Friday, March 30, 2012

Mrs. Wanket Says I Told You So

Dear Students,

Remember when I said that if you worked hard in school to maintain that solid GPA, write excellent essays and read read read, that this time of senior year you would have your choice of colleges?

. . . . .that the colleges would be spread out like dinner time at a huge buffet, just hoping that you would pick them?

. . . . . that the colleges would throw academic scholarships at your feet like rose petals because they would know your worth to their programs?

. . . . . . that an academic life is one of honor, peace, good friendship and opportunity?

. . . . . . . .that college absolutely was not only a possibility for you, but a necessary outcome of all of your hard work, despite everything you went through and your parents went through and your family went through for generations and what you and I went through when we hit a rough patch in the classroom?!?

Well, ha ha I told you so.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Own Private Apocalypse

If you do not care about The Walking Dead or zombies or the end of the world, stop reading right now. I get enthusiastic about things (television shows) and don't let them go. I know this about myself. No need for an intervention. You can walk away at any time.

If you do care: I've spent some time (sleepless nights) considering what I would do were I holed up in a farmhouse (or my house) with the impending threat of person-eating persons coming over en masse for a visit.

What I would do:

Build a moat.

For the love of God, has no one read the story Leiningen Versus the Ants? First you dig a moat. Then you fill it with gasoline. Then you dig a second moat and fill it with gasoline. Keep plenty of matches handy. This should not be something I even have to say. It should be assumed. Zombie apocalypses and double moats filled with gasoline go hand in hand.

Procure flame throwers and grenades.

Has no one seen the 1984 masterpiece Night of the Comet? In the event of an apocalypse, the whole world will be a giant free mall. Anything you want is up for grabs. Collect flame throwers and grenades. This is your new hobby.

Commandeer a helicopter.

Wouldn't it be so useful to fly above the landscape and see exactly where the zombies are hanging out? In The Walking Dead, there are helicopters just sitting around with the keys still in the ignition. Take one of those babies up for a spin. Maybe take a few and line them up right by the door. That way when the walkers lurch out of the woods, you're not fleeing on foot or in a wee hatchback with slippy tires. I mean come on.

Build a tunnel.

Maybe there would not be time to build the moats and the underground tunnel (the moats take precedence obviously), but at least try. Have it as a side project. Something to do when you can't sleep at night. Because you really shouldn't be sleeping at night.

Army tanks and Hummers

If there are Army tanks and Hummers standing around with the keys in the ignition, take them for yourself. Park them by the door alongside the choppers. It isn't stealing if the original drivers are now zombies. It isn't stealing if the government infected you with a zombie germ without your consent. (The least they could have done was put it in a bond measure.)

Stockpile food

. . . .and water and medicines and blankets and clothes and books and board games. You don't know how long you are going to be hunkered down for. Plan ahead. I don't mean five minutes ahead.

What I would not do:

Talk about my feelings and cry. Let my kids play in the woods by themselves for hours. Neglect to load extra cans of gas into the back of my truck. Get pregnant. Make my kids do homework. Hurt my chickens' little legs.

It's all about planning ahead. I plan to survive.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Fashion Asperger's

That photo is of me at seventeen dressed like a goth gypsy detective at a wedding rehearsal dinner for my boyfriend's brother. See how everyone else is dressed. Then see how I'm dressed.

I've suffered from Fashion Asperger's for as long as I can remember.

I wore the same two pair of pants all through first grade. My talented (and very stylish) mother sewed me lovely things with lace and Holly Hobbie on them. I loved my Holly Hobbie doll but I refused to wear her or her clothes. I would only wear pants boys would wear.

In junior high, I moved on to clothes that girls would wear if they were wearing boys’ clothes. In sixth grade, I begged my mother to buy me a pair of tan Dickies trousers so I could look like the gorgeous tough girls at my school. She wouldn’t take me to the men’s workwear section to buy my clothes but she compromised on a pair of baggy tan pants. They weren’t the same but I loved them. In my mind when I wore those pants I was an arched eyebrow, black-haired, big-hooped earring girl who could fight you. In the mirror, I was the same Irish white, baby-faced, flat-haired girl as always. I wasn’t fighting anybody. At least not on purpose.

In high school I loved the Mod girls and boys who had short spiked hair and drew crosses with black eyeliner outside of their eyes. They went to clubs in Berkeley and danced like David Gahan of Depeche Mode. They brooded around and looked foxy and were having all the fun with their clove cigarettes and black boots. So I cut my hair short and wore mismatched cross earrings I made myself out of super glue and the tabs from soda cans. The problem there was that my dad wouldn’t let me wear black because he thought it would mean I was depressed. So there are lots of photos of me in the eighties wearing asymmetrical hair and bad jewelry looking incongruent and frustrated in various pink dresses.

By the time I actually got to a Depeche Mode concert in Berkeley, I was dressed as if for a prayer meeting in a pink flowing skirt and a white eyelet blouse. At least I wasn’t depressed.

My fashion icon in college was Ione Skye. Not Ione Skye as Diane Court in Say Anything who wore feminine pink skirts and white blouses and an orchid behind her ear. No, I loved Ione Skye as the gnarly angry girl she played in The River’s Edge. I loved her red buffalo plaid shirts, long messy hair and jeans that were made for a boy.

Therein lies the disconnect that is my Fashion Asperger’s. I say Asperger’s instead of Autism because I’m not entirely out of step with my surroundings. I’ve never had to be pulled aside at work, for example, and told to dress more appropriately for the job. Yet throughout my entire life I have often failed to comprehend the finer fashion cues and have ended up looking. . . . silly.

I have extremely stylish friends. They tolerate my missed connections, but just barely. When going out to dinner with my friend Laura who is so stylish she has her own fashion blog, I pulled on the man’s blue flannel shirt that I had bought from the thrift store just for that occasion.

“No,” she said. “Not another flannel shirt.”

So I changed into something marginally better from my bag. My Army-like tote bag. She eyed it sadly.

My friend
Vanessa is an author who last year appeared in the pages of Glamour magazine. She tools around the globe on book tours and speaking engagements in feminine shift dresses and outstanding high heeled shoes. In an unguarded moment she once confessed to me, “I don’t know why you dress that way.”

I don’t know why I dress this way either. Maybe it’s because of my sensitive skin. That could be why I prefer clothes pre-worn for a few years by somebody else. Right now I’m wearing thrift store jeans four sizes too big, a t-shirt I got at a yard sale and a sweatshirt handed down from my teenage daughter. Everything is very soft and non-irritating.

I only like wearing dresses if I’m also wearing pants. It bugs me to wear something that would hinder me in the event of a catastrophe. Every time I’ve been in a catastrophe I’ve been wearing a skirt or dress and no pants and I was cold and my knees got skinned. So maybe I can blame it on post traumatic stress.

My favorite outfit right now is a mid-calf black dress and black pants with a long black scarf. All in one size too big. I feel flowy but also ready in case of emergency. I look like someone who has to dress this way for her religion.

It's in the gap between thought and reality that I get lost. I want to change my fashion ways but I fear I'm a hard case. I mistakenly wore all white to school a couple of weeks ago. That morning when getting dressed I thought I looked like a breezy lady on safari. Catching myself in a reflection later I realized I looked much more like fat Elvis attending a Nigerian funeral. One student remarked that even my feet were white. Everyone stood up to see and nodded. Yes. Through my sandals, even my feet were white.

"Don't clown Mrs. Wanket," one of my sophomores said. Defending me. So we forgot about my outfit and got down to the business of learning.

I would love to end it there with the realization that it's the business of life that matters, not how you dress while you're at it, but I don't believe that. I believe that fashion is art and self-expression and a source of joy. It is very important.

I subscribe to Vogue. I admire the beautiful clothes on those wispy people within the pages and feel grateful to them for being stylish so that I don’t have to be. They are filling the bill so beautifully.

There is a dress with pants combo on page 283 of the April Vogue that I love. The girl wearing it thinks she’s a bohemian faerie princess in a commune on the prairie.

That's exactly what she looks like too.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Go To Yoga

I used to say I couldn’t do yoga. I used to say I hated yoga. Yoga made me scream.

Then last winter break I broke. Every morning I woke up feeling worse. Maybe I just needed rest. I spent three days in bed. My back and bones felt brittle and frail. It hurt to sit, stand, lie down and run. Walking felt okay. I walked for hours. My feelings were hurt too. Life was too much. I felt like walking for four hours a day and then sleeping the rest of it away.

Go to yoga, said my friends, two of whom are beautiful yoga teachers and who knew what they were talking about as they watched me hobble around in misery.

Finally in January I visited my friend Laura who whispered, go to yoga. So I did.

Here’s the thing with yoga and me: I thought I was a hyperactive person and that holding poses for more than a second would make me die. I thought I was an old person and that I wouldn’t be able to do anything. I thought yoga would not be enough. I thought I needed long runs to burn off all of my extra body fat. I thought I thought I thought.

During my first yoga class in January, the best I could do was child’s pose and sitting up, and that barely. But I came home feeling better.

Yoga effect, my eight year old daughter said. She noticed right away.

I’m three months into a practice. It’s surprising what I can and cannot do. Half moon was impossible today, but next thing you know my hands were folded behind my back like it was nothing. My Boat Pose is whack but Wheel is okay.

My body knows things I don’t know yet. Every practice is a new opportunity to learn what rests deep.

It’s changed everything.

Go to yoga.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Upcoming Posts

My brain is full of stories, novels, articles and blog posts. These ideas are trains bunched up at a station, engines rumbling and ready to go. Where is the stationmaster? Out making a living. What a muggle.

Spring break is coming up soon. Glorious stretches of days with no plans. I'm not making any plans either. I have to spend time writing or else steam will start blowing out of my ears.

Blog posts I can't wait to let out:

1. My Fashion Asperger's

All about how I always misunderstand fashion cues and the right thing to wear and how to wear it. This from the girl who once wore a pink flowered skirt and white eyelet peasant blouse to a Depeche Mode concert.

2. Letters

Hand-written notes and letters have been important to me. A rundown of a few I've kept. Also a mention of a friendship forged in the past twenty-four years almost entirely over the post.

3. Yoga

I do Yoga now. And I'm all smug about it like I invented it.

4. Bad Writer

A few times my writing has landed me in trouble.

5. My Own Private Zombie Apocalypse

You don't have to read this one. Seriously. It will be all about what I would do better than the Walking Dead characters are doing. Hint: I definitely WOULD NOT stand around talking about my feelings.