What is a Kim Kardashian and how do I get it off my Internet?

Wikimedia Commons.
I honestly didn’t know. I very seldom watch TV and I think generally that all the tripe about celebrities is…tripe.
Looking her up, I see she was a model who “rocketed to fame” after a sex tape was leaked in 2007.  Oh, OK. Got it. She’s a porn star. A female humanoid who seems, after all is injected and implanted and applied, to be made largely of plastic. Queen of the Photoshop selfie. She mostly seems to be famous for being famous.
I still have no idea how to not see her. Everywhere I go, I am confronted with that gooey smirk.
Kim Kardashian isn’t the only one wasting space out there. There’s tons of other things. President Obama is destroying America with a coffee cup. (Wow. He’s a lot more powerful than anyone gave him credit for.) Justin Bieber uses drugs. (Yeah. News flash.) Look 20 years younger with this $5 trick! (Or, just look $5 poorer.)
This nitwittery is taking valuable space away from things we really should  know and care about. That fact isn’t what really bothers me. What really bothers me is that Americans eat it up. Every time we click on stupidity, we set it up to get more of that stupidity flung at us. Garbage in, garbage out. It’s demand and supply. If we ignore the tripe and read what matters, we’ll get more of what matters.
What matters? The ubiquitous They, the wealthy few, pretty much own all the things that make up our lives, and we let them get away with it. Our government. The energy we use, our climate and our very planet. Our food supply. The education of our children. They own the media too, which explains the crap news we get. We should care about this.
We have prejudice and discrimination so rampant and insidious that they are embedded into the infrastructure of this country and act against every American who isn’t a straight white Christian male. If you are a person of color, if you are LGBTQ, if you are Buddhist or Muslim or atheist or whatever, if you are female, if you are any combination of these — this means you. If you are male or you are white or you are straight, you benefit from this corrupt system even if you don’t promote it. We should care about this.
We have media that insist on pushing a ridiculous standard of beauty at us and urging us at every turn to take well-earned lines off our faces, eliminate the gray, lose weight, dress like models, plaster goop on our faces, and by all means look younger because old=bad. In line at the grocery store the other day, I counted 24 tabloid and magazine cover lines collectively designed to make me believe I look like hell. That’s not counting the cover photos of celebrities who have been personally trained, dressed, made up, coiffed, and Photoshopped. I’m supposed to look like that, but they don’t even look like that. Women are destroying their health and even dying because of this. We should care.
We have a health care crisis that is far more than health care coverage: it is the rich getting richer off of medications and treatment that Joe and Jane Sixpack simply cannot afford. A thousand dollars for one blippin’ pill. That’s what health care reform needs to be addressing. We should care about this.

And speaking of health, we should certainly care that there are cretins who are not vaccinating their children. This is classic stuff (language alert, but then, it’s Penn and Teller):

Seriously. These are things we need to be paying attention to, and all we care about is that Lindsay and Britney still can’t get their shit together? It’ll be news when they do.
OK, I’m done ranting. I have to go be productive and study for my statistics class, which I anticipate will teach me even better how to look critically at stupid crap pushed at me by the media. I’m going to love this class.
But first I have to clear my browser history. Heaven forbid I drop dead and my family think I’d actually read anything about Kim Kardashian.
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More things that make me happy.

1. Lighthouses. And ice halos.

My dream house has been a lighthouse for as long as I can remember. I think I must have been a contented lighthouse keeper in a past life. I love the power of the ocean and I love the power of storms. If I could live inside the two together, I don’t think I would mind a bit being awake at all hours.

Alki Point Lighthouse, West Seattle.

Ice halos are formed around the Sun or the Moon when ice crystals in the upper atmosphere reflect and refract light. They signal storms nearby. My shot of the Alki Point lighthouse inside an ice halo is one of my favorite pictures.

2. Fiddleheads.

Creative Commons.

Ferns are cool. Beyond groovy-cool. Ferns are the kind of cool that comes from being on Earth for more than 350 million years, even before the dinosaurs, and from covering the forest floor deep under the canopy, lush and secret and timeless. A fiddlehead is a new shoot, unfurling on its way to becoming a fern. Fiddleheads have that whole divine proportion thing going on. They’re also a highly seasonal delicacy, delicious sauteed in butter. They grow wild in the Puget Sound area and I would love to forage for my own.

3.  Monster.

When you graduate summa cum laude, you stand where you want to.
Even more special than most sons are, because I never thought to have children at all. His name (his real one) means “gift of God” and he has been. Monster is cool, funny, wicked smart, handsome, accomplished. I raised him to know that real men love their mothers and he never went through any stage of refusing to let me hug him in public. He needs to get his grad student butt up to U-Dub so I can stop missing him so much.

4.  Wine. Because, wine.

Arista Wine Cellars, Edmonds, WA.

5. Being silly.

People who let themselves be silly and goof off live 15% longer and are 75% less likely to suffer from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and toenail fungus. Okay, I made that up, but I’m pretty sure indulging your inner child is nothing but good for you. And people who put Bugles on their fingers are less likely to gain unwanted weight because they are as apt to play with their food as to eat it. Okay, fine. I made that up too.

You stink. Yes, you.

A few decades ago the tide started rolling over cigarette smokers. More and more places set aside non-smoking areas indoors.Then smoking was shunted outside, until eventually more and more municipalities ultimately legislated bans on smoking in public places. A decisive win for people who recognize that their health is threatened by smoke, and for those who just don’t like it.

Perfume is the new cigarette smoke. Or, it should be.

You who wear too much of the stuff are torture to be around. You assault my nostrils, and through them, my other senses. I get a whiff of that overbearing stinkwater and my eyes water, my vision goes blurry, and my head starts pounding. My very equilibrium is thrown off. And I have to function like that all the time, because you are everywhere. You come into my office, your perfume announcing your arrival 25 feet in advance. You leave a cloud behind you that open windows and oscillating fans can’t get rid of. You sit next to me on the train, gagging me so much that I will move, clutching a strap and standing for the 30 minute trip if that’s what it takes to get away from you. You are 10 feet away from me outside, downwind, and I can smell you.

You’re wearing too much.

I’ve had good restaurant meals ruined by You Who Bathe In Your Perfume. Your chemical miasma wafts into my face. It coats the back of my throat so I want to gag, and I can’t taste my own food. If I still smoked, I’d happily light up and blow clouds right in your face. I’m tempted to anyway. It would be worth getting kicked out.

You’re wearing too much.

My grandmother, a true lady, taught me about personal scent. The thing to remember, she told me, is that it is personal. It allures, it teases, it creates a subtle note of mystery. It doesn’t overwhelm. Other people shouldn’t be able to smell you unless they are right up close to you – we’re talking inches, not feet. If you are putting on real perfume from the tiny bottles, moisten your fingertip and apply on your wrists and at the pulse of your throat. If you are using spray cologne, spritz a mist in the air and walk through it. That’s all you need. You should only be able to smell your own perfume if you hold your wrist right up to your nose. If you can smell yourself without trying, you’re wearing too much.

Smelling good is good. But when you make people’s eyes water, you are not attractive. You are the opposite of attractive. Pay attention. Do people cough or fan in front of their faces when you walk by? Do they raise their necklines to cover their noses? It’s you. They’re not acting like that because they find you delightful. You reek.

Is there something you’re trying to cover up? Do you not bathe? Are you that afraid of your own natural scent? The beauty and hygiene industries make billions of dollars by convincing us we smell bad without their chemical-laden products. I’d bet you own every “deodorant” or “fresh scent” or “spring meadow” version of every hygiene product you use, but it’s hard to tell through the cloud of cologne. Oh, and here’s a news flash:  if you’re drenching yourself in perfume to hide the fact that you smoke, it’s not working. Now you just smell like stale cigarettes and cheap perfume. (The breath mints don’t work either.)

You don’t smell anything like Marilyn looks.
Trust me.

I’m not against the concept of perfume.  I like to smell good, to smell sexy.  Perhaps it’s the alcohol used to set perfume oils that gets to me.  I make my own scent, my unique combination of essential oils that I dilute in distilled water and dab on like parfum. It doesn’t cause problems like commercial perfumes do, so maybe that’s the answer. But I also don’t pour a tub of it over my head.  It drives my husband wild, and part of that may be because he has to nuzzle my neck in order to smell it.  That’s what perfume is for.

If you don’t care that you annoy the hell out of people, consider that you are a hazard to other people’s health. For many people perfume is a bona fide medical concern, a severe one, triggering everything from sinus attacks, nausea, and migraines clear on up to anaphylactic attacks. Most commercial perfumes smell the way they do because of the chemicals that are in them, that the manufacturers aren’t even required to divulge under the “trade secret” doctrine. Chemicals. Toxins. Poison. Read this if you don’t believe me. Read it anyway. More and more workplaces ban the use of perfumes, for good reason. (Maybe not the altruistic reason of caring about their employees’ health, but the practical reason of not wanting to lose a lawsuit.) Health care providers are number one for banning the use of perfume or scented products on the job, because they know better. Why do you insist on making other people breathe that?

Still. I’m not going to allow you to save face by claiming I have an allergy. I suspect a lot of people say they have an allergy when they really don’t. They probably hope you’ll take them more seriously. It shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t take believing that you are adversely affecting someone’s health. The simple knowledge that you are offensive should be enough.

Easy does it!

Oh, wait…maybe I can use that allergy bit. Maybe I should claim I’m allergic to bigotry…and people who yap on their phones in public…and door-to-door religion peddling…hmmm…

Marilyn photo:  scarletSmth@flickr-Creative Commons.

It makes me happy to write about things that make me happy.

So that’s what I’m doing today.

This is not by any means an exhaustive list. These are the few at the top of my mind this morning.

1.  These colors.

Autumn is pretty, and spring is pretty, and winter is pretty when I’m looking at pristine snow on the other side of a window, with my hands cradling a steaming mug and a snapping fire behind me. (Rare in Seattle. Winters here are just gray and soggy.)  But I am a summer person.  I like ripe. I like full. I like a cold drink in hot sun and a breeze off the water. I like juice running down my chin. I like the way lush green growth and azure skies replenish my soul.

The forecast says this should be the last nice weekend for many moons. Today’s to-do list: plant my butt in a deck chair with a book.

2.  Dream Girl.

Possibly the only time I will arrive at a coffee house before she does.

My daughter has been Dream Girl since she was 4 and said, as I was tucking her in one night, “Sometimes I wonder if I’m really real, or if someone is just dreaming me.”  Co-creation as a bedtime story. ~boggle~ She is an enigma, a walking bundle of contradictions, a child genius, a smartass, a snugglebunny, a giver of unconditional love to those who know how to accept her, a more amazing conglomeration of DNA than I could have imagined if I had dreamed her up. I learn way more from her than I teach her. I have paid more than one price to have this astounding being in my life, and I would pay them all again and again to keep her.

3.  Petunias.
The house of my childhood, in Aurora, Colorado, had a large back patio surrounded by a brick planter that my dad filled with a color riot of petunias every spring. Even if I only have space for a small pot, I always have petunias now. It keeps Dad with me a little bit. Bonus: hummingbirds like petunias, too.

4. Other people’s old sticks.

Creative Commons.

When I was in second grade I carted home another kid’s show-and-tell contribution, a small tree branch with a cocoon on it. It had been sitting in the classroom not doing anything, long past the time when it should have opened. Its contributor was bored with it and the teacher said it had to go. It sat on my bookshelf, looking steadily drier and more crinkled, stubbornly refusing to do anything else cocoon-y, finally fading into the backdrop of comforting things that composed My Room. Weeks later I went to my room after dinner and saw this stunning creature sitting in the middle of my bed. The whole family crowded into the doorway, staring in wonder. Finally my dad carefully gathered it up and set it free outside. My mother checked the encyclopedia (I had the conscientious sort of parents who bought encyclopedias) and we all learned it was a Cecropia moth. My room was never the same; it had been dusted with magic.
The lesson is not to give up on things. Transformation happens in its own time.

5.  Brownies.

I had to use this photo from Wikimedia Commons because I have no brownies in the house. As drama mirrors life, tragedy
makes its appearance in the midst of this piece on happiness.

Not necessary to expand upon this, except to say that now I want some. For breakfast. Brownies for breakfast makes me especially happy.

I should have figured this stuff out by now – updated

Hi!  I’m wearing eye shadow!
1.  Eye shadow. I’m in the 50+ Club and I still can’t apply it without looking like Blinky the Clown. I used to blame my mother for that, since she forbade it rather than teaching me how to wear it, so naturally I resorted to putting it on with a trowel in the school bathroom and washed it off before I went home. But even after I passed the age of 14 and got lessons from women who wanted to sell me expensive “Spring” makeup (remember “what season are you?”), I still can’t work those applicators. I give up. In my defense, I was never any good with charcoal pencils or paint or even crayons for that matter.
2.  Omelettes. Maybe it’s all in your wrist, but it’s not in mine. I have always been singularly uncoordinated; I can trip over lint on the carpet. Special omelette pans don’t help. I just make scrambled eggs with stuff in them. It should be the same but it’s not.
3.  It’s not all about me. When friendships end or other estrangements take place, I always torture myself wondering what I did wrong. Logically, I know there’s a good chance I was not even remotely the cause. Sometimes life just happens and people move on without you. And even if it is something I did, if it’s bad enough to end the relationship over without even talking to me, then my problem was a relationship with someone who didn’t care enough to try to work things out.
4.  My phone. Self-explanatory for anyone older than 25.
5. Yarn. I tried to learn to crochet. I can make a chain that goes from here to the Mississippi River, but don’t ask me to loop back and make an actual item out of it. I can knit but with two needles only, not three and certainly not more. Basic stuff with corners, which removes most garments from my repertoire but also keeps me from knitting fugly toilet paper covers, so that works out. My knitting is mainly for therapeutic purposes anyway, so I’m mostly content with being limited to rectangles.
My lack of expertise aside, I would absolutely love to take part in the graffiti form of guerrilla knitting seen here. I mean, it makes me smile just to say “guerrilla knitting.”
But while we’re on this subject, I have a hard time believing that anyone is dexterous enough to hand-produce the finished products I see knitters and crocheters proudly displaying. Unless I personally watch you making it, I am going to believe you took a nice photo of something you bought at Aran and snipped the label out of. I’m not judging. I can’t be the only person to have thought of that.
6.  Gardening, although I’m somewhat improved and have even managed to keep a begonia alive for a whole month now.This is a recent development and I’m not going to jinx it by making assumptions this early in the game. I trust our government less and less and have determined that growing my own food is something I should know how to do. I planted a few veggies early this summer, happily envisioning wandering out on my little deck and picking a bowl of salad. The reality, not so much.The beans look promising but the lettuce is scraggly. The radishes…how do you tell when there are radishes ready under there?
Nope. No radishes.
7.  The Soccer Mom thing. My son played for a year. The real Soccer Moms accurately intuited that I was an impostor and accordingly didn’t talk to me unless it was necessary (i.e., “Excuse me, you’re standing on my foot.” Actually, I can do a whole bit on being The Soccer Mom the Other Soccer Moms Don’t Speak To, and just might). My children had the “oh, her” mother in the neighborhood. The mother who did not bake cookies, who did not compare toothpaste brands, who wouldn’t have been caught dead driving a minivan. I was the mom who would stay home sick with my son because we’d had an all-night Baldur’s Gate marathon. When my five-year-old informed me she didn’t have to eat carrots because dryads can’t digest vegetables, I let her skate on the basis of creativity. If you were dumb enough to eat off my floor, you deserved whatever you got. But — I did an awful lot of things right, too, and I raised great kids who maintain they hit the Mother Lotto. Those are ramblings for another time. Fluoride, schmuoride.

8.  It really will be all right. I don’t know why we go through the things we do. Karma, a life lessons curriculum we pick for ourselves before incarnating, random chance, some kind of cosmic system of checks and balances, reenacting the life of Job, or what…there are many schools of thought. They might all be wrong, and they could all be right too. Maybe I’ll know the answer someday. But one thing I’ve learned, if I stop to think about it, is that it may not work out like I want  it to, but it does work out. I need to remember that and quit all the worst-case-scenario-ing.

* UPDATE

The beans kept their promise. I ate my entire harvest in one sitting, but I grew my own food!

Insomnia, Part Ninety Bajillion Thousand and Four

Substitute baby elephant videos for cat videos, and I have lived this exactly.  I’m watching it now, at 2:50 a.m., because of course I can’t sleep.  I was asleep. I woke up at 12:21 and now I can’t nod back off.

My hips hurt.  I’m not old enough to have arthritis like this. Well, apparently I am, since I have it. Oh yes, I have to remember to get more Tylenol. I should start a list. I don’t want to get up because that’ll wake me up more. I can remember Tylenol without writing it down.

Baby elephant videos! Now I want to go to Africa. I should have done that years ago, finished college then and joined the Peace Corps. I could have gone to Africa. Maybe I still can. No, the Peace Corps isn’t going to take an arthritic, insomniac 50-something and send her to a third-world country. Not without a gazillion waivers about the lack of modern medicine.  But Africa has elephants! Africa has shamans too. Maybe a shaman could help me sleep. Couldn’t hurt.

I could just go to Africa on my own. But that would cost a lot of money. I don’t have a lot of money.

Relax about money, willya?  Aren’t you always all right?  Your financial aid will be there right after the quarter starts.  Our Congress of baboons hasn’t shut down the government like they did last year. You already got your award letter. The money’s just waiting for you. Relax. Things always work out. But what if it doesn’t this time? It will.

It’s hilarious that a group of baboons is called a congress. My favorite is a murmuration of starlings. I would like to see a real-life murmuration of starlings. Do we have starlings up here in Seattle?

I miss meadowlarks.

I still want to get a bird feeder. I keep forgetting to get a bird feeder.

Aaarrggh, so tired! If I don’t get some sleep, I’m going to die.

I wonder what happens when I die?  I guess I’ll find out when it happens, and am I really so impatient to know this?  What if there really isn’t an afterlife? What if we humans cling to the notion of an afterlife simply because we’re so egotistical as to refuse to accept the possibility of our just not being? I’ll guess I’ll find out when it happens.  But what if it’s nothing? Then I won’t know.  I won’t exist to know.

Now I want to turn on all the lights and crawl under the bed, except I wouldn’t fit under there even if I were still skinny, which I’m not. And there are probably spiders.

Great.  I’m trying to sleep in a bed that has spiders lurking under it.

If I fall asleep now I can get 3 hours.

I bet I could go to sleep if I read a boring book.  I don’t have any boring books. I don’t keep boring books on principle.  Now I wish I hadn’t returned Anna Karenina to the library. Not to bash on you Anna, but your book was kind of a slog. I’m rereading Catcher in the Rye now but that won’t put me to sleep. I like Holden Caulfield. He’ll just keep me awake.

I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who can honestly say they’ve read War and Peace. Maybe I should get a copy for nights like this. Twofer: eventually get some sleep, and eventually be able to say I’ve read War and Peace.

I wish that tranquilizer would kick in. Sometimes they don’t. If I get back to sleep in the next 40 minutes I can get in one complete 90-minute sleep cycle and hopefully not wake up feeling like I’m hungover. That means I have to turn the computer off.

Pretend you’re on a train. You always feel rested when you sleep on a train, even if it’s just dozing, even if you nod off while sitting up, getting kinks in your neck. You’re so insulated, speeding through the world but not of it, because the world is flying by and you’re sitting snug in the blanket you always take, safe with the night on the other side of the window, out there, where it can’t touch you…