Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Miley Cyrus: Vanity Fair Do or Don't?

You'd have to have been living under a rock or in a cave to have not heard about the Vanity Fair photo controversy involving the 15-year-old Miley Cyrus.
The photos are tasteful, yet even my extremely open mind was a little taken back at the sexualization of a girl who really is still a child.
I've been reading blog after blog and have been interested to see how differently folks are thinking of this. Celeb blogger Perez Hilton keeps referring to her as "slutty" ( pet peeve of mine). This from a man who draws pictures of penises on celebrities, so yes, he is certainly the purveyor of good taste. And of course that moral compass himself, Bill O'Reilly, a man I cannot tolerate, was talking about it, saying she should go on Oprah and apologize.
Even actress Jamie Lee Curtis wrote a column for the Huffington Post about parenting our children in the era of Britney and Paris.
I've been thinking a lot about all of this over the last 24 hours. I write about pop culture and follow all these young women. But, closer to my heart is the fact that I am a mother of three - two sons and a daughter. When I see photos of a young girl like Miley the first thought I have is: is this how I'd like my daughter portrayed to the world?
Last week photos of Miley from MySpace leaked onto the World Wide Web and we all saw pictures of her showing her stomach and her lime green bra. They made me very sad for several reasons.
In the larger scheme of things it seems many girls feel the only way to get attention and be special is to flaunt their bodies and sexuality at younger and younger ages. And we in the media do not help things. Girls seem to feel their only value is in their looks and ability to be sexual. I caught a bit of "Middle School Confessions" on HBO the other night and was shocked, completely shocked at what these 13-year-old girls were doing.
Over and over young women like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton are shown getting lots of attention for not wearing underwear, dancing on tables and even going to jail. Good Lord, CNN covered Paris getting out of jail in her designer jacket and jeans.
My daughter is 22, and about to graduate from one of the best women's colleges in the country. I am relieved that she's as old as she is and I don't have to navigate this minefield of skanky behavior that is hitting girls at younger and younger ages.
The thing is we can't have it both ways - we can't be a culture that shows salacious commercials during the Super Bowl and then wonder why our daughters think they are only valuable if they have big breasts and grant sexual favors to boys in the back of the school bus.
When my daughter went off to college I remember driving on to this lovely collegiate campus and seeing banners flying from all the lamp posts that said, "Women Who Will." I want my daughter to be a woman who will see that as beautiful as the outer package may be, she is so much more. My wish is that every girl would get that lesson.
The fervour over Miley Cyrus' pictures will fade, but maybe we should be paying more attention to the lessons within the drama: How can we help our daughters see there is more to them than what they look like? What kind of women do we want our daughter's to be? And what can we, as a culture do to support them in seeing their value as people, and not just commodities?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Life Coaching - Could It Be The Answer To Your Questions?

Readers of this blog may or may not know that besides being a writer I am also a trained life coach.

I decided to go through the training after a life coach helped me post-divorce. Sure I did therapy, but after a while even I got tired of my whining. My coach helped me to see everything I had to look forward to, and not get mired in the past. He helped me map out a path to the future, my future.

What I found was a whole new and yes, happy life. I also found that I loved helping others, especially women in transition to do the same. I'm a natural born cheerleader and love supporting people in discovering who and what they truly want to be.

While I've been madly creating a writing career I have kept just a few long-time clients, but have decided that I would like to take on a few more people who are motivated and ready to change their lives for the better.

Have you always thought of trying your hand at writing a column for your local newspaper but don't know how to go about it? Don't know how to get yourself out there in the dating world after a breakup? Want to lose weight and get in shape? Hiring a coach is like having a little secret weapon, someone who is in your corner and who's sole purpose is to support you, and call you on your stuff when you're not following through - but in a nice way!

Coaching is not a substitute for counseling. Coaches are not trained to deal with issues like clinical depression. What we are trained to do is hold our clients accountable and help them reach the goals they set for themselves. Yes, there is homework, but how great is homework that's all about you?!

For the most part coaching in done on the phone (how convenient is that?) so it doesn't matter if you're in Los Angeles and I'm on Cape Cod.

I offer a free session to see if we're a good fit (any coach worth their salt does) - very important in coaching. I do not ask my clients to hang crystals, believe in "The Secret," or do anything new age-y, unless they want to.

And please know, that while I write about silly things and try to make people laugh with my writing, hopefully successfully here and there, that is my writing voice. It is a piece of who I am, not all of me. Hopefully we'll have fun while we work at creating your best life, but I approach supporting and helping my clients very seriously.

You can e-mail me through my blog, and let me know if you'd like to give coaching a try. You've got nothing to lose, and maybe a whole new life to gain.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Apparently Chivalry Is Not Dead - At Least in England

I was reading a post on one of my favorite blogs, Jezebel the other day, and came across a study that was done by a British online dating site, Dating Direct, about chivalry.

It seems that 56% of the guys surveyed said they enjoy picking up the tab for dinner, and 34% said they have defended a woman's honor.

I am probably going to incur the wrath of every feminist out there when I say, I kind of like that.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I can take care of myself, but you know, I don't always want to. There, I said it: Being able to do it all doesn't mean you want to always have to do it all.

I love the idea of a guy noticing the air in my tires is low, his offering to lift something heavy, and telling me after as long day, why don't I put my feet up and he'll make me some tea.

Is this chivalry, or it is just being kind to the person you love? I might not do those exact things for a guy - unless a tire is flat I can't tell what it's up to, I can help lift heavy things, but I'm no Incredible Hulk. But I would make tea, cookies and even a lasagna if so desired.

To my way of thinking there's a big difference between chivalry and sexism. Someone wanting to look out for you does not take away your power or your independence- it makes you feel cared for and appreciated.

All right, so maybe I've watched a few too many movies with princesses, but I've also watched my fair share of Katharine Hepburn films, and I know women are strong, powerful and capable. I also think it's all right to be vulnerable.

There's a line in the movie "27 Dresses" where James Marsden's Kevin says to Katherine Heigl, "I think you deserve more than what you settle for. I think you deserve to be taken care of for a change."

Wanting to be taken care of a little bit doesn't take away any of your super powers, especially if it's by someone you want to take care of right back.

So, I will cherish having doors opened for me, my hand being taken to help me out of a car, and a jacket being put around my shoulders because I look chilly.

It doesn't mean I can't be a best-selling author or anything else I want to be, it just means I am well loved, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow?

In the last couple of weeks I have seen Maria Shriver all over the talk shows promoting her new book, "Just Who Will You Be," and have taken note of her voluminous locks. Maybe it's partly envy - my hair has never bounced and behaved quite so lusciously, but I've been wondering if it's time for her to let the super-long hair go. At some point does it make you look older or does it keep you young? I don't know.

My hair is no where near as long as Shriver's, but with a hair appointment coming up, I've wondered - how long is too long at a certain point in time?

Actresses and women in the limelight, like Shriver seem to get away with it more than those of us in the "real" world. The women I see here on Cape Cod with long hair are more of the stick it up in a bun variety, not the type who are spending hours wrapping hot rollers on their heads.

There comes a point in every one's life where they realize certain things aren't age-appropriate, and it's not a happy time. I am lucky(?) that I have a daughter who is MORE than happy to tell me when something just isn't a fit - be it size or style-wise.

A few years ago I showed up at the school where I was working with braids in my hair. The school nurse was quite honest (and did me a big favor) when she said, "Uh, that's not working." I realized that just because I felt young didn't necessarily mean I should style myself like an 18-year-old.

I've been poring over magazines and accosting people on the street (well, really only at the gym) to ask them about their style - who did their hair? Are they happy with it? Is it easy to maintain? Hey, I'm a reporter - I've got to get my story, even if it is just about my hair.

I have a couple of more weeks before I go and get the blond put back in and make the decision of just how far to go with a new style. I've spent the winter letting it grow so my options would be many, and now I just don't know what to do. For every cute Jenny McCarthy haircut I see, I then see a gorgeous shot of someone with luscious, long locks like Gwyneth Paltrow though my hairdresser is always quick to point out that right out of camera range is a hairdresser with a brush, curling iron and lots of product.

Certainly there are more pressing world issues, (and really, in my own life as well) but our hair is special to us. And it's not just women who love their hair- look at the lengths men will go to to stave off the loss of their locks.

For right now I am going to stick it up in a pony tail and go for a walk. Hmm, if I cut it I won't be able to do that anymore, will I? Oh my, it really is becoming quite the hair-raising decision.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Gossip Girl" - The Best Show Ever?

I don't admit to many people how much I love "Gossip Girl." Well, unless you count this blog and the readers of my twice-monthly newspaper column, "Pop Goes the Culture." Yeah, I guess the whole world is privy to my inappropriate love for this show.

I had a bit of a debate with my editor last week who thought I had referenced the show a little too often in my column, but felt totally vindicated when New York Magazine put the teen drama on the cover of a recent issue with a story titled, "The Genius of Gossip Girl." Apparently I am not alone in my GG love.

I am way above the teen demographic for this show, but somehow I find myself inexpicably drawn to the salaciousness of the show. My high school experience was certainly nothing like this, and really, that's what's so fun about it. I doubt, unless you are Gwyneth Paltrow that your high school experience was like this.

Why do I love GG? Let me count the ways:

1. Chuck Bass. The incredibly spoiled son of a mogul, Chuck is evil, calculating and manipulative. But, the optimist in me sees the vulnerability underneath the sleazy exterior - I think Chuck just wants to be loved.

2. Blair Waldorf. As the Queen Bee of her group at Upper East Side prep school she wields her power in a mean-spirited self-serving manner that is painful yet fun to watch. I've never understood people who enjoy humiliating others, but find it kind of fascinating to watch.

3. The Upper East Side of New York. This pricey bit of real estate is about as far away from where I live on Cape Cod as you can get. There is a certain vicarious thrill to seeing how blithely people throw money around on personal care, clothing and where they live. As I sit on my sagging couch it's kind of fun to see perfectly appointed homes where money is never an issue. None of these families seem to be concerned with rising health care and oil prices. It's a nice break from reality.

4. Rufus Humphrey. Matthew Settle plays the struggling gallery owner father of Dan and Jenny, and he is the only grown man on the show who I would ever think of dating. He is a little lost - his wife has moved to Hudson, (not sure where that is not being a New Yorker - but it doesn't matter, this cute guy is single) and still in love with his social-climbing former girlfriend, Lily van der Woodsen (who is also the mother of his son's girlfriend, Serena -confusing?).

5. Josh Schwartz. Schwartz is the creator of "Gossip Girl," and was also the creator of "The O.C." - another favorite if mine. This guy has an incredible knack for creating characters, settings and story lines that keep you coming back.

But really, the star of the show is "Gossip Girl" herself. We never see her, though her voice is that of Kristen Bell. No one knows who she is, but everyone pays attention when her texts come through.

I don't care that perhaps people think I should be watching "Masterpiece Theater" instead of this teen drama (which I do watch as well by the way). "Gossip Girl" gives me an hour of total escape. I try not to question too seriously why these high schoolers are allowed in bars and are drinking mojitos and martinis - a certain suspension in belief is needed.

Given the relatively dull nature of my everyday life - sitting for hours at a time in front of a computer trying to churn out amusing literary tid bits, it's kind of fun to live vicariously in the Upper East Side of New York. Even if I know would be cast as the mom, not the hot teen.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Full- Frontal Afront

I went to see "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" yesterday and while I knew what to expect I was still a little (nothing personal Jason Segel) taken back by seeing all of Segel's bits and pieces.

I have to say that movie producer/writer/director Judd Apatow has done more to even the playing field of movie nudity gender-wise more than any other filmmaker in recent memory. Seriously, we've seen more, well, packages (not of the UPS persuasion) and backsides in the last four years or so than we have seen since Harvey Keitel revealed all in "The Piano," or Mark Wahlberg amazed us all with his prodigious prosthetic pecker in "Boogie Nights."

Where gender-bias is still very evident however is in the bodies of the typical Apatow male versus the females. Seriously - Kristen Bell's rockin' abs as Sarah Marshall? Yeah, amazing. Segel's doughy bod? Eh, not so much. I have long contended that very few actresses would be hired repeatedly if they looked like Will Ferrell, or if they were above a size 2. I wonder - would audiences line up to see or even believe, that Daniel Craig in the next installment of "James Bond," could be hooking up with "Ugly Betty"? I'm not so sure.

While most Apatow men are "every man" kinds of guys, the women are far from it. As I sat in the theater yesterday I wondered how many women who look like Kristen Bell or Mila Kunis would go for a Jason Segel or Will Ferrell? If they weren't super-successful movie stars?

Maybe it's a geek fantasy. Apatow himself is no Clooney, but he is married to the lovely Leslie Mann, so maybe his thesis is correct: women will go for funny over handsome time and again.

I laughed my way through "Knocked Up," but had a hard time completely suspending belief that someone as beautiful and ambitious as Katherine Heigel's character would go for a pot-smoking slacker like Seth Rogen's.

I'm the first to admit that I think smart and funny supersedes movie-star looks, but most of these guys aren't exactly rocket scientists, and seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on their couches clutching a bong.

The good news is scripts, like those penned by Segel in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," do dispel some myths about romance - like love only happens between beautiful people who live in gorgeous apartments and wear designer clothes. I give these guys props for that.

And, while I'm on a bit of a self-imposed dating hiatus I appreciate the chance to view the male form and getting to see what I am and I am not missing. Thanks Jason Segel for taking one for the team, and for making me think that for now, being alone ain't all bad.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Like Running With Scissors - Stuck in My Leg!

All right, so I have been feeling really good about myself this week. See I do exercise, but I never really take it up a notch and push myself. Not this week - I decided, inspired perhaps by the upcoming Boston Marathon, to do a little (accent on the little) more.

I live near a pond and there's a lovely, albeit steep hill that leads down to it. So feeling super-energetic one day this week, I decided while out for one of my brisk walks that during a couple of my loops I would walk part-way down the hill and run back up. And you know, I kind of liked it! I felt energized, powerful, a little like a super hero!

Now I have never liked running, just ask my high school gym teacher. It's always hurt and it just was too hard for my less-than-enthusiastic body. Walking and aerobics classes worked just fine thank you very much.

So this morning, instead of sitting here writing (which I say has never injured me) I was all excited about going for my walk/run. For the first time it's actually warm, and I couldn't wait to get out there.

I walked for about five minutes (I should make clear I didn't stretch beforehand which may be important to know later in the story) and walked down the hill. I was smart though, on this first-go-round I walked back up the hill, even so my shins felt a little weird, but being the jock I am (yeah, right) I walked it off. Okay, so round two, I strode down that hill and ran back up, and ended up with the most painful muscle cramp in my calf that I've ever experienced.

Since I'd managed to walk off the shin splint or whatever I'd had before, I thought, okay, I can walk this off too. Uh, not so much.

The fact that I hadn't stretched was now not lost on me as I limped around my neighborhood, periodically stopping to lean on a mailbox to stretch my leg. I kept looking around for potentially mocking glances from neighbors, but thankfully no one else was out yet.

I assumed that after I got home, rubbed it for a minute or so and stopped moving it would go away. I was wrong. Here I sit an hour and a half later and it still hurts. I've stretched, I've rubbed and I've whined, none of these efforts has helped.

I'm torn between feeling frustrated by the fact that I was really having fun doing something new, and now I've injured myself so I don't know when I can try it again, and utter embarrassment. Seriously, people run 26.2 miles and running up a hill of about 30-40 feet has sidelined me. What a wuss!

I don't like it when my body rebels against me, I'm not very patient. But I will try to be kind to my screaming calf muscle and treat it kindly so I can try my ascent up my own "Heartbreak Hill", however paltry it is again soon.

I know I'll never commit to running a marathon, but I would like to be able to walk through my neighborhood without ending up limping and in pain. That doesn't seem like too much to ask.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

I spent last night being interviewed for an Internet radio program called "Books and Beyond."
Now, if you're anything like my children you are probably wondering why the heck anyone would want to spend an hour listening to me because it's the last thing they'd ever want to do. I must admit the same thought crossed my mind as well.
I did a pre-interview last week, and sent them some biographical information, and when I was sent the PR release being sent around by them I had a moment where I wondered who they were talking about. I almost kind of sounded like someone. We're all someone, but you know what I mean.
After spending countless hours interviewing others I admit it was a little strange (and kind of fun) being on the other side of the mic and/or notepad. Seriously, who doesn't like to talk about things they're passionate about - like their work?
I realized when talking to the host, that my path has been kind of interesting - stay-at-home mom to assistant to the director of a school, to life coach to writer. It's not exactly a well-trod path, that's for sure! And if I can encourage one person to be true to themselves and take that road less traveled, well, that's great!
It's so easy to play small, and I'm no different than anyone else. I get so excited when opportunities come that force me out of my little comfort zone and show me what I really can do. I'm well aware of how much of a play-it-safe woman I can be. Well, to a certain degree - I'm a pretty big risk-taker betting on my writing ability and not taking a more secure path. But I actually sometimes think that's lunacy, not risk-taking.
I saw Maria Shriver on "Oprah" yesterday talking about her new book, "Who Will I Be?" She was surprisingly candid about how she lost a sense of self when her husband became the governor of California and she had to give up her television journalism career (NBC felt she could not be perceived as impartial when reporting) and was absorbed by being the First Lady of California. It made me see how we all struggle and question who we are and our role in the world. It seems so often we are what we do, who we're married to and who we mother.
Everyone has a story, and everyone has something to say. I'm not sure that I had anything more important or interesting to say (I can hear my kids saying, uh, no) than anyone else. I think what sets some people apart is a willingness to make a fool of yourself; to stammer and stumble your way through an interview and to skate on some thin ice.
I looked at this as an opportunity to practice for the next step and the one after that. I have no illusions that I am the best writer in the world, but what I do have is an iron will and dedication to my craft. I also have just enough craziness to keep doing it, even when common sense says maybe I should go work at a local bookstore instead of striving to have books on their shelves.
Life truly is what you make it, and really, what's the point if you're not taking some risks and doing what you love? I'm going to keep plugging away because well, I have no Plan B. Plan A is my path and after the fun I had last night, I'm thinking I've made a good choice.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fo shizz, "Juno" is out on DVD today

I confess, I am a Diablo Cody fan. A really big fan. As a writer I am pretty obsessed with words, which, I guess given my profession is a good thing. I saw "Juno" in the theater three times, and will see it several more times I'm sure on DVD.

Academy Award winning screenwriter, Cody created a world within "Juno" that came to life thanks in large part to the incredible Diablo Cody-isms throughout the movie.

I've always admired writers who are so incredibly clever, I felt the same admiration for the "Sex and the City" scribes who created words like "cashemiracle."

So, bear with me as I share with you some of my favorite "Juno"-isms.

1."Up the spout" - meaning pregnant

2. "Technically that would be kicking it Old Testament" - prospective adoptive dad, Mark's retort to Juno's desire for an old school closed adoption - like Moses delivering a baby through the reeds.

3. "Phuket, Thailand!" Juno's friend's response to her pregnancy.

4. "'Thunder Cats are go!'" Juno's announcement that her water has broken.

5. "That ain't no Etch-a-Sketch. This is one doodle that can't be un-did, home skillet." Rainn Wilson's reaction to Juno frantically shaking a positive pregnancy test.

But, my favorite line is Juno talking about her birth mother who left when she was young:

"Oh, and she inexplicably mails me a cactus every Valentine's Day. And I'm like, 'Thanks a heap, coyote ugly. This cactus-gram stings even worse than your abandonment.'"

At 29, Diablo Cody has an incredible writing future ahead of her. A part of me is incredibly envious of how her brain works, (though I suspect it's pretty exhausting inside that head)but more than anything I just want to tip my keyboard to a writer who has, in her first-shot out of the cannon had such tremendous success.

I keep up with what Diablo's doing and working on from her blog on MySpace, I know it's a little weird how much I like her, but I am totally not in love with her, I swear! Honest to blog!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Silent Night, Long and Sleepless Night

Trouble sleeping seems to have become epidemic in this country. Not wanting to stand out, I have become one of the afflicted.

I rarely have trouble falling asleep, probably because I'm totally exhausted from not sleeping well the night before, and the night before... well, you get the idea.

Where it gets dicey for me is that 2-5 a.m. window. I wake up, inexplicably, and then it starts - the crazy-scary thoughts.

No, not fear of monsters under my bed, the only monsters are residing in my head. These are the monsters telling me I'm doing it all wrong, or if I'm feeling particularly Kanye West-ish, wrong-er.

There's a veritable laundry list of how my life is going to hell in a hand basket that runs through my head in the twilight of my bedroom: bad relationship, job and food choices. "Why did I eat those crackers before bed? I have NO self discipline!" More often than not, lately it's money."Why oh why did I not choose a stable career like finance?" Oh wait, maybe that wouldn't have been so stable either. Choosing to be writer in 2008 is a bit like choosing to be a painter, of the artistic persuasion, not house. Having a passion and hopefully some talent for something doesn't always assure financial reward, but somehow during the daylight hours when I'm tweaking my novel one more time, or seeking larger freelance markets it all seems quite doable. It's during the dark of the night when the demons arrive, carrying weapons of self-doubt and fear.

So I cope by trying to turn it off and going back to sleep, sometimes that works. Or I might try to find a movie to watch which is challenging at 3 a.m. I don't know why programmers don't realize that if you're up watching a movie in the middle of the night, scary and torturous probably isn't what you're looking for. Funny, yes funny would be good.

When I do finally fall back asleep within an hour or so there's something that inevitably wakes me up - my cat attacking my toes hanging off the end of the bed, and lately...birds. Now that it's April, the birds are back and they start talking to each other about God knows what, because my Lord, it's 4 in the morning and they don't stop. Particularly annoying are the mourning doves. A morose reminder of all my awful thoughts of the night. I worry they are there for a reason, telling me something I should know already - they are there to mourn that career that could have been, perhaps if I hadn't been too tired to pursue it more fruitfully.

I refuse to take anything for sleep - too many scary Ambien stories of people doing things in the middle of the night - like eating thousands of calories or driving - and not remembering them. So, unless it's warm milk and honey I won't be ingesting it.

I figure the only cure for this problem is becoming the queen of all media and therein a millionaire. But then I suppose a whole new set of worries inevitably crop up - like worring about how the economy is impacting my investments, and what if I never think of another idea for a book even though I have signed a contract for 2 more... oh my God! That could SO happen!

That's it. I am declaring a moratorium on worry. It doesn't do a thing for you anyway. It robs you of peace, of sleep, health and happiness. So, no more worrying, that's it.

But what if I can't stop worrying? Maybe I have so engraved the neuropathways in my brain that I will just keep on worrying even when there's nothing to worry about. Oh man, I think I just found a whole new thing to worry about...

Friday, April 11, 2008

"The Office" is finally back, babe

I cannot tell you how excited I was last night to finally have "The Office" return after five months with no new epsodes. The show didn't disappoint.
I am an unabashed "Office"-phile (hey it's early, you'll have to excuse the bad pun). I have still not quite recovered from the cancellation of my other favorite show, "Gilmore Girls," Tuesday nights still aren't the same, but the "Office" helps ease that pain.

Thanks to last night's episode I have a new-found love/repulsion for being called, "babe," the moniker relentlessly used by Michael and Jan.

For those who don't watch "The Office" it's hard to explain why I love it so much. But I will do my best to tell you the top five reasons why I am such a devotee.

5. The character of Creed is creepy and yet somehow I can't not watch. "I’ve been involved in a number of cults both as a leader and a follower. You have more fun as a follower but you make more money as a leader." Yes, Creed is scary, but so incredible.
4. The writing. Much of the cast are also writers, and they are geniuses. I still chuckle when I think of Kevin describing a pizza from the bad pizza parlor in town as tasting like, "Hot circles of garbage." Or, the classic Michael line in this clip:
3. Jim and Pam. Since they FINALLY got together, I have been so happy. Jim and Pam belong together and we all know it. Sorry Karen.
2. "That's what she said" jokes. I know it's juvenile, but what can I say? It's so easy, anyone can do it. That's what she said.
1. Dwight. It's hard to put into words the man who is Dwight K. Schrute. Beets, bears and "Battlestar Gallactica." Those pretty much do it.
Apparently I am a woman of very simple needs. "The Office" makes me happy and makes me feel good. That's what she said.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Looking for Spring to Sprung

Look at this photo and think about all the images you have of Cape Cod. Yeah, this is what those of us who live here year-round get to see. It's not exactly lolling on the beach and eating ice cream while window shopping in Provincetown.
Spring on Cape Cod just doesn't exist. It's winter until about June 5, then it's summer. Sure we have daffodils and crocus' and all the rest, but we also know they could be buried in a light dusting of snow or at the least pummeled by rain at any moment.
The funny thing is, as long as I've lived here I get spring-amnesia every single year. I turn the calendar to March and I feel like I can see this imaginary finish line of winter being over and spring coming - any minute! But it never does, and I am left feeling bitter and used, fooled once again by ads for spring clothes and cute shoes.
The thing about the Cape is being coastal there is a dampness here that gets into your bones and doesn't let up. I've spent time outdoors in other places and it's not the same. Spending time outside - especially at the end of the day - will make you colder than you feel in January.
Every morning I stand in my closet trying to figure out what to wear. I go through the limited selection hanging there, limited even more by the fact that I have to find something that will keep me from shivering and my fingers turning a lovely shade of blue. My wardrobe seems limited to a sea of grey and black - I'm actually wearing both lovely tones as I write this. I look at my cute pink sweaters and shiver - I know there's no way I will last an hour in one of those flimsy numbers.
I fantasize about living somewhere that has actual springs - and I wouldn't have to go that far. Tomorrow we're supposed to have a high of 57 (which doesn't sound bad considering it's 28 right now) but in Boston they will hit close to 70.
The upside of all this is when it's in the 90s during the summer off-Cape it's cooler here. I'll try to remind myself of that when my kids call me tomorrow to tell me how they're walking around Boston in shirtsleeves while I'm wearing a wool hat and parka.
I know the warmth will be here soon, the ca-ching of my furnace constantly running, a faint memory. Until then I will dress in my less-than-flattering layers and find something to distract myself - like practicing my whine for how hot and humid it will probably be in August.
Until then I will deal by drinking lots of hot tea and sitting on my heating pad. Brrrrrrr.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Talking Smack and Hurting Ourselves

I wrote a piece for the Cape Cod Times last week about gender bias in reporting on celebrities. My point was that the media is often much harder on female celebrities than male.
I've noticed the pattern in my covering celebrities like Britney Spears and Heath Ledger; seeing the difference in how her emotional breakdown was handled VS his death. I think there is often a lack of respect shown to the women, and I am tired of it.
I've been aware for a while of how the media is treating George Clooney's girlfriend, 28-year-old Sarah Larson, but with the release last week of some somewhat salacious photos, the attacks got worse.
Now I am an unlikely defender of this young woman, George has been my make-believe boyfriend for several years now. It wasn't easy seeing him lip-locked with the pretty brunette, but I truly only want the best for George, so I have adjusted and dealt with the loss.
What amazed me was how many blogs were referring to the former waitress and model as a "slut" and a "whore." These are harsh, mean words.
The situation seemed to reach a new level when I read that George had been receiving threatening phone calls to break up with the "bitch" "or else."
Like I said, I have joked for years about wanting a date with George, thinking I was truly the best woman for him, but the level of hate leveled at a woman who has done nothing to hurt anyone (expect maybe dash a few fantasies) is truly ridiculous.
It started with ripping her dress choice for the Oscars to shreds, a dress I thought looked lovely and feminine. Every week since then we've heard from former roommates and boyfriends, all talking about how wild she is. So what?
Hey, I'm the first to admit that I wish George was interested in a woman who is a mom, likes to bake, and is funny and smart. And has an affinity for Hello Kitty. But he likes women who are young, beautiful and maybe a bit wilder than this one. Totally his prerogative. There is no need to call her bad names and find things wrong with her just because you can't have him!
It's 2008 folks, it's time for women to stop tearing each other apart. Let's stop acting like pre-teen brats and support each other rather than calling each other sluts and whores.
So my friends, do what I did, let go of the dream of ever being with George Clooney and accept the fact that at least for now he's made his choice. I do admit that I haven't given up all hope - there may come a time that Sarah wants a guy closer to her age, and I'll be right there to swoop in to rub Icy-Hot on George's sore muscles and happily tell him he's still the man. I'm woman enough to do that, because I know he'd be lucky to have me, and I don't need to call anyone else a slut to feel that way.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Working Out How I'm Working Out

I was offered a free session with a personal trainer at my gym this week and decided to go for it. Mostly because I knew this guy wasn't going to let me not do it. For months Steve kept telling me he'd love to work out with me and help me out. This was either the nicest of compliments or the biggest of insults. I prefer to believe the former.
Like most people who go to the gym, I have my little routine, accent on the little. A few years ago I was a complete gym rat - there 5-6 days a week. Three aerobics classes a week, weights, elliptical trainer, treadmill...I was dedicated. And a little nuts. I actually kind of burned myself out - mentally and physically. And then I went the other extreme and became a slacker. My goal has been to find the happy medium - not easy to do in a sweat-filled space surrounded by folks who like me, never think good enough is actually good enough. But, I've fallen into doing my thirty minutes of cardio at a respectable - read not super challenging - pace, some weights, a little yoga and I'm done. So, I decided switching it up and challenging myself might not be a bad thing. Especially since I've noticed my little muffin-top on my jeans growing into more of a bundt-cake.

Thursday was the day. Steve told me to be there at 8:30. I have to admit I arrived at 8:40. I had a deadline damn it! As I drove there I admit I felt nervous, I wasn't ready to look like Jennifer Beals in "Flashdance." I liked my little comfortable routine. It wasn't particularly challenging, but it worked. Sort of.

Steve went over what limits I might have (thankfully we didn't get into the psychological ones). There were the knees that aren't wonderful, a lower back that gets tweaked, and a right shoulder that has been impacted by too many hours straining toward a computer mouse. As I listened to myself I sounded like a wreck.

He asked me what I did for legs. Um, nothing? So we did some squats, done in a way to protect my knees. We did upper body and some abs. And I was doing okay. It wasn't horrible, I was actually having fun. I'd started off looking at the clock thinking 50 minutes sounded like a lifetime, but it was flying by.

There were several advantages to working out with Steve. One, he's really cute, so that was a nice distraction. Two, he'd get things for me. I needed a different weight? He was right on it. In my real life no one fetches anything for me, so this was a real treat. Three - he made me do more than I would have on my own. We all know how easy it is to let ourselves off the hook and slack off. Why do twenty when 15 was easier? And lastly, it was a fun distraction, when we were talking about movies those tricep dips didn't hurt nearly as much.

By the afternoon I could feel a little soreness setting in - mostly in my butt from those squats. When I woke up on Friday morning and slipped my favorite sweater on I was made newly aware of my pectoral muscles. But in a good way.

I went to the gym Friday morning, did my thirty on the treadmill, but I upped the incline! And I even did some more squats and a couple of the other exercises Steve had shown me. I didn't push myself as much as he did, but I had upped the ante a little.

Steve said he wants to work me out again, and if he wants to, who am I to say no? Who knows what fire he might light under me.

And there is another added bonus -While I'm spending all my time trying to get my novel finished and writing for the paper, it's about as close to a date as I'm going to get. Hey, whatever it takes to get me through that third set...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Looking a Little Red About Trying to Go Green

I've always tried to be somewhat green. I've recylced for as long as I can remember, been mindful of wasting gas and heating oil, (especially now!) and just try in my everyday life to do my part to help the planet .

All of these efforts led to a monthly column, "Be Green," in the paper I write for, the Cape Cod Times.

Now that I write this column, I'm more aware than ever that I need to walk my talk. But over the last week I became aware that there are times that I'm a bit of a green loser.

With my daughter home last week I was more scattered than usual, and each of the three times we went to the grocery store I forgot my reusable shopping bags. Each time I pulled into the store parking lot I had a Homer Simpson, "D'oh!" moment, but wasn't about to waste the gas to come home to get the bags. I do reuse the plastic bags for other household tasks, but I felt so guilty! I was also extremely self-conscious that someone would see me and think, "We're supposed to listen to her?" So I kept my head down and skulked my way to my car, crinkly plastic bags flapping in the wind, mocking me I'm sure.

In another effort to do my part I have changed most of the incandescent light bulbs in my home to more energy-efficient CFL bulbs, though I must admit I don't like them as much. I have never enjoyed the light from fluorescent bulbs, and I've spent many months trying to convince myself that it's all in my head (or my aging eyes) that I can't read or do projects as well in their more muted glow. But, when my daughter said she couldn't see as well as she needed to while working on crafts projects and changed a lamp back to an incandescent bulb, I realized I wasn't alone. When she screwed in a 75 watt bulb it was like someone had literally turned on the lights.

I feel so guilty. I've now become aware of the times I don't feel like cleaning the stinky cat food can, and the morning I felt chilled and took an extra long shower, I was bathed in shame.

I know that I do try hard to do my share, but I also know it's not enough. We could all do a lot more. Earth Day is coming up at the end of the month and it should serve as a reminder to all of us to do whatever we can. Especially if you have the hubris to write about it!

I'm going to try harder from now on. Really I am. Cat food cans? Totally recycled! Grocery bags? Only reusable. Just please don't tell anyone that I didn't change that light bulb back, and damn it, I even switched one on my desk back to an incandescent.

I think I have just put my big ol' carbon footprint in my mouth.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Let's Talk Write About Sex

I belong to a writing group where we're all working on novels. We support and critique each other, and periodically we are challenged to try something to stretch our skills.

One of the members handed out a couple of chapters of a new book, "My Enemy's Cradle," by another Cape-based author, Sara Young for us to see how she handled an intimate scene. It was done very well, and is something I haven't ever been real comfortable writing myself.

In my novel there are a couple of scenes, nothing tawdry, but I find I squirm when I write them fearing I'm going to go down the road of heated bodice rippers, and wondering what my children will think (not that they ever read anything I write).

As I pondered writing this post, I thought about scenes in movies that I thought were well done. Not movies featuring nurses, pizza delivery guys or twins, but movies of the R rated variety.

One of the hottest movies I've ever seen is the one pictured above,"Out of Sight," the 1998 film starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. The heat between the two of them was palpable, and extremely hot. Part of it may have been the classic opposite attract story line: Clooney is a "bad boy," a criminal on the lamb, while Lopez is the cop hot on his trail.

Or, it may not be as much the way screenwriter Scott Frank adapted the Elmore Leonard novel, but the fact that with two of the hottest people on the planet, how can you miss? Look at that tango scene in "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," the film where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie got together, as soon as I saw that I knew Jennifer Aniston never had a chance.

When I was working on writing my monologue for the Vagina whatever it is I was asked to submit to, I became painfully away of just how hard it is to write a really good sex scene. Again, I'm talking about something tasteful, meaningful, and maybe even funny. It's a fine line.

I wrote and deleted and eventually put my monologue on hold while I worked on some more pressing projects, mostly because I was stymied on how to do it. (There are SO many opportunities in that sentence for "that's what she said jokes" I am physically restraining myself.)

I figured out fairly quickly that you want to stay away from certain key words:
4. Pulsating
5. Moaning

After that the sky is pretty much the limit. I am going to spend some time later trying to compose something to bring to group this week. I think watching that clip from "Out of Sight" repeatedly may offer lots of inspiration. Or it just might make me feel really bad about my present social life.