Today's movie was Born Into Brothels.
I'm also trying to work out a food budget to live on, roughly $200 a month and for all foods made from scratch, and healthy to boot. Good luck, self!
Every warrior society has a “purification ritual” to help the returning warrior deal with his “blood guilt” and to reassure him that what he did in combat was “good”. In primitive tribes this generally involves ritual bathing, ritual separation (which serves as a cooling-off and “group therapy” session), and a ceremony embracing the warrior back into the tribe. Modern Western rituals traditionally involve long separation while marching or sailing home, parades, monuments, and the unconditional acceptance of society and family (Grossman, 1996, 252-272).
To motivate myself to get fit (not just to lose weight but to get healthy!) I bought some new clothes. I never buy clothes, so this is a big thing for me. I also got birthday presents for Damian and Lear. And spring things for the house. And I downsized Lear's toy and book collection today. He was seriously overwhelmed with stuff... I hope this helps his distractability just a little. Oh yeah, and he was seriously walking today. Not just taking steps but walking! The other day he got into the pizza box though. Damian took a picture of the guilty little fella:
I'm on a documentary kick... I watched Sicko a few nights ago, then The Business of Being Born, and now I'm doing Supersize Me. OK, so they all totally have agendas and really unbiased, but they are hella interesting...
Sicko just made me depressed, because there's really nothing we can do about health care. It's impossible to live without it, really, but at least I will probably never get coverage in the traditional sense. Let's hope my next check comes back cancer free, yeah?
TBOBB made me feel good, in a way. There really was nothing new I learned from it, but I did realize how far my brainwashing, er, educating Damian has come. With Lear he wouldn't hear about a home birth much less a UC. This time around, he was much more comfortable with the whole process and confident that it was a natural thing to be trusted. That's a big thing for me.
Supersize Me, which I'm almost finished watching, is motivating me to take more control of the foods we eat. I've been trying so hard to but I'm realizing I'm failing badly. I have to figure this out though, even if it's not my forte. Down with processed food. ;)
I’m in the area just outside of the sauna and bathing pools, where women come to towel off, dry their hair, and put on makeup. I’m trying to work my way through something on my mind, but I keep getting distracted by the woman next to me, who is putting on lotion loudly, deliberately. She begins with her stomach. It is the stomach of a woman who has birthed children — filled out, lined, round and wide — and with her open hands she starts from the sides, slapping the lotion on and pushing the flesh up, momentarily smoothing her skin and waist, fighting the toll of years and gravity. She works on this area for a while, molding and pulling and shaping, all while studying herself in the mirror with, I think, satisfaction.
The patting, slapping, and kneading keep pulling me from my thoughts, punctuating them with irregular bursts of sound and motion. I watch her, trying to pinpoint the source of my annoyance — everyone is working through their body rituals here, putting themselves together before heading back out into the world. She makes more noise than the others; her gestures are more dramatic. The performance strikes me as self-indulgent, vain.
And yet I also admire her. If I had a daughter I would want her to see this. I would want her to be here with me, looking at the women in this room: young girls at the brink of puberty, their breasts just starting to round, old women with skin hanging about them like folds of drapery, stooped and walking gingerly on the damp floor. Their bodies provide a record of their lives: scars of surgery or injury, calloused hands and muscled arms, breasts and hips transformed through childbearing and nursing.
If I had a daughter I would monitor and manipulate the demographics of her visual space. I wouldn’t want her to associate women’s bodies with Britney’s latest panty-less flash or the bony stares of supermodels or Girls Gone Wild. I would want her to have a good sense of the life-cycle of the human body. Here in the bath she could get a more accurate picture of the range of the normal.
The nudity of the women in the bath isn’t in the service of provocation, seduction, or titillation. I’m happy that women are free to be sexual beings, but what happened to the rest of it? I would want to shape the boundaries of my daughter’s visual environment, hoping to influence the way she sees her own body, as something which exists not just to court someone else’s gaze. As Lance Mannion once wrote, “The constant fetishization and eroticization of female beauty in magazines and on TV teaches many women to fetishize their own bodies.”
The woman next to me has moved on to her thighs. I admire her skin, it looks soft, smooth, well cared for. She bends down and grunts a little as she wrangles the flesh of her upper legs, massaging as she goes. The flesh on her back and arms is pink from scrubbing. She turns to her face, applying toner and various lotions in well-practiced order, smoothing her skin from neck to chin and from jaw-line to cheekbone, always up up up, a mini massage facelift. She watches herself in the mirror, focused although the motions look automatic, perfected over years of repetition of this ritual.
Americans obsess over our bodies but we’re not supposed to seem obsessed. We each have our own rituals — masks, manicures, diets, medications — but they are not public, they are secret, undercover. There is a publicness about the body here in the bath which both repels and fascinates me.
Standing there, looking at my own collection of lotions and potions, I try to unpack the meaning of this woman’s gestures, to imagine myself into her head. She watches herself in the mirror, seeming unaware of me watching although I don’t discount the idea that she may be performing for some imagined audience. She carefully sculpts herself, tracing the contours of the body she has and wants, reacquainting herself with the creases and surfaces. These are my thighs, this is my stomach, this is the shape of my bottom, this is what my skin feels like. This is a ritual re-making of her body. By lavishing attention upon herself she declares her ownership and control. Deliberately tending to her body, unashamedly spending time on it, speaks to her sense of care-taking, cultivation, and transformation.
There’s a pleasure in her movements. I pause, thinking of my hypothetical daughter, wishing to retrieve for her the full range of bodily pleasure. Sexual pleasure, of course. Having come from the kind of cold day when the wind seems to cut through my coat, the pleasure of sinking into a pool of hot water. The feeling of letting a good piece of chocolate dissolve around my tongue. The pleasure of cuddling a chubby three year old who loves me above all. The relief of someone scratching my back exactly where it itches. The permeating heavy lightness of laying down in my own bed after a long day. The pleasant kind of soreness I experience after a good workout which allows me to feel and appreciate every different muscle. The exhilaration of running really fast, of feeling my body and breath find its own harmonic rhythm, of moving through space with what I imagine to be grace and agility, if only for a short time.
The pleasure I take in performing feats of athleticism, in the feeling of physical power, are not so different from this woman’s pleasure, I think in a flash. Maybe this woman would find me grotesque, the way I walk fast, arriving places sweaty and slightly disheveled. The way I take the stairs two at a time and throw cartwheels in the playground. Maybe should would think of me disgustingly and dramatically physical, indelicate, unfeminine. But walking fast and taking the steps are the way I worship myself, the way I remind myself of the enjoyment of being embodied and healthy and alive.
I stand there and dry my hair, untangling the strands, remembering a Bitch PhD post I read years ago describing a trip to the locker room. Many commentors spoke about the difficulty of feeling attractive and comfortable with one’s body as it ages. I remember thinking that feeling attractive and comfortable were not necessarily related. One may influence the other, but perhaps part of being comfortable is inhabiting the body without feeling that the body’s sole purpose is to attract. Perhaps the power and pleasure of the women’s after-bath ritual and my own quick stride come because I am aging and I sense my body changing under my finger tips. One could, I suppose, read this women’s dogged massaging as evidence of dissatisfaction. I don’t remember even paying much attention to my skin or my hands until I started to realize that both were changing, losing elasticity, wrinkling, spotting. As my friend Ming once observed, “The older I get the more different types of lotion I own.” I don’t remember if I felt such joy at the ability of my muscles to remember how to jump when jumping was so easy — then, I was just hungry for the next accomplishment. Now I appreciate the ability to lift off this earth even though returning with a thud makes my knees ache.
Perhaps it is the silent threat of age and entropy that makes me imagine having a daughter when I come here. I look around and see my past and my future; the body in front of me in the mirror is not the same as it will be tomorrow. The woman next to me is putting her belongings back in the carrying case, ready to return to her locker and get dressed. I loop my key around my wrist, having completely forgotten whatever it was I was trying to concentrate on before.
Many times the pagan paths are rampant with a "do whatever works for you, no one way is right" attitude. While this is true, it can also be frustrating to have to pick and choose each belief, ritual, etc. Eclecticism can seem like a jumbled mish-mash of beliefs. While this can be healthy because we can truly decide what speaks to our hearts, it can also be frustrating at those times that you just want a simple answer. When describing pagan beliefs to a friend, it can be discouraging to describe a million ways of doing things.
None of the beliefs I hold are of my own creation; I didn't reinvent the wheel, after all. But I do believe that as a whole, the combination of beliefs is unique. And some of the beliefs Onyca combines are not strictly pagan but have flavors - philosophies, myths, rituals, etc - from other world religions. I could have settled for calling this path eclectic but something didn't sit right with that label after a few years. That's when I gave the path a name and decided to let it grow.
When I refer to my religious path, I refer to a tradition. Many in the pagan community have rules about what is and what is not a tradition, depending on how long a set of customs has been followed, or how many people follow it, or whatnot. I suppose these rules are supposed to weed out the flakes? I'm not sure. Onyca probably wouldn't fit into most of their guidelines, but still, I call it a tradition, because it fits several of the traditional (no pun intended!) definitions of the word. Per dictionary.com, a tradition is "the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, esp. by word of mouth or by practice."
I fully intend to pass this tradition down to my kids. In fact, one of the biggest inspirations for me to compile a faith tradition is my children. True, I want them to be exposed to many different faith systems and to be able to pick and choose one when they come of age. However, I also want to present them with a unified faith tradition to grow up with as well, one that isn't constantly being improvised and created anew. I grew up Catholic and while I am no longer a part of that faith, I appreciate having grown up with a religion that was a good starting point to my further religious studies.
And what better way to hand down beliefs is there than to put said beliefs into action? I want to celebrate the turning of the wheel with them. If I am granted enough years on earth to see them through to adulthood, I will hopefully have celebrated the cycle of seasons with them many times over, until the turning becomes embedded in them?
Another definition of the word tradition is "a continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices." This brings me to another interesting point... Culture. To keep from going off on a tangent, let's just leave it at that my kids aren't going to have a whole lot of culture to grow up with. (This is the case for a lot of American kids, sadly.) I have my Hungarian heritage and background, but it won't be the same for them, even if I teach them bits and pieces of that culture. Then there's their father's side, which is anyone's guess. (That sounds bad; basically, he was adopted, and both his birth and adoptive families are a mixed cultural bag.) Neither he or I have families, really, so there's no help there. And we will be in a brand new location without established family, friends, or history. And what exactly is American culture? Well. So we have to find cultural significance somewhere. I think religion is a pretty good starting point for that.
Finally, there's yet another applicable definition. In one word, it's "theology." The longer definition mentions "a body of laws, doctrines, teachings" etc. For me, this body includes various myths, artwork, etc. I think this is probably where things get stickiest; what gets included in the body? I suppose this is the part where I need to crystallize my beliefs the most, but I have a feeling this will be an ongoing process for many years to come, but I do have a good start on it.
As an afterthought, I just wanted to say that I am definitely not claiming that Onyca is the one true, right religion. But I wanted to define my beliefs as they stand, and making my webpage about my religion helped me organize my thoughts. Even if no one uses the site but myself and my family, it will have been worthwhile to create it, because it helped me on my path.
Today I cleaned out a lot of my hanging file drawer. I got rid of enough crap that now I can actually fit my daily files in the drawer too, totally freeing up desk space. Of course, one project always leads to another.
1.) I have a huge file of "nostalgia" papers etc that I want to sort out and organize into that "meaningful life story" stuff I was talking about in an earlier post.
2.) One specific project I want to do is to make a story about DH's deployment(s); and then maybe close the book on it. Hopefully. It's about time.
3.) I've decided to get rid of my desk organizer because it's a "misc junk" magnet. I can make do with a cup for pens.
Speaking of cups, I started paring down our kitchen cabinets of plates, cups, etc. It didn't quite work, plus I don't know what to do with our old plates. I thought of cutting down to six of each kind of plate, which seems like plenty at the moment, but eventually we might have company and also eventually the kids may grow up and actually *gasp* use the plates as well. We sure don't need twenty of each kind of plate (especially the teacup saucers - we don't even have the set's teacups!) but I'm not entirely sure how many we DO need... So I got stuck. Same thing with the cups, because we seem to have two of each kind of cup or glass, and I can't choose between them, so I just basically kept all of them... So that didn't work.
I also got down my clothes bin from the attic; I *think* there's another one up there because the one I found was totally disappointing. There's pretty much nothing I love or that fits very well in that carton. There's maybe two or three shirts that I was thrilled to see; I already bagged half of the rest for donation and the other half, well, I put away for further sorting... Funny how "out of sight" can translate to "amazing treasures I absolutely need" when really it's just storing junk. Like the fleeces and sweaters that didn't even fit me, were WAY too big, kept only because "one day my kids may think that Momma wearing fleece is cozy and we'd go for an autumn stroll with a Labrador retriever we don't yet own, just like I did once upon a time with my middle school friend and her mother, who was wearing a fleece. Except, that's totally illogical. Besides, HER fleece actually fit. So yup, that's out.
Backtracking a bit, to the filing cabinets... I found some papers from my ex-Honda (*sniffle*) and they had my dad's signature on them. It hit me like a ton of bricks. They weren't that old but from before his handwriting got all shaky. I guess de-cluttering is helping to free up some of my emotions towards him and his death as well. I wasn't expecting it to, but I guess you find progress in the darndest places.
Almost done, I promise. I glanced at my bookshelf earlier as I walked past it, and my eyes scanned the top shelf. My excitement towards them returned, after literally years of apathy. I guess that's why my English major killed my enthusiasm for reading; pure and simple overload. Pruning will help, I know it. And finally, about the progress with the music selection... that's not going perfectly but I've made a tiny bit of progress there too. Deleted some songs I actually liked, merely because they brought up bad associations. I only want music that makes me happy, not music that will make me remember times in my life I'm not fond of.
I've done this a few times before, once in high school, once in freshman year of college and a few more times since then. I've gone through my music collection (at first this was CD's, then mp3's) and either gave away or deleted all the music I thought no longer represented me. Of course it turns out that a lot of the CD's I wanted back after I gave them away, and as for the mp3's, I just downloaded them again. Now it's not nearly so simple because, well, I no longer download mp3's, and I sure as heck wouldn't pay some service to download a song just for nostalgia's sake. I suppose whatever song I really wanted to listen to I could find for free on the Internet, but it's not the same as having it on my hard drive (or flash drive) for immediate access.
Anyway, half the point of decluttering is to only keep what you love. Quality instead of quantity, right? So it would only make sense to keep the songs and CD's that really are loved instead of having a gazillion for whatever purpose. I know that for one brief stage, I based my musical choices (stupidly) on what others would think was cool. It was part of an image I attempted to manufacture for myself. How dumb. I deleted all that stuff long ago, but I still have so much music that I don't know what to do with. I want to keep them because they bring back some nice memory or I associate them with some specific time in my life, but that's silly. I have CD collections (which I only recently started listening to again) and I go through huge CD cases and find nothing I want to listen to. Just like I would look at my full bookshelf and see titles I wasn't really crazy about. But there was just too much for me; I was overwhelmed and couldn't find what I really wanted to listen to/read/whatever.
So now the point is to get rid of the emotional baggage regarding music and pare it down to bare essentials. This is difficult.
This month's challenge is to "Learn." I was trying to figure out what exactly I'm supposed to be learning. After all, it's a pretty wide directive. Last month, it was "Learn your Craft" and I finally figured out at the end of the month that my Craft is Mothering, and Homemaking. I was really attempting to put the 13 Goals into a religious perspective, but somehow the religious and the secular melded, and after all, why shouldn't they? Since when am I supposed to separate my daily life and God? Why am I supposed to box up God and only consider Him as "something other than," something different? We worship in our kitchen, for goodness sakes, not in a temple. (Although I do like temples and churches, but that's a different tangent altogether.) So I guess my Craft is not only "the Craft" and it's not herbal potions or moon correspondances or whatever most pagans, Wiccans, etc. consider their Craft. My Craft is my profession, my God-given purpose, my calling. Right now, it's mothering. And home making, as a traditional woman. That's my current Craft. I'm glad this has been made known to me. I haven't quite internalized it yet, but I'm on my way.
But yeah, back to this month's challenge. To learn. I'm not sure what it is yet. It would almost be easier if my challenge this month was keeping my words [or actions] or thoughts in good order. But we're not there yet. We're at "learning." Since at this moment I doubt I'm supposed to drop everything an enroll in a continuing education course or take up another language, or even commit to memorizing the healing properties of herbs, I'm not sure what exactly I'm supposed to be learning about. Learning is connected with Air, and I'm definitely getting that airy spring fever coming on... Maybe the Air will sweep in and clarify everything for me this month. Am I supposed to be learning how to be more "green"? Supposed to be learning more about my Craft, i.e. learning homekeeping methods? Learning how to control myself? Learning things about myself I didn't know? Learning... what? All of the above? None of the above? Sheesh.
So yesterday morning I was woken up by DH telling me he didn't want to stay in CT for another four years; he wants to move right away (well as soon as we can mobilize the troops and all). It took a while to process that and see if he really was serious, but he seems to be.
Later yesterday morning he phoned the disabled vet job assistance guy I e-mailed in January. From DH's perspective he is a nice guy and sounds helpful, and we'll meet him when we go out to visit CO this April. It sounds like he might be able to get the same kind of carpentry apprenticeship out there that he could here, except... we'd be out there. Which is the point of it all, right? So that part was taken care of.
Then I spent the rest of the day trying to find apartments and utility prices and that sort of thing online. Not to get anything specific, obviously, but to get a general idea of prices and availabilities. Apparently a decent managed apartment, 2 bedroom, about the same size as our place here, would cost (on average) about $650-700 a month, plus about $200 worth of utilities. Which isn't that bad, considering. (Side note: most of the places I looked at have children's playground sets, POOLS, some have saunas, and apparently almost all Colorado apartments have fireplaces. Neat. Of course almost all of them have the tiniest bathtubs you've ever seen, which isn't cool, but whatever...)
So yeah, back to the money issue. Car insurance would be cheaper there, and there's public transportation in lieu of gas. (Although of course inflation, inflation, we haven't seen the end of it.) All in all, it would be tight for a while but we could definitely swing it, especially if I'm allowed to really be frugal. I can be, but DH seems to resent the idea. Like say, on cutting down on meat, or coffee, or even turning the lights off after himself... I threw out the idea of cutting down to one car to save on gas and insurance, and of course that was a no-go too. Blah. And then there's the prospect of actually moving; just renting the smallest and cheapest Uhaul vehicle would be more than two grand. All in all I can think of better ways of spending two thousand dollars than on a truck. Never mind the gas it would take to go out there with an SUV and a truck towing a car, but let's not even talk about that.
But yeah. Colorado Springs seems to be a nice place, even if it is growing at a fast rate. Yesterday on the mothering forums there were four of us who are moving there within the next few months. So I guess it really is growing fast. From the Internet it sounds like a good place. From the sattelite maps I've seen of it, and the Cops show they did on it, I'm not sure I'm really getting the proper idea about it. Perhaps it's a bit more Buffalo-ish than I imagine. The mountain area (Manitou Springs) is probably more like what I'm imagining, but we'd probably be moving straight to the central area. Either way, I'm not too concerned. I'm sure there's good and bad, and if we did move there, it would be a fun thing to explore. I really am looking forward to April when we see what it's like.
I guess my little decluttering feng shui experiment worked a little. I think it helped free us and let us move... At leas I'm going to take credit for it regardless. =P
Genius! My brilliant idea is to never mind with trying to figure out Ebay myself. (Well, not like it's especially difficult to figure it out, but I don't really feel like running down to the post office with two babes in tow every other day.) I'm going to see what the Ebay store in Naugatuck is like, and if it checks out, I'll make a monthly trip down there with a box or two. I also really should get on down to the Goodwill store and donate all those bags and boxes of stuff. There's no point in packing everything up if the junk is still going to sit in a corner, except in an ugly garbage bag or cardboard box. Energy is not going to flow more freely if that's the case. Maybe tomorrow I'll get on it.
- Music:Fatboy Slim - Bird of Prey
Cold and raw the north wind doth blow
Bleak in the morning early,
All the hills are covered with snow,
And winter's now come fairly.
Maybe not OFFICIALLY but we're getting pretty durn close. The weather is cooler, the streets are quieter, and there's a general autumn energy in the air. Yup, I'm calling it officially fall. I've gone on a decorating jag and bought some pumpkins, wreaths, kitchen stuff, blankets, curtains, pillows... not to mention slipcovers and entertainment centers. Sheesh. Talk about freeloading here, huh? Now "all" we need is a new camera and oh, yeah, a car. And maybe a high chair. Bah.
I'm thinking of how to decorate the storage room for B2. I'm not planning on separating the two of them, more like making one room a playroom and the other a nursery. I originally planned on keeping B1 in our room even when B2 gets here - he already sleeps in the Pack n Play - but I might transition him out to the crib. There's still time to figure that out though. I'd rather have him in the room but if B2 cries a lot, B1 might not get enough sleep. Hmm.
Anyway, regardless of the sleeping arrangements, I want to have the storage room cleared out completely by early December. Then I want to paint (yellow) and get some curtains like the ones in the green room. We can set up the Christmas tree there (no room anywhere else for it) and then after we take it down, make it a playroom. Move the bookshelves in there from the nursery, and put in another crib in their place. Maybe another dresser too. And then generally get some toys in there little by little. The hardest part of that all is to figure out how to get rid of all the JUNK that's being stored there. It'd be one thing if it was MY junk but... it's not. It's MIL's stuff and she wants to keep it, but she wants to keep it up HERE. Hmph.
B1 is going to be six months in three days. Time flies. And B2 is, well, going to be 16 weeks on Monday. Think (s)he will be a Valentine's baby?