most part.

I’ve also learned to start getting ready in the morning sooner. If I get them to daycare ten minutes early, no one really minds. It saves a little of my sanity, if you can call someone that has voices in her head sane.

I’m figuring it out, and I’m making mistakes along the way. But I figure as long as I approach parenting with love, I can’t screw them up too badly.

 

How about you? Any coping techniques when things really frustrate you? Or getting kids ready in the morning? Ever have to deal with a picky eater? How did you handle it? Or maybe you’re the picky eater?