Monday, December 4, 2017

Prey Eyes

There's a neat little trick in the environmental-education world to teach kids about one of the adaptive differences between predator and prey species.  Predators, broadly speaking, will have eyes that face forward, giving them a large area of overlap in the field of vision of each eye (aka "binocular vision") and, therefore, better depth perception.  Prey species, on the other hand, tend to have eyes located more laterally, which sacrifices binocular vision for greater peripheral vision--which is probably a good trade if your life depends on your ability to see an attacker in time to flee. 

To demonstrate this to kids, form "OK signs" with both of your hands, then put the circles formed by thumb and forefinger up to your eyes.  Your palms will force you to look straight ahead.  This is "Predator Vision."  Now take your hands down and cross them, and place the right OK sign over the left eye and vice-versa.  Now your vision is directed outward to either side--"Prey Vision."  Of course, this doesn't actually increase your peripheral vision, but it does focus your attention in the appropriate direction.

I think about this little mnemonic while I'm jogging. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017


I was sad yesterday, disappointed and insecure-feeling and restless.  I have a ritual for this, though I'm not claiming it's a good one: I loop-listen to sad songs on my earbuds to keep anything from distracting me from my mood.  And because misery loves masochism, yesterday I took my show to Trader Joe's.  ON. A. SATURDAY. I know you feel me.

I was wandering through the dairy section (none of which I can actually consume anymore), when an older woman stopped me abruptly with her hand on my arm.  I wondered if I had done something wrong, and fumbled with an earbud quickly so I could hear what looked to be a lecture brewing.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Spinning My Wheel...

I spent today spinning.  I'd like to claim it was a concerted effort to #makeeveryday, but it was really more like "procrastinate (or maybe distract) the day away." (procrastinate away from things like migrating this blog over to a WordPress platform, the process of which feels obtuse and insurmountable to me, or distract away from the fact that my daughter--have I mentioned?--is in LAS VEGAS, without me).

Spinning is an ancient craft wherein you take fiber, stretch it out, twist it, et voila! turn it into yarn.  The fiber could be plant (flax, cotton, hemp, bamboo) or animal (silk, cashmere, wool, alpaca, angora rabbit, mohair, even dog fur).  Today's spinning started when I went "stash-diving," a process in which people who engage in fiber related crafts try to forestall an impulse purchase of YET MORE fiber or yarn by reminding themselves exactly how much they already have, amassed and unused.  In my case, I actually went stash diving as a precursor to "destashing," a process by which the overly-stashed decide to sell off some of their unused hoard to other fiber crafters, exploiting the other crafters' moments of weakness while attempting to recoup a portion of the considerable money they have as that least liquid of assets, craft supplies.  In the process I sorted out a significant quantity of fiber to destash, and smaller portion to keep (#kondoeveryday) and a single braid that I decided to spin, right now, today, even tough (or more precisely, because) I had other, more pressing and pragmatic things to do with my time.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Rebel Mom

I’ve just left my firstborn in Las Vegas.  LAS VEGAS, a city I was proud to have never set foot in until nine months ago, when at the age of 44, I took my daughter there to tour the college. University, rather, a huge one, 30,000 students, the size of the entire *city* where I attended high school.  And now she’s here, on this campus, in this triple digit heat, a quick two miles from urban chancre that is the Strip.

I’m writing this from a quiet hotel room, a modest Courtyard, where I sit ALONE.  I am alone with a pool, a king sized bed, and enough disposable income to purchase any manner of alcohol, chocolate, or bath salts I might desire.  Years ago, when the children were wee, I would’ve given 1.5 ovaries for this very setup—silence, personal space, and maid service—and yet I sit here alone, missing my daughter, who is striking off into this next chapter of her life.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Common, Not Normal

TRIGGER WARNING: Graphic description of sexual assault.

We can clutch our pearls all we want over the grotesque misogynous circle jerk of Howard Stern and Donald Trump, but our quivering with moral outrage seems a tad disingenuous when one of those men is this year's Republican Presidential candidate and the other served as a judge on "America's Got Talent," where he somehow managed to serve four years without referring to a single competitor as a "piece of ass." Perhaps we simply feel no need to state out loud what we already know: There is, by and large, very little consequence for misogyny.  Brock Turner's judicial abortion of a sentence was outrageous not because it was an outlier, some monstrous anomaly, but precisely the opposite: because it was so utterly predictable, just the most recent in a long line of egregious examples of how utterly consequence-free rape is.

For the rapist, anyway.

To describe the consequences on the other side of that inequality, I don't think I can touch the statement penned by Turner's victim in terms of its eloquence or power.  But maybe I can shed light on what precedes sexual assault for so many women in America--not the immediate precedents dissected by juries, the media, and legions of armchair psychologists, things like clothing choices and intoxication and dating history and race and socioeconomic status and and and.  But the cultural morass that normalizes sexual objectification, degradation, and ultimately assault from virtually the moment the doctor says "It's a girl!"

What follows is one person's experience only--mine--and I offer it up, like the Brock Turner sentence, not because it is anomalous, but rather precisely because it is so utterly, devastatingly commonplace.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

44, The Year of ZFG

I can’t decide if the hair was the cause or the effect, but this:

Is definitely the official hairstyle of Zero Fucks Given.  As I’ve described before, I began my transition to grey hair on the day my father died.  What I may not have described is the decades of hand-wringing that went into that eventual decision.

I found my first grey hair when I was away at summer swim camp.  I was 12.  By 23, I was sporting enough grey hair that, when I finally dyed it, a coworker gushed, “Oh, honey, that hair color takes 10-15 years off of you!”  “So I look like I’m 10?” I asked.  The confused look on his face made me realize that he honestly had no idea how old I was—or more to the point, wasn’t. 

After my first divorce, at the age of 25, I chopped my hair into a short pixie and let the grey grow out.  I noticed an immediate shift in the people who hit on me.  More women for starters, but also a different subset of men.  Some older, some younger, but all had a certain non-conformist streak.  And that’s when I realized the value of Appearance As Filter.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Dear Universal Studios: Does Everything Have to Be So Rapey?

Right around the time Brock Turner was getting a stern tsk-tsking for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, a group of us went to Universal Studios to celebrate one of my best friend's birthday.  I was dreading it maybe just a smidge, because even the lure of Harry Potter World was struggling to offset a four-hour round-trip drive to mill about cheek-to-jowl with thousands of other people on the hottest day of the year to date.

But I went! With my friend and three of our collective four daughters,  And Harry Potter World is all that and a box of Chocolate Frogs, seriously, totally worth the trip and the exorbitant price of admission.

Maybe it was just that Brock Turner (or perhaps his dad, infamously lamenting his son's lack of appetite for rib-eyes after "20 minutes of action" had landed the poor misunderstood collegiate swimmer rapist in hot water) had flipped the "confirmation bias" switch in my brain, sure felt like rape was everywhere.