The Making of Dorothy Shoes

1 stacked shoesFor my latest costume endeavor, I set out to make Dorothy shoes after quickly discovering that most prefabricated glittery shoes were either gold or silver. I hit up a couple of thrift stores first. For some silly reason, I thought I needed to start off with a red pair of shoes, but in reality, they could have been any color since I’d planned to completely cover them in glitter.2 water stained shoeThanks to the six metal pins in my left ankle that foot is slightly bigger than the other; so I had to humanely stretch the left shoe with something other than my foot.  Of all the methods I’d read about, I liked the “plastic bag of water, placed in the shoe, then in the freezer” method the best. Not only does water expand, but it also molds itself into the proper shape. Apparently, my downfall was once I’d taken it out of the freezer, I’d let the water melt too much, staining the shoe. Not really a problem in the long run since glitter would cover it.
3 taped shoesPainter’s tape covered the bottom and heels of the shoes since those parts didn’t need to be glued and glittered.4 bling supplies I’d set everything out on the balcony before I began. Unlike every other video I’d watched, I sprayed on adhesive rather than painting on a thick glue. The plastic bowl captured most of the fallen glitter and the spoon helped re-sprinkle the shoes. 5 stuffed shoesAlmost too late, I remembered to stuff the shoes with newspaper. Although not a perfect solution, stuffed shoes helped minimize the amount of loose glitter entering the shoe.6 glittered shoes By the time I finished glueing, glittering and shellacking those shoes, my flip-flops were glued onto my feet! Another good reason NOT to use spray adhesive. At least the glitter stuck to the shoes with glossy acrylic finish to hold it in place.7 extra blingA bag of these little gems were on sale. I never understood what drives a sale at a crafts store, but I’m not complaining about saving money. I hot glued them on for some additional flair.
8 finished shoesThey looked so beautiful, I feared they’d hurt my feet. That’s the women’s fashion industry at play. Anything that’s sexy for women has to hurt or cause discomfort. Yet, the only challenge to wearing those Dorothy shoes was tracking loose glitter everywhere.
9 Dorothy shoe Once I had them on, I was free to follow the yellow brick road!

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A Tale of Two Lovers

He fell in love with a look

Not a woman

She brought to life

The fantasy he’d carried

Around in his head

Except she didn’t

Not in reality

 

He was in love with her

For a season

Until she broke

The illusion

Changed her look

Up until that point

He’d cheerfully disregarded

Anything in her behavior

Which didn’t match

His fantasy

But the visual matched

 

She had the audacity

To be dynamic

In tune with the environment

Not in the sense

Of being irrationally reactive

But analytically calculating

Like one who’s used to

Being on the right side of

Natural selection

 

Had she known

His love for her

Was so visually-based

She would have

Radically changed her looks

In the beginning

Spared them both

The slow metamorphosis

Of aligning themselves

To one another

All the while making sure

They’d both survive

The great what-shit-comes-next

 

Had he known how high

The quality of his life

Depended on her hidden strength

He wouldn’t have begun

The protracted conflict

To divide them

Actually, no

That’s not

What he tried to do

From his perspective

It was she who changed

Started all this confusion

 

People evolve

For different reasons

As much as he wanted her

To remain his fantasy

She was never

Just that

They’d met at one stage

In her metamorphosis

That appealed to him

Then she grew

Like she always did

 

And then they were heartbroken

He made the heroic effort

To save her from herself

She accused him of trying

To keep her in her place

Reaching into

His minute box

Of all things “woman”

Pulling out yet another

Misapplied label to define her

 

She made the heroic effort

To save him

Tried to stop him

From destroying them

He conservatively held on

To that which

No longer existed

She tried to bring

Him along her journey

He refused to move

 

At what point

Do you concede your investment

Of time, energy and fantasy

How much reality

Has to sink in

What is the sign

Do you wait for someone

To treat you worse than

You’d treat yourself

Whose stubbornness

Finally wins out

 

You wake up one morning

And remember you used

To be happy

Together

It is the greatest con

Of fairy tales

Living happily ever after

 

 

 

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Dog Saliva

When it comes to dating, I’m often accused of being too picky. Not true. At my age, I can just tell after one or two dates that a guy isn’t worth pursuing. I know I’m not going to radically change anyone even though every potential guy is a fixer upper. My usual deal breakers are men who are either too boring or too controlling. God help him if he’s both.

So, the latest Mr. Right was handsome enough, in shape enough, intelligent enough, charismatic enough, witty enough…OK enough already. What was the stopper with this guy?

Dog saliva.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a dog person too, but I agree with that one movie that says it’s OK to love your pet, just don’t LOVE your pet. Granted, I’ve only had pet peeves since my childhood dog died when I was a young adult. Even so, I never let Sandy lick me all over my face. I wasn’t even the borderline germaphobe I am today. I just can’t imagine having my face covered with dog saliva.

A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth, so they say. “They” being men because I’ve only heard guys reciting that myth. And yes, it is a myth. A dog’s mouth teems with bacteria just like a human’s mouth does, but humans have a different mix of bacteria, some of which cause cavities. So, some guys think because dogs don’t have the tooth-decay-causing bacteria, they can dismiss all the other bacterial strains found in dog saliva.

But I didn’t want to just give up on this guy, especially when there was an easy solution. Wet wipes! Whenever we get together, I’d just whip out a wet wipe, clean an area, by which I mean from one ear across his cheek, mouth, swipe down his neck, up the other cheek to the other ear in one clean sweep. And then I’d kiss him. I’m all about compromise. I know I’m not going to come between a Southern man and his dogs. And truth be told, I really liked his dogs. I just don’t need to ingest their dog saliva.

And wouldn’t you know it, just as soon as I started carrying a pack of wet wipes in my purse, I haven’t gone out with him again. (It feels like the same phenomenon of when I carry an umbrella and it doesn’t rain.) I think he concluded I wasn’t attracted to him at the end of our second date when I gave him a hug instead of a kiss, but I didn’t have any wet wipes at the time.

Now you have to understand, not only did he bring his dogs along, but I witnessed one of them enthusiastically licking the back of his bald head as he drove while telling me how, when he’s lying on the sofa, she’ll lick his entire face until she’s exhausted. He was so delighted by that story while I secretly thought, “Don’t you want a female of your own species to do that?” Then I thought, “Eww, the other times when I kissed you, your face had probably been covered with dried dog saliva.”

Look on the bright side, one of my girlfriends told me. He probably has a really good immune system. According to probiotic theory, everyone needs a good mix of bacteria in order to be healthy, especially for digestive needs. I feel I already get an eclectic mix of bacteria. After all, I go to bikram yoga four times a week where an orgiastic petri dish of bacteria helps keep my exposure to healthy bacteria in check. So, I honestly don’t think I’d get much probiotic benefit from an exposure to dog saliva.

The good things are, thanks to my hormones, I’ll keep dating and kissing men and thanks to my immune system, I’ll have defense against most bacteria. And now in addition to asking a guy about what he does for a living, whether he has kids and so on, I’m adding a question about pets just so there will be no kisses involving dog saliva.

 

 

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Kill Them with Kindness

When they yell and trample all over your feelings while explaining how sensitive they are, kill them with kindness.

When they invite you then uninvite you, kill them with kindness.

When they repeatedly ask you why you can’t be more like somebody else, kill them with kindness.

When they know they owe you money, but act like they don’t know you, kill them with kindness.

When they are so angry and can’t admit they’re wrong, kill them with kindness.

When they treat you like you’re stupid, kill them with kindness.

When they say your gender makes you less valuable, kill them with kindness.

When they treat you the way they want to be treated rather than the way you want to be treated, kill them with kindness.

Kill them with kindness with as much grace and forgiveness as you can because what you’re actually killing is the vengefulness, anger, and pettiness within yourself that will slowly turn you into one of them.

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And Then…

So the reason I’ve never done illegal drugs is I’d spent about 13 years on prescription phenobarbital since I’d had three mild seizures by the time I was 4. That was back in the 70s, when all patients were over-medicated. My parents emphasized to me how I could die if I mixed other drugs with my meds.

And then, I made a plan to celebrate my 100th birthday, buying a one-way ticket to Amsterdam or somewhere exotic-sounding to smoke opium in a small, outdoor café on a sunny day and sip green tea.

For now, I’ll just stick to alcohol. But I don’t use it as a drug to help me sleep or to ease my stress. I use daily moderate to strenuous exercise for that. Plus, there are serious consequences associated with alcohol if consumed excessively. My drunk uncles taught me that one.

Christmas Day 1992 was the first time I’d ever been drunk. I was fresh out of college and a Peace Corps Volunteer and homesick and that changed my world…and my hair…and my need to voraciously write everything down.

And then, I discovered food could be used as a drug. Shoveling it down for the temporary feeling of fullness euphoria, which had nothing to do with actual hunger.

And then I returned to the States, bigger than I’d ever been at 158 lbs—yes, I still remember that number—which wasn’t all that big, but for people who had known me before, I looked “stout” as one cousin gently informed me.

And then someone asked me if I was pregnant.

And then, I learned that people had the preconceived notion of life in an African country being one famine and war after another. Why, they marveled at how I could gain weight in “Africa” the first place.

And then, I learned how to swim. Enrolled in a couple of classes at the Y, started swimming four miles a week and stopped engorging myself. I noticed how leisurely one of my sisters, who I lived with at the time, chewed and savored her food.

And then, after having three jobs in six months, I applied for another job. This time to teach ESL in Seoul, South Korea. Another country, another adventure, another learning curve.

I’d read about the xenophobia of Korean culture, but had to laugh out loud when two white guys told my Black roommate and I about how racist Koreans were. My roommate and I bonded in that ironic moment. Imagine, two white guys telling two Black women from the South about racism. I’m sure they meant well. Bless their hearts.

And then in the process of adjusting to yet another new culture, I recreated myself once again. I went from avid swimmer to dedicated hapkido student and beginning rock climber. Even fell madly in love with a Cuban American, who of course was a Gemini, and apparently a drug dealer. Didn’t see that last bit coming.

And then again, I had this biased idea of drug dealers being urban kids who’d dropped out of school and were hanging out on street corners in poor neighborhoods. Not some charismatic, college-educated, ESL tutor who even corrected my grammar, loved to salsa, enjoyed theatre and recited poetry.

And then, the relationship declined from there. I was not exactly sure how stiff the penalty was for possession of illegal drugs in South Korea, but let’s face it, with my hairstyle, people already expected me to do illegal drugs.

And then, I remembered some of Mom’s advice, even half way around the world: you don’t have to be with man even though you love him.

Of course, she’d never said that directly to me, just in general, as a conclusion to a story about someone else’s doomed love life, but I was paying attention. If nothing else, Mom’s a riveting storyteller.

And then, I moved to Denver, CO to officially become a teacher after three years of not being licensed. The Mile-High City with its thin air had me sleeping about ten hours a night just to stockpile enough oxygen for the next day.

And then, I stopped training martial arts and picked up swimming again and added hiking since fourteeners surrounded me. I also took bellydancing and West African dance classes.

And then I started taking guitar lessons for some crazy reason I can’t remember why. All I remember is how tone death I was, never hearing that my guitar was out of tune, but the best moment for me was the first two weeks when I could feel my brain being rewired since my non-dominant left hand was being trained to do something technical. Up until that point, the only technical thing my left hand could do was type.

And then we all prepared ourselves for the technological wrath of the millennium bug. I even spent the night at a friend’s house just so I wouldn’t be by myself at midnight, January 1st, 2000. The only glitch we discovered was the battery-operated clock had stopped working.

And then the real calamity came later that same year when Al Gore lost the presidential election even though he had more votes. Chalk that up to political math. I scrambled to get an overseas teaching job.

And then I moved to Egypt, where I felt my personality shrink although I never veiled. The only country, so far, where I’ve ever been groped. Promised myself to never live in another country where the local men couldn’t freely fornicate with their own women since that made me too much of a target. Yet, I enjoyed teaching math, traveling around to see the pyramids and temples, and my usual joy, eating the local food.

And then I moved to Mexico, which was the perfect cure! Compared to the attention I’d received in Egypt, I actually felt normal, walking around Monterrey since Mexican men openly frolicked with Mexican women. Ah, what a relief! The person I became, outside of being a math and science teacher, was a drummer and a capoeirista—not that I excelled at either one of those things, but the stress relief was fantastic!

And then I moved to Honduras. That was truly a country where my mother-infused paranoia worked for me as a survival skill. I upped the ante on my paranoia: tinting the windows of my car, fast walking from my car to buildings and vice versa, rinsing produce in bleach water.

Let me explain that last one. Back in late 2003 in the US, bags of prewashed spinach were implicated in an E. coli outbreak. A few days later, bags of prewashed spinach inundated Honduran grocery stores.

And then Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States in 2008, effectively ending my 8-year self-imposed exile.

And then I moved to the center of the creative universe in 2009 and have been living happily ever after in Austin, TX.

 

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Night Hike @ Lady Bird Lake

1 Stevie Ray Vaughn statueWe met at the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue along Lady Bird Lake to take a night hike around 8:30. This was late enough for the heat to subside, but there was still sunlight. 2 batsAs we walked eastward along the trail, I heard the sound of a crowd of people, smelled a familiar stench then came upon the famous South Congress bridge where somewhere upwards of 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats were heading out for their nightly feeding.3 bats Of course my camera phone wasn’t fast enough to capture the bats. We dwelled at this spot for about 15 minutes before continuing on.4 nightlineHere was another beautiful sight: Austin at night behind Lady Bird Lake. A view so gorgeous even my camera phone captured a lot of it.
5 star & planet app Once again, showing the limitations of aforementioned camera phone, I snapped a picture of a guy pointing his phone to the heavens to identify stars and planets, thanks to an app.

6 Joe's Crab ShackFrom this view, Joe’s Crab Shack actually looks inviting–not some place that’ll give you five different fried things on a plate with no vegetables!

We concluded our hike around 10:30. Three of us went to Whataburger, which turned out to be Whatabadidea! The service was exceptionally slow for a FAST food joint and the average customer at that time of night was 20-something and inebriated. I swore digesting that poor-quality food made me feverish around 3 AM.  Some older yogi friends assured me it was a hot flash.  (Yeah, a hot flash triggered by barely edible poison! But at my age, hot flashes are on the not-so-distant horizon.)

Nonetheless, that little excursion satisfied both my needs for a hike for a while and for fast food for the rest of my life!

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Free Positivity

If someone ever gave out free samples of positivity, I’d surely try it since “free” is my price. Not only that, but I want more positivity in my life. More doors of opportunity to be opened, more creative flow, restfulness, energy and laugh-out-loud moments.

When I was younger, I thought once I figured life out, I’d be perpetually happy. I’d know exactly how to avoid pitfalls by learning from my mistakes. Only challenge is, I’m still making my mistakes.

It’s similar to the time I had the brilliant idea to make a list of the things I needed to get done before I sat down to read. My leisure reading time would start after I’d cross out everything that needed to be done for the day. The more I wrote down, the more there was to do. As a matter of fact, I began to have a list of lists. I started grouping certain activities to cut down on driving around so much on any one particular day.

After a few weeks, I concluded the only way to guarantee at least an hour’s reading time nearly every day was to schedule it since the list was virtually endless. I’d wind down for bed at a certain time, regardless of how far I’d made it on the list, and read for an hour.

Scheduling happiness is a far more challenging task. It involves more than avoiding pitfalls, boring people, junk food, traffic jams, high bills, car repairs, rising rent, illness, lack of money, insomnia, heartbreak and stress. A daily dose of happiness cannot be swallowed like a multivitamin, taken like a medicinal shot of tequila nor added to a morning smoothie to start the day.

Happiness, as I best understand it, is the result of an uncompromised immune system of positivity. Having an uncompromised immune system of positivity doesn’t mean that opportunistic assholes and bullshit don’t cross your path. It means despite the fact that they have, you’re STILL a happy person. A positive immune response allows you to recover from exposure to negativity.

A positive response may occur automatically and naturally for some people, but not if that person is me. I’ve had plenty of negative exposure that flared my temper, where, much after the fact, I thought of many different responses that could have diffused the situation had my mind not been flooded with negative thoughts.

The instant gratification of acting out, usually in the form of very sharp words, have set me back in the long run. At one point, I had a boss who actually strategized to tick me off. He’d counted on my temper worsening the situation during his last attempt. Unfortunately for him, I’d read a wonderful book called Working with You Is Killing Me. Armed with something more productive to do, I reacted empowered to the negative situation in a positive manner. I handled the situation so well that HIS boss complimented my reaction. A few minutes later, she realized that he had lied to her about my performance.

I’ve not faced such a situation again, but I can never vanquish all negatives once and for all. Blissfulness comes and goes. When it’s gone, all I can do about it is breathe and flow. Sit in stunned silence until the initial shock propagates through my nervous system. I breathe and I think. If I’m lucky, I haven’t had my daily exercise yet. Exercising is one of the healthiest ways I boost my positivity along with my breathing. I visualize the extra blood pumping through my vessels driving out the stress.

Whereas others need caffeine to wake up, pills to sleep and whatever else in between to dull the pain, I rely on the breath. Sometimes, it needs to slow down. Other times it needs to speed up. On rare occasions, like when I’m swimming, I need to rhythmically hold it.

Full disclosure: I practice yoga four times a week. Out of all forms of exercise I’ve ever tried from various styles of dancing, martial arts, lifting weights and swimming, the profound, directed breaths I take in yoga are the most useful to combating negativity. They are the free positivity samples.

Next time someone or something stresses you out, don’t hold your breath or huff and puff in anger or count to ten. Breathe. Give your brain the oxygen it needs to think of a positive response.

 

 

 

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Life of Magic

0 me standing

There is no abracadabra

Hocus pocus

Open sesame

No unsaying things said

Nor undoing things done

 

Kissing him good-bye

As if it were hello

But it’s really good-bye

It’s really

He’ll never know

Since he’ll be long gone

Before the truth escapes

From her sensuous

Secretive mouth

 

He’ll never understand

She wasn’t batshit crazy

She was just infused

With HIS crazy sauce

 

Do all aspects of life

Boil down to

What Mom always said?

Her timeless wisdom

Withstanding technological innovation

 

Educated fools

Still as predictable

As the day they

Finally stood upright

Getting into as much trouble

As their opposable thumbs

Could grasp

 

Lackluster people

Wearing down nerves

With their dull words

Coma-inducing

Conversation

Dangerous conservative ideas

Slipping past lethally

While eyes glazed over

Mind on autopilot

What did you say?

My mind wandered off

In self-defense

Sorry

 

So

You found

THE SOLUTION

The silver bullet

To a complex problem

All that needs to happen

Is for everyone to act

And think narrowly

As you do?

 

Just say the word

Any word

Work roots

Cast a spell

It’s all fairy tales and lies

Smoke and mirrors

Optical illusions

It only becomes

THE TRUTH

If someone believes it

 

 

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100% Fundraiser 2016

1 my painting

For a third year in a row, I participated in the Carver Museum’s 100% Fundraiser. We local artists pick up art supplies from the museum, decorate the canvas however we please, then return them for a silent auction. Every time I see my submission, all I remember is how I had the flu while doing it.  I marvel it looks this good!2 me w painting For some reason, my painting, which I titled, “She Sees Her Target,” was given the lackluster title of “untitled.”3 me w paintingYet, the real point of this whole endeavor isn’t to placate my ego, but to raise money for the museum’s educational program.
4 me w paintingI’m happy to report that at least one person, my supervisor, bid on my painting; so at least my feverish efforts weren’t in vain.

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Creating Developing-Country Women’s Healthcare in Texas

Nearing college graduation, I knew two things: I didn’t want to enter graduate school nor did I want to get a “real” job; so I joined the Peace Corps as an education volunteer. That amazing experience started my teaching adventures in Tanzania, South Korea, Egypt, Mexico and Honduras. It also opened my eyes to the reality of other women’s lives.

Until I’d taught in developing countries, I’d taken my formal education, reproductive rights and means to make money all for granted. Yet, time and again, those were the three common challenges I saw host country women toil under. An obstruction or lack in any one of those areas was enough to drastically lessen  women’s autonomy, but usually those challenges existed bundled, especially for poor women.

Off and on, I spent eleven years teaching math, science and ESL outside the US prior to moving to Austin, TX in 2009. Although an American citizen from birth, I felt I’d emigrated from another planet. Austin persevered as a liberal island, surrounded by a sea of conservatism where the “separation of church and state” was not as clear as those words implied.

I marveled at how conservatives viewed big government and oversight regulation as plagues on the American way of life, except for in the case of women’s reproductive rights. In this instance, Texas state government bent over backwards, not only to shame and harass women for seeking abortions, but interfere with doctor-patient communication, demand unnecessary facility upgrades for places that provided abortions, and promote false information regarding abortions.

While Texan women’s health care centers were actively being defunded, regardless of the myriad of life-saving services they provided such as mammograms, so-called crisis pregnancy centers received increasingly more funding to continue their mission of dissuading women from seeking abortion care and disseminating medically inaccurate information.

Yet, women have agency, regardless of politics or religion. Freedom of expression guarantees we women have a right to voice not only our experience, but also the solutions we seek as we navigate through life’s challenges. We should not be regarded as perpetual dependents who need patriarchal policies, dictating morals nor blocking access to safe, legal, medical procedures.

The label “feminism” rolls in and out of favor over time. However, its ideology has had staying power. It’s generally accepted that girls should be educated, and women should have the right to vote, drive, and own property. In the US, these phenomena are no more acknowledged as “feminist” than fish acknowledge water. When one visits a country were these rights do not exist, then like a fish out of water, the gasping begins.

Unfortunately, one doesn’t need to go out of the US to discover developing-country quality women’s healthcare. Those conditions are being created in Texas, a state that has one of the largest economies nationally and some suggest would have the 12th largest GDP if it became a sovereign nation.

We must be vigilant and active to safeguard our reproductive rights as citizens of a prosperous, developed nation.

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